Singapore, the country of prohibitions

I didn’t know what to expect from Singapore. It always sounded like a rich, over-sterile place with not too much charm or soul. What I found was a break from the heat, from insane traffic, from bad public transportation. Fresh air, clean streets.

I walked in and the first thing i encountered was a line, with a path drawn on the floor, indicating where to line up to use the ATM. People were indeed standing within the lines, waiting in an orderly fashion. This Canadian guy I met on the bus and I felt pretty out of place, with our backpacker clothes, sun burnt skin and overall grungy look that i hadnt even realized i had until i saw Singaporeans. We are no longer in backpacker land.

I chose to Couch Surf for many reasons, but mainly because of the price of Singapore. A dorm in a hostel was $25 singaporean dollars, about $20 USD. This is the price I had payed for the most expensive hotel I’ve stayed at, in Siem Reap, but I had a beautiful room and an amazing pool. Very different for sharing a dorm with 11 other people.

My host showed me around a few places: we went to the party place of Singapore, CBD &The Quays to watch some rock music played live in a bar called Crazy Elephant. I had not done this in about three months so it felt like home! I ate at Hooters (yes I know, kill me, but I had not eaten anything all day, it was 10 pm and my level of starvation was insane… Also seeing an Asian Hooters is kind of funny. Come on. You know it is.)

The next day I did a walk around little India and the Arab street, where I paid $7 USD for a glass of Iced Tea in an Swedish restaurant. I promised my host I would be back by 7:30, but got quite distracted by the beautiful sunset coming out of the absurdly clean metro. We went to a rooftop bar, again I don’t even want to tell you how much we paid for cover. We payed for the view though, and I saw how where we were standing was land reclaimed from the ocean, how the Singaporean beach is made with sand from Indonesia, and how there were thousands of boats waiting in the horizon to dock.

The epitome of Singaporean consumerism is of course Orchard road. I had never encountered such luxury, well dressed people, international brands, cleanliness… If KL is futuristic then Singapore is Utopian.