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SINGAPORE | Monday, 19 January 2015 | Views [374]

On the Hop-on Hop-off bus, staring in wonder at the Singapore skyline.

On the Hop-on Hop-off bus, staring in wonder at the Singapore skyline.

What an amazing city.  It sparkles with high-rises, each more spectacular than the last.  There’s lots of glass, steel, and stone, but they’ve also managed to maintain a lot green in town.  Trees and vine covered terraces are part of every building’s features.

The streets are immaculate, the people are polite, and the atmosphere in town is all about money-making bustle.

We started by taking the subway into the center of town from the cruise terminal, then jumped on the Hop-on Hop-off open top bus for about three hours.  We spent a lot of our time on the bus gazing upward, I’m pretty sure we had our mouths hanging open much of the time.  These are not just rectangular high rises, with the occasional tower thrown in.  There are lots of curves, bridges between buildings, and amazing gardens at all levels everywhere.  There is one “resort” near the cruise ship harbor that’s made up of three separate residential towers, all three capped at the top with an enormous flat oval of gardens, forests, playgrounds, swimming pools, bars, and restaurants.  We were told that it was just completed this past year, and cost $5.4 billion to build.

Living in Singapore is not cheap, and the government has come up with several ways to reduce traffic congestion, which seem to have worked very well:  (1) to be able to register a car, you must buy into a lottery, which costs $60-75,000, then (2) when you buy a car, you have to pay an additional 100% VAT, and finally, (3) there are electronic counters all throughout the city checking how many miles you drive your car, and you get charged road use fees accordingly.  The average is $450-500 per month.  Surprisingly, these measures haven’t deterred lots of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Rolls Royce owners, and Lexus and BMWs are at the low end of the vehicle spectrum.

The city has a reputation for sparkling cleanliness, and it’s well-deserved.  The subway is the cleanest we’ve ever seen (and it’s really simple to use), and the streets are immaculate.

After the Hop-on Hop-off bus, we had a great lunch of pork+veg dumplings, spicy noodles, lemongrass tea, and Tiger beer.  (Not a fork or spoon on the table!  Practicing for rural China, you know.)

Then we walked around for a couple of hours, working our way back to the ship.  It seemed like every high-rise had a shopping mall on the first few floors, so we easily found all the things we’ve been needing.

Singapore is definitely on our list of cities to revisit when we come back for a lengthier exploration of this part of the world.

Next day was spent at sea headed north on the east side of the Malay Peninsula, and the following day we spent at a very mediocre and rather crowded beach at Ko Samui, Thailand.


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