Singapore City?

Trip Start Sep 01, 2004
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31
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Trip End Apr 25, 2005


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Flag of Singapore  ,
Sunday, January 30, 2005

Greetings,

Singapore is one of those city/countries that forces you to take a closer look at their history. JoAnn loves to do that anyway, so I constantly get history lessons. Like most things we learn about new countries, it only takes a new country or two for me to forget or get confused about the facts regarding past countries, cultures, currency, or time zones. It's a good thing JoAnn's mind is like a steel trap, otherwise I wouldn't remember a tenth of what we have seen. Thats the beauty of this travelpod. It forces me to write things down before it totally escapes.

I need to clear up some of my preconceived notions. Before we left on this journey I characterized us as fairly seasoned tourists. Typical tourists, but not stuck in the tour group category. There was still enough apprehension to make me prepare for as many negative incidents that I could think of. People would say, "don't tell anyone that you are Americans" or "sew a Canadian flag on your pack". I didn't want to do either of those, but I thought it prudent not to take any clothing that had American advertising plastered all over them. I am such a nerd. In every country we have visited it seems that everyone is wearing T-shirts, jackets, shorts, pants, hats, and day packs that have American sports team names, logos, movie star's names, and company names. We seem to stand out by not having anything on our clothes. Remember, most of these folks don't know any English, but it almost seems as if there is nothing out there in the world to purchase that isn't some advertisement.

I'm not sure if it's the media, our government, or our culture, but there seems to be more apprehension about Americans traveling outside of the United States than seems to be warranted. Of course no matter where you go you must be aware of your surroundings, but we have not had any negative occurrences. On the contrary, most people are more than happy to help us or explain things to us. Especially when we have the map out and have our puzzled looks on.

The public transport here is good. Not as good as Hong Kong, but we get around fine. The rapid transit looks like first generation Hong Kong rolling stock. Very plain and simple.

We are staying in the Chinatown section of Singapore and it's very active, especially at night. The downside is that the rooms in the hotels are very small. Our room is about 10' by 10", including the bathroom. Only one of us can stand up at a time. It adds a whole new dimension to the idea of "downsizing". It's getting near Chinese New Years, so everything is decorated and everyone seems to be excited about the upcoming festivities. We don't have a clue about any of it, but it seems to rival the American Christmas spirit.

We have done all the tourist type stuff here and the biggest surprise was the zoo. The entire area is surrounded by a large lake and it gives you the feeling of being on an island. Most of the animals seem to be separated from the people by only a 24 inch wall or small moat, giving you the feeling that you are walking among the animals. Completely different than the cages and huge moats we are used to seeing in the United States.

The people here are very polite and seem well educated. There are very nice schools everywhere and all of the school aged kids have neat uniforms, pleasent manners, and are very well groomed. Almost a "Stepford Kid" atmosphere. Not a bad thing, just something we aren't used to. The Government is very engaged in the social engineering of it's people here. Years ago they almost stopped the birthrate by Government order. They figured out that they needed to have more than a zero birthrate to survive, so they gave huge benefits and rewards to women that had graduated from college, that would get pregnant. Of course they also wanted non educated women to get sterilized. Things have mellowed since then, but the culture seems very obliging to the whims of the Government.

We enjoyed the stay here, I think, because it feels so "Western" and everyone speaks English. We were able to stock up on some of the regular items that we use and enjoy some food that I recognize.

We are off to Kuala Lumpur, in Malayasa, for a few days. The main event there is to see "Sting", but I expect there are other things that will get our attention. The weather and tsunami have created some issues for us in Indonesia, but we are trying to work around them. You all know how much we enjoy your e-mails. Thats a "code phrase" for "write us!"

We hope that the winter weather is not too bad, and that everything is going well for everyone.

Don and JoAnn
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