Singapore is a city filled with expensive cars, a ludicrous amount of shopping malls, tall building complexes complete with pools, grounds, and fountains, futuristic architecture, and the latest fashion. Singapore was definitely a culture shock for us! We no long had to watch out for holes in the streets or motorbikes hitting us as we attempted to cross the street, nor did we have to buy bottled water or watch what we ate. It’s truly an amazing city, amazing in the way you wonder how on earth they managed this… a little dot in the middle of Malaysia, surrounded by all sides, with such wealth and cleanliness.
Hobbies among Singaporeans: shopping, shopping, and shopping. Singapore would compete with New York, LA, Paris, etc. as a large, fashion-filled city! Every brand or clothing imaginable is here, from Gucci and Prada to local designers and clothes made of bamboo fibers. The main street, Orchard Road is not just a “road” of shiny, architecturally interesting shops and massive shopping centers, it’s also the road to an empty bank account.
However, I think that at one point it was a little too much; with so much selection and choices and sheer amount of stuff, you have no idea what to buy or where to go, and then end up buying nothing at all. When you have the choice, as the automated voice on the hop-on-hop-off bus has said, to go to shopping center this, that, or the other, filled with hundreds of different stores, how are you supposed to choose?
When you see the speckless sidewalks, free of trash, and impeccable streets and waterfronts, you ask yourself how? Fines. There is literally a fine for everything that could in any way, shape, or form disrupt or dirty the perfection. Instead of “No Smoking Please”, it’s a “No Smoking. By Law. Fine of $1000”. Which I have no problem with whatsoever.
No Pests. By Law.
Something we noticed right away in Singapore was this: there are no mosquitos! We attended a family barbecue, many of my father’s family is also here; it was near the water front, warm, and dusk came around… and there were no mosquitos. The answer to this riddling question is: not only do mosquitoes annoy people with their itchy stings, but they also transfer blood from one person to another. This makes disease more probable and since we don’t want any of that in our little perfect bubble, something is done about it. The government sprays everything regularly with mosquito killer. Everyone is required, by law of course, to treat their pools and any standing water with a special chemical as well. Government officials randomly come, have permission to enter your home, and test the water. If, by any chance, you have not treated your water, then there is, of course, a fine. This makes the atmosphere much more enjoyable in the evening – until there is that knock on your
The botanical gardens in Singapore are truly beautiful – we visited twice! The grounds are well laid out, allowing for leisurely walks or runs, tai chi or pilates classes, rest and relaxation. There are mini-lakes, fountains, and ponds. There was a ginger garden, herb garden, healing garden, bonsai garden (mini-trees) and more. It was, of course, perfectly organized. The Children’s Garden was fun, complete with mazes, tree houses, splash-pads and more. The National Orchid garden was gorgeous! We saw just about every orchid type and we even saw carnivorous plants in the cooling house (for plants that need less than 80+ degrees).
We truly enjoyed a taste of the Switzerland of Asia. We even contemplated the idea of living here for a year or two – there’s a large financial district complete with the stock market broadcasted across the side of a building, an English-based society, the chance to learn Mandarin (it seems as though the children here are being trained for careers in business), and more. That is, until we saw the price of real estate here.
There is much more to come – Arab street, Little India, Chinatown, hawker centers (food stall centers), the best dumpling of my life, and more!