Impressions of a truly cosmopolitan city

Trip Start May 08, 2006
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Trip End May 06, 2007


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Flag of Singapore  ,
Monday, March 26, 2007

Ok so I told you I would give you another entry - here it is. Now that I've had some time to sort myself out, catch up on some sleep and feed myself to bursting, I thought I should give you some idea of what it's like being in Singapore. First impressions? Forefront in my mind was that this is the first time in my life that I have ever been an ethnic minority (with the possible exception of Auckland). You'll be walking around amongst Singaporeans, Malaysians, Thais and Indians, and not see another white person for half an hour a lot of the time. It's a pretty weird feeling, and just as Volkswagen Camper Van drivers nod at each other when passing, so you feel like nodding to the next white person that walks by. You don't of course because that's just stupid but, there it is.

Second thing I noticed is how clean the place is. I was walking along outside a mall today and failed to spot a single disc of used chewing gum stuck to the ground. If I had been walking outside a Tesco back home you'd have to count the layers rather than the separate spots. People walk around with huge sacks, lifting the lids off bins and sifting through so they can pull out all the aluminium cans for recycling. There are no fag butts on the pavements, no half eaten kebabs left on garden walls, no sleeping bags left in alcoves or on park benches, no empty cans of Special Brew next to said non-existent sleeping bags. The place is as close to sterile as a city could ever get, that's if you don't count the bright green rivers and canals of course... but we won't talk about that.

Third thing I noticed is that it's really shit. No honestly, I've been trying to think of something good to say about it, to stay as positive as possible but I just don't get it. If I wasn't writing this in Melaka (and hadn't seen that the rest of SE Asia was going to be substantially different), then you wouldn't know this because I would have carried on writing about how nice the Botanic Gardens are, about how incredibly different the districts are, and about how lovely the food is in the Rochor Centre at Kampung Glam. All of the above is true, but they are just forms of relief from the bigger picture - that Singapore is an overdeveloped, oversized, impersonal plethora of buildings, cars and far too many people. That said, the hostel I stayed in was very cosy and friendly, and situated in a lovely area of Kampung Glam. If you have to go there (i.e. your bird is bending your ear off about going shopping for handbags and shoes for 2 days straight) then you can't go wrong with Sleepy Sams. At least you can leave her to it and buy some cheap gadgets.
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