29.01.2012 - 30.01.2012
We covered the length of the entire metropolis by bus in just 20 minutes. This tiny, efficiently run nation is the embodiment of civilisation, with every square inch occupied by modern apartment blocks, air conditioned shopping malls and manicured roads. There’s plenty to do in Singapore, if you can resist the neon allure of the luxury stores to explore.
We had heard of the open plan Singapore Zoo, and spent the entire first day visiting every enclosure. We were truly impressed; the Zoo is well worth a visit even if only on a short stopover.
Afterwards we explored the city by train and headed to Tokyo-like Orchard Road and the dazzling Marina Bay. This city stays abuzz well into the night and alas, we succumbed to the hypnotic pull of the shopping malls. This continued the next day, in between sudden heavy downpour and regular snacking in hawker food courts such as Kampung Glam and Makan Sutra.
It’s remarkable how clean and organised Singapore is, although public service announcements leave one feeling smothered at times. There are signs reminding citizens of civil behaviour, over signage of safety warnings in buildings and on transport, and excessive queues. We found citizens were polite yet lacking warmth, and noticed that fear of the law has been thoroughly instilled. It was comical to observe smokers huddled closely over a rubbish bin, taking utmost care to ensure that cigarette ash did not fall onto the ground.
We felt safe and comfortable in Singapore. In contrast to most of the places we’ve visited so far, getting around was easy and everything just seems to work! Seeing so many ex-pats, it felt more like Sydney than Asia - they even use similar plastic banknotes.
It was an enjoyable short break although we prefer a bit of chaos in the mix. This may be a utopian society to aspire to, but this civility makes it one of the less exciting stops on the backpacker trail.