Last week Ben and I took a last minute trip to Singapore to visit his friend from England, Dom and his Singaporean girlfriend, Massy. I have compiled so much information already on this blog, but now I feel like sharing my opinion on this new and modern country; Singapore is only 49 years old!
I have compiled lots of information in 5 different posts on Singapore, but other than my general opinions this is a nice round-up of Singapore. If you’re planning a trip, start here!
photo credit: flickr
Intro to Singapore
You’d think Goa to Singapore would be an easy flight, but it was not. I highly suggest not using Air India even though we did get upgraded to business class for the last leg of the flight. We flew to Bombay, as the ticket read Bombay to Singapore… failing to mention the stop where we wouldn’t get off the plane in Chennai. It took us 9 hours just to get out of India, then 4 to Singapore! Not to mention the monitors in the brand spankin’ new Mumabi International airport were not working so we almost missed our flight.
So, starting the trip exhausted after downing some coffee, for some odd reason I was determined to see “Little India” in Singapore, as if living in India isn’t enough for me.
little India was much cleaner than real India
Although a fairly small country, there are many different neighborhoods to check out in Singapore. Singaporeans are mostly Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian. There is such a variety of culture throughout the city from food to religious buildings and language. The USD is worth a little less than the SD and the pound is worth more- just check into rates before you go.
“Clinically Clean” Singapore
As for the reputation of being “clinically clean”, I think it’s a huge exaggeration. The city is clean, but there is nothing clinical about it. Coming from India, I expected to be shocked by the cleanliness, but truly found it normal. There are laws “no spitting” “no chewing gum” “no stinky durian fruit on transportation” but they make perfect sense. Like India, some countries have a problem with spitters; it’s gross, and in Bombay and Delhi you see signs for spitting fines, it was nice not to see gum all over the streets (you can’t buy it here), and that fruit smells atrocious. These make total sense. People aren’t littering because of fines and they aren’t doing drugs because you can’t get them. I found it refreshing.
It is almost impossible to get a car in Singapore because prices are so high. For a car that costs 30,000 in the states, you’ll pay over 200,000 in Singapore. No car can be on the road that is over 10 years old. I never saw a mediocre car. Everyone is driving Mercedes, Audi, Range Rovers… and all those fancy sport cars I can’t even name! Because only the super rich can drive, all the cars are insanely cool, which adds to the “clean” reputation.
Weirdly enough, my one of my favorite things about Singapore are the town houses along the streets. They were painted with pastel beach colors and had adorable shutters. I really liked this hotel above and then was informed that’s one you go to for an hour at a time… if you catch my drift. Although searching for someone to pay, or someone to pay you for sex is illegal, the actual act of exchanging money for sex is seem as a legal business deal between to consenting adults. In conclusion: you can have sex for money, but you cannot chew gum.
Transportation in Singapore
We traveled by cab because we were being a bit lazy and the metro doesn’t stop by Dom’s house. Cabs anywhere in the city will cost you about 10-20 dollars. There are places to queue up all over the city and sometimes lines are very long, like near Vivo City. Coming from India, seeing people stand in line properly about blew my mind. I’m becoming more Indian everyday, like eating with my hands and my new head wobble, so the Indian inside me wanted to push my way to the front of the line like a bossy Indian would.
There are local buses, but the cheapest way to travel is the metro (MRT).
If you take the NE Line (purple) you’ll stop at China Town to Clark Quay (great walkway with food and bars) and Little India. The NS (red) line takes you to Orchard Road and Marina Bay. The EW (green) will get you to Bugis and lastly, the airport.
A Guide to Neighborhoods of Singapore
Popular neighborhoods that I visited include: Little India, Bugis, China Town, Arab Street, Clark Quay, Orchard Road, Robertson Quay, Financial District, Marina Bay, and Sentosa Island. You can read all about them on my Singapore Neighborhoods Guide: what to eat, where to shop, and what bars will make you feel fabulous, like one of Leonardo Dicaprio’s model girlfriends.
Food/Shopping/Nightlife in Singapore
There are many Hawkers, “coffee shops” and food courts around Singapore, the most famous being Lau Pa Sat or Newton’s. Food is so important in Singapore, as it’s been said all they do is eat and shop, it of course needs a post full of foodie photos. Because I stayed with a local fashion designer I got the best insight into where to shop in Singapore, including off the beaten path boutiques. Sadly, Arab Street had closed theirs by the time I arrived. The nightlife if massively expensive so for that reason I have two guides: one for backpackers looking to get drunk cheap, and one for high heel lovers who want to experience Singapore the extravagant way which in Singapore, I think really is the best way! I recommend not coming unless you have some money to burn, or else you’ll leave feeling like you killed your budget in just a couple days.
Lastly, when you leave the Changi airport you’ll get to see why it’s one of the best in the world. You can get pre-paid taxis here but don’t worry about being scammed. All the drivers use a meter without being asked and most have GPS (as well as security cameras). One driver spent 40 minutes telling us how Bruce Lee changed his life. The airport has places to charge and lock up your phone, big screen TVs playing soccer, comfortable seating, free internet, photo booths, a gym, mall, and swimming pool.
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