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krisek Singapore - A travel report by Krys
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Singapore,  Singapore - flag Singapore
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krisek's travel reports

Orderly and clean, but a little paranoid perhaps?

  11 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Singapore is extremely well organised, clean and colourful, civilised and a great place to do some great value shopping. But the price one has to pay is a little intimidation from the authorities, who prohibit many freedoms. Like the chewing gum.


Singapore travelogue picture
This city-size country did not particularly impress me. Well, let me rephrase that. It did not meet my expectations. What I found in Singapore was a big shopping mall. There was not really much more to it. Nevertheless there were specific elements of the city and its atmosphere that were remarkable.

Singapore is very possibly the most orderly city on this planet or even in the entire Milky Way Galaxy. Everything has its place and any activity leading for it not to be, is deemed illegal. It is the most punishing city for non-compliance with even the most insignificant laws! Singapore is paranoid for threatening people with all sorts of fines and penalties. When a driver parks a car in a pay-and-display parking lot, the first message on the ticket machine shouts in big bold letters what penalties for not paying for the parking are. This is awful.

There is a fine or penalty for absolutely everything in Singapore; for spitting on the street, for gum chewing, for being intoxicated in public areas, for walking on the grass, etc. apart from that, there are hefty fines for speeding or driving too slowly causing traffic jam. In fact, based on an incredibly strict traffic policy and the regulations on the number of cars in the country and vehicle licensing, there are no traffic jams in Singapore. When Ken Livingstone was introducing a congestion charge for driving in central London in 2003, people were speculating that it would never work. They obviously did not know that similar scheme had been in place in Singapore for years, regulating the magnitude of traffic in the city with an extreme success. Furthermore, the congestion charge in Singapore is not constant and it can be changing on a daily basis, depending on the current levels of the vehicle congestion.

Well, the country has its great qualities, too. It is safe, clean and the food is ... so delicious that it is not possible to describe in words. And if you are into shopping - I guess you would not complain.

Favourite spots:
Singapore travelogue picture
Humidity levels, however, were almost killing me. One could not take a walk during the day or night without sweating like some fur animal. It was like swimming in the air. Well, I actually did not mind that this much because I normally like the tropical climate, and the trick is to make sure one dresses adequately to weather.

As for favourite spots in the city... I am struggling to choose one. It would have to be the Boat Quay or the Merlion place by the Fullerton Road. I loved the Boat Quay instantly, but the statue of the Merlion had to grow on me. Originally, I thought it was hysterically funny. But I learnt to respect the creature. The fountain looks very impressive and the stream of water is very powerful. Also, the view towards the city skyscrapers and the Fullerton Hotel is rather spectacular from there. Plus of course towards the intriguing twin buildings of the Esplanade Library and the Esplande Mall.

What's really great:
Singapore travelogue picture
The crack down on spitting and littering, including delegalisation of chewing gum, made the city mega-clean. It turned it into a very pleasant and hygienic place. It makes people feel like it is in fact the 21st century, in which maintaining high level of hygiene in the streets of a large city is actually possible.

Singapore is also super-safe as a result of all those rules and prohibited activity, and the fact that people do comply with the laws. I'm not sure whether this is the effect of the threat of incredibly expensive fines and penalties, or possibly some other factors.

Exceptionally lush vegetation all over the city surprised me. That was actually very nice. The city is very green and the greenery is dense. The whole thing is like a massive park, or in fact a piece of a jungle, where humans, with a miracle, managed to build this modern city. I actually loved it because the trees gave a lot of shade and the punishing sun had difficulty in getting through the branches and leaves.

Sights:
Singapore travelogue picture
The Merlion is Singapore’s specific peculiarity. It is a half-lion-half-fish creature, which is now also a symbol of Singapore. The Merlion commemorates the ancient name and the legend taken from the 'Malay Annals' (literary and historical work) from the 15th century explaining how Singapore received its present name. In ancient times, Singapore was known as Temasek, which is Javanese for the sea. It was then, as it is today, a centre of trade. At the end of the 4th century, Temasek was destroyed by the Siamese, according to some historians, or by the Javanese, according to others. A number of The Merlion statues are scattered around the country. They are very special.

Visitors to Singapore are recommended that they visit a few sights: Little India, Chinatown and Santosa Island. Little India is a district where Hindu people live, who most likely arrived from India. The architecture is special and several examples of Hindu temples create particular atmosphere. For Santosa see below.

Accommodations:
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I stayed at the rather fantastic Singapore Marriott, which looks like a giant Chinese pagoda. I was in the country for business but managed to stay an extra day, and since one of the days in the middle of the week was a public holiday, I had some time to have a look around. The hotel was great. It was close to nice shopping malls full of fine restaurants. The Marriott was most definitely focused on business travels, and had everything a business person might have needed on a business trip. But if someone was on holiday in Singapore and could afford stay in this hotel, I would still recommend it. The personnel was polite, if a little forgetful, and dressed immaculately.

My friends often stayed in the Fullerton, and they always raved about it. It a little more plush than the Marriott and more expensive, too but it is much closer to the heart of the city and places to go out at night.

Nightlife:
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I found that the Boat Quay had a good selection of places to party and spend the night. There were clubs, pubs, cafes and restaurants arranged in small 'fishermen' houses overlooking the skyscrapers. A truly fantastic places to relax, have a drink, a meal, boogie a little, socialise and forget about the world. The street and the packed with the eateries with their tables on the pavement and the tall buildings looked impressive at night. The quality of food and service differed from place to place. The spot was very, very popular. It was very easy to get a taxi to/from there.

Incidentally, there are uncountable food courts around the city serving many different types of dishes from the wide range of world cuisines, mainly Asian. There is one trick with those, there are no napkins, serviettes or tissues available. So, if you set up yourself with a Japanese style udon soup then you are made!

Hangouts:
Singapore travelogue picture
Chinatown is similar to Little India, although it is slightly larger and there are a little bunches of streets and lanes to explore. I liked the area, but I was disappointed with the range and quality of restaurants! Someone raved about dim sum in this place, so I tried some and I hated it. It put me off dim sum forever.

There is a single street that links the Hindu and the Chinese cultures in Singapore. It is the Waterloo street. It runs from Little India towards the legendary Raffles Hotel. The hotel is famous for its standard, which has become a synonym for luxury. Singapore Airlines named one of their upper class cabins – Ruffles Class. Waterloo Street boasts several temples and shrines, both Chinese and Hindu, like the Sri-Krishnan temple for example. It is great to stroll along it and have a peek inside them and mingle with the worshipers.

Restaurants:
Singapore travelogue picture
Food in Singapore is not from this planet, it is so delicious I mean. The city is now a living legend because of the range and quality of foods served there. This tiny country has actually developed its own typical cuisine, which is a mixture of the cooking from China, India, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines gently blended with many European flavours.

I was so fortunate to eat at the greatest seafood restaurant in the known dimensions of this universe. It is called ‘No Signboard Seafood Restaurant’. It is located near the newly constructed expressway (possibly Ayer Rajah Expressway) close to Alexandra Road. They are serving amazing red (and white) grouper fish steamed to perfection according to a Hong-Kong recipe. I grew up at the seaside and have had stupid number of fish dishes, but that red grouper was heaven! It was so tender, that there are no words to describe it. The restaurant also specialises in the Singaporean seafood dishes, such as chilli and pepper crab and mussels.

Other recommendations:
Singapore travelogue picture
Santosa Island is Singapore’s largest single tourist attraction. It has been taken so seriously that the government invested in a over-touristy circular monorail train, which took people around this minute isle. The trip took some 45 minutes and, as one of my fellow travellers described it, it is rather hypnotic, barely staying awake for the duration of the ride. Since, the monorail has been dismantled.

The island itself has few attractions, the main of which are the beach and a giant monument of the Merlion. Furthermore, a cable car from the main Singapore Island to Santosa was constructed to take the masses of the shopping tourists over the busy city arteries, office buildings (even through them) and the terribly ugly harbour - all the way to this large garden. It is a nice escape from the bustle and hassle of the metropolis. Santosa has a nice garden with traditional buildings, which is worth the trip alone.

Published on Thursday October 30th, 2008


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Sat, Jun 26 2010 - 01:07 PM rating by shervin19

You are write complete and nice report, thanks Krys.

Thu, Nov 06 2008 - 12:49 PM rating by rangutan

Very very different to Gloria's report, written in a totally different style and from a different view. I find more than enough positive tips in both reports to place Singapore high on my travel list. With such a big airline hub, enthusiastic travellers can hardly avoid it anyway, useful information :-)

Sun, Nov 02 2008 - 04:49 PM rating by adampl

Thanks, Krzysztof. I enjoyed reading it. I spent in Singapore only several hours, mostly sleeping :) but I had very similar impression - very clean with almost oppressive law (messages with high penalties are omnipresent).
@Gloria - don't feel offended. We Europeans live in different culture. To some of us Singapore may look strange as it's very different to what you encounter in Europe. And if someone is after something else than Singapore has to offer, they are not likely to be enthusiastic about the country. It's not only about Singapore, it's about each and every place on the globe.
If Krzysztof described his impressions and feelings about the city - it's his right. Don't 'punish' him for that with two stars. It's a good report (for at least 4 stars). I believe reports aren't just another travel guide - they should be more personal.

Fri, Oct 31 2008 - 02:36 PM rating by tokyomike

Excellent read! I enjoyed every bit of it. And although I agree that the hyper-orderliness of the city is a bit off-putting at times, I thoroughly loved Singapore. I'm not a foodie, but as you said, the range of food there boggles the mind. Sentosa was cool for chilling, the Night Safari was a hoot, and I also enjoyed a Quay...the Clark Quay...is that the same place you're referring to as the Boat Quay? Anyway, it's all good in Singapore! Thanks for the great trip report!

Fri, Oct 31 2008 - 08:23 AM rating by gloriajames

hi
i have always enjoyed your reports thus far, i was rather disappointed with your review of the country i call home.
i must add that as u have pointed out that you were in singapore for a business trip, i guess you did not really and truly explore singapore and what singapore has to offer. your take on the laws of singapore is rather appalling too.
oh....from your report i take it that you only went to boat quay, and guess u did not pay a visit to clarke quay or robertson quay, or dempsey hill or rochester hill or vivocity.
further, sentosa underwent changes the past few years, and the monorail has been discontinued for ages! it is now like a resort island and boasts beautiful cafes and can be compared to ibiza.
and do you know why chewing gum is banned? i guess not...
perhaps you ought to look at your tubes and trains in uk.... and then understand why the Singapore Govt made a decision to ban chewing gums.
sorry if i sound defensive,
from a singaporean

Fri, Oct 31 2008 - 04:14 AM rating by robynallen

Great report. Enjoyed reading your take the food. Sounds delicious! Love your pictures too.

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