Short Singapore Plans

19 Dec
Singapore city (= country)

Singapore city (= country)

  • Any travel suggestions? Let me know – add them below in the comments!
  • Foreseen travel to Singapore during my Malaysia trip probably March/April

Singapore says my guidebook – is Asia for beginners. You have the authentic Asia style with Eastern values, traditions and ‘face’, but combined with western innovation and efficiency and English is spoken as the main working language. The country is different enough to get a culture shock, but it wouldn’t be shocking much: for people from the East there’s enough familiar Asian elements they can relate to, and for the people from the West, there’s enough Western influence to make you feel at home.

Many nick-names circulate for the city-state (it used to be a small island with different cities but they now grew into and all over each other…).

  • Garden city’ because of the manicured parks between the skyscrapers, or as some say, they managed to create a city inside a park.
  • Amusement park island’ because it looks so fake, small and entertainment is omnipresent. Like a real life surreal Disneyland.
  • air-conditioned island’ because the average temperature inside buildings is about 15degrees (I need to take a coat and shawl for Singapore!) whereas outside temperatures reach easily 30 and more (Singapore is only a few miles North of the equator)
  • nanny state’ because of the stringent rules and regulations: eg Chewing gum is prohibited, littering leads to heavy fines, strict censorship,…

Chinese Temple...

Chinese Temple...

Culturally, Singapore is a lot like Malaysia (see description of Malaysia), and at some stage Singapore was even part of the Malay Union. The main groups are the Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian (mixed) people – and one quarter of the population are the so called ‘ang moh’ (= red haired) which is the term used for the white expats. However, there are more Chinese than Malay, which is one of the reasons for staying separate from Malay dominated Malaysia.

Singapore, as Malaysia, is very proud of their ‘rojak’, the Malay salad which combines different fruit & vegetables to a tasty dish. The different ethnic groups are encouraged to keep their culture and traditions, but still live harmoniously together.

The different groups have their respective ‘typical’ areas in the city: China town, Little India and Arab street, each with their specific produce, food, fruit, scent and aromas. That will make for interesting voyages through different cultures within the same city.

Singapore flag...

Singapore flag...

Singapore only exists about 40 years as an independent country, but managed to develop from a third world country to the most developed modern industrialized state on the equator. (They say thanks to air-conditioning…) Part of the secret to success is also that the country (city-state) is small and easy to control and steer and its leaders have run  Singapore as a profitable business.

One of the challenges in Singapore however will be the language. I wrote above it was English (besides the different ethnic languages), but actually it is ‘Singlish’: a fast abrupt way of speaking English which apparently takes some time to get used to. Probably a bit like the African French in Togo or Congo.

Little India (not all skyscrapers)

Little India (not all skyscrapers)

Most of the expats in Singapore suffer every once so often from ‘island fever’, a kind of claustrophobia which can only be cured by a short or longer term sojourn away from the island. The ultra-modern efficient airport well stocked with low-cost airlines makes it easy to get there and away.

Some friends told me that a few days in Singapore would be enough. Others suggested to stay in Johor Bahru in Malaysia, and just go for days excursions to Singapore (as many commuters do as well).

Or do you have other ‘must-see’ or ‘must-do’ suggestions? Add them in the comments below!


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