April 11th, 2014
We arrived in Singapore in the morning to the sound of tropical birds and the sight of lush vegetation softened by the haze of high humidity. We docked fairly close to the center of town (but everything is fairly close in Singapore). The subway and a mall are just outside the cruise terminal.
I expected a modern city - I didn't expect a vibrant, clean (in MARKED contrast to the rest of SE Asia), progressive city-state that seems to value it's citizens and its environment more than any country I have ever visited. We took a tour to see the top sites and our guide, Tom-Tom, was funny and enthusiastic and full of interesting tidbits.
Singapore has gotten some bad press for its draconian response to litter, gum, etc. However, I can only describe it as a dictatorship in the pursuit of social justice. It has been transformed from a teeming, disease-ridden backwater to a thriving, progressive state. The per capita income is very high in Singapore and unemployment is only 1.5%. Housing is clean and modern and all citizens have a stake in their living environment. Pollution is minimal due to policies about traffic and car ownership.
Singapore is a melange of religions and cultures and everyone respects those differences. I asked Tom-Tom if there were sanctions for hate speech and prejudice. She looked at me quizzically and said that children learn these values very early. Schools require uniforms to minimize class differences and school children visit cultural sites and learn about other cultures as part of the curriculum. All holidays of all religions and cultures are celebrated by everyone.
Our tour took us all over the city, starting with a cruise on the Singapore River
(sculpture on the banks of the river)
and ended at the Raffles Hotel Long Bar for a Singapore Sling.
For lunch I was on a quest for black pepper crab after Tom-Tom was waxing rhapsodic about how "finger licking good" it was. She was absolutely correct. We asked at several restaurants before we found it at Tunglok Signatures restaurant. It was phenomenal! We were up to our elbows in sauce, made a mess of the table, looked like pigs at the trough, but happy, happy, happy!