Monday, March 7, 2011

Welcome to Singapore. Now No Spitting!

With the three weeks coming to an end, our last destination was Singapore.  This tiny country is located on an island on the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula.  It's just a little dot on the map but it's quite an accomplished place.  It's basically a modern mega city.  I've never seen any city like it in Asia.  First thing is that it's super clean.  Seriously, it's cleaner than Nicolas Cage's house in "Matchstick Men."  I think I counted three napkins on the ground, that was it for litter.  I believe the reason for this is because the people there are really disciplined.  One thing you hear about are all the laws in Singapore that can result in inflated fines.  Some of these laws are outrageous but I guess it works.  Here are some examples:

$500-$1000 Fine
Eating or drinking anything on the subway
Possession of chewing gum
Failure to flush the toilet after using a public facility
Using racial slurs
Spitting in public
Feeding birds
Urinating in an elevator
Possession of pornography
Using unsecured wireless internet
Smoking in public

Caning (Where your buttocks is spanked with a cane.)
Possession of fire crackers
Overstaying your visa length

Death by Hanging
Possession or trafficking of any illegal drugs

Singapore is not messing around.  They caned over 6,000 people in one year in 2007.  That's a lot of spanking going on, and I'm talking about the spanking that makes you bleed.  Anyway, as a tourist, as long as you think about what you're doing and use the trash cans then it should be no problem.  I may have cursed a few times in public but no action was taken. 

Crazy Boat Building
Another interesting thing I noticed was that Singapore's official language is English.  Having lived in Asia for a year and a half I just came accustomed to not understanding what anyone was talking about when I was in a restaurant or using public transportation.  It was somewhat weird to hear a Chinese child talk about his favorite animals to his Chinese mother while walking down the street.  Or have a taxi driver tell me jokes about the American president and the British Royal Family.  I think it must be because Singapore is so culturally diverse that they need a language to unify everyone.  Also, Singapore relies so heavily on international business that it is smart to choose English as the official language if one must be chosen.

Lastly, Singapore is expensive.  The majority of the hotels are four star and I felt like an impostor walking down some of the streets.  "How dare he wear flip-flops and cheap sunglasses near us!  Send him to four star prison!"  The cheapest can of beer I could find was around four dollars out of a seven eleven.  Eating anywhere near a shopping mall, forget about it.  We stuck to the outdoor food courts that Anthony Bourdain recommended.  It's where the most delicious and cheapest food is made in Singapore.  Singapore can be done by budget travelers, but just for a few days and with a little budget traveler know-how.

We stayed in Singapore for the three days of the Chinese Lunar New Year.  There was a big festival going on at the marina with carnival rides and fireworks.  Chinatown was at full capacity with people, lanterns, and the color red.  We spent the first day roaming these parts and waiting for the fireworks.  The next day Caroline and I went to Sentosa Island.  It's an island of strictly entertainment with a mandate for fun.  It has several amusement parks, theaters, gardens, beaches, live shows, and much more.  We hit up Universal Studios and had an awesome day.  The Jurassic Park ride is way cooler in Singapore and I didn't think that was possible.  The last day there I managed to come down with a case of the stomach explosion of discomfort, but we still made it to Singapore's world famous zoo.  It was actually really cool.  Many of the animals are free roaming including several of the monkeys and the orangutans.  There were also animals I had never heard of before, like mouse deer.  There are mouse deer?  Sure.

Lunar New Year in Chinatown

Universal Studios Singapore

Proboscis Monkey at the zoo

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