Singapore: First impressions
I’ve always dreamt of travelling to Asia. Actually, that’s a lie. I never cared for Asia until I moved to Dubai 5 years ago. Maybe it was the sudden proximity to this part of the world, or the exposure to people of the region, or possibly simply my growing thirst for travel and experience. But I basically started to crave the thought of discovering Asia.
I went to Thailand twice, once to Phuket, and once to Koh Samui, both wonderful islands. I travelled alone and took part in two completely different yoga retreats. Best time of my life. Honestly.
I always imagined what Singapore would be like. People always compare it to Dubai and say that Singapore is the Dubai of the future. I finally got my chance to discover it first hand.
I arrived a few days ago to my beautiful hotel, The Fullerton. Once home to the General Post Office, The Singapore Club and the Chamber of Commerce, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore is now a luxury hotel. It’s truly stunning and carries so much history with it.
I’ve already done some walking around and visited a few parts of the city. I’ll highlight a couple of the spots I particularly enjoyed, just in case you may be visiting soon:
The Merlion: The Merlion is a traditional creature in western heraldry that depicts a creature with a lion head and the body of a fish. In Singapore, it’s now become a marketing icon used as a mascot and national personification of Singapore.
Marina Bay Sands: Marina Bay Sands is a resort along the Marina Bay in Singapore. There’s a glorious shopping mall, casino, and fully integrated resort. Developed by Las Vegas Sands, they say it’s the world’s most expensive standalone casino property. Atop Marina Bay Sands lies the famous Ku de Ta, a beautiful lounge with 360 views of the city. That’s where I’m headed to tonight folks.
Haji Land: This is a tiny alley between Arab street and Bali lane. You find the cutest tiny boutiques with one-of-a-kind bohemian and hand crafted items. This is definitely my kind of place.
Clarke and Boat Quay: Imagine lots of popular bars, pubs, all perched on the edge of the river along Clarke and Boat Quay. I loved the laid back vibe of this area, so refreshing from the sometimes stuffy luxury of Dubai.
You may be wondering what are my very first impressions of Singapore and Singaporeans (hence the title):
The city is so clean. Everything is perfectly aligned and the streets are polished to perfection. It’s borderline boring. I want to see trash, and smell the stink of the subway! Is that so wrong?
People are so so so nice. They smile, greet you, offer to help. Have I mentioned how nice Singaporeans are? I used to pride myself in believing that Canadians were the friendliest people on earth. I’ve been proven wrong. Singaporeans are by far the nicest people, ever.
The city is quiet. Maybe I haven’t seen the weekend hustle and bustle yet but so far it seems very quiet. Sometimes I catch myself whispering in the streets. People walk swiftly, talk softy. No loud voices, no people dancing in the streets. The only music I’ve heard so far is classical and jazz.
Everything is expensive. Seriously.
And I thought Dubai was expensive! A meal easily adds up to SGD 80 and you barely had time to blink. A car license is SGD 100,000 and is only valid for 10 years. That’s the price of a car in itself! Sure, that’s great for discouraging people from buying cars and it helps to keep pollution under control. But seriously?!
The city is hot as hell.
I thought my colleagues were joking when they said Singapore is hot. How could it be hotter than Dubai? What a joke. Well, well, well. I’ve had to shower three times a day because it’s so freaking hot! Humid, sticky, just unimaginably hot.
Taxis are unbelievably hard to get by. They seem to have shift changes every few hours and queues are a nightmare! But people quietly wait their turn. I don’t think I can be that patient folks.
Singapore is very safe.
People leave their IDs or credit card on empty tables to book their spot while waiting in line at a sandwich shop. Anywhere else in the world, your card would be gone in a second.
Finally, a couple of things you may or may not know about Singapore but that are sure to put a smile on your face:
1. You’re not allowed to chew gum. Good luck finding any to buy in Singapore! Maybe there’s a black market for if? In any case, don’t worry, all sorts of mints are available everywhere to cure you of bad breath.
2. You’re not allowed to fart in a cab. At least in the ones I boarded. Interesting. Hypothetically, if you did let out a silent fart, how could the cab driver prove it was you? You may just endlessly blame each other for the bad smell.
Gotta go get ready for a (hopefully) not so quiet night out. See you later.