I had heard a lot about this marvellous clinically clean city around the continental corner and, as a good traveller looking for value-for-his-and-his-neighbours’-money, I logged on to a million sites to gather all I could about thing to do while there. I found a lot of information, much of which was put out as lists which mostly stated “10 things to do in Singapore”. I read so many ratings that it almost felt competitive to decide what to visit and what to leave out. Singapore is very impressive, don’t get me wrong but I was very confuddled how to put forth this plethora of information without creating further confusion in your already-softened minds. Hope this helps…
1.Do not Spit/Litter. In case you missed it above, Singapore is clinically clean; I mean you could deliver a baby or carry on surgery by the roadside and have little chances of any infection. The people aren’t just fastidiously clean, they are merely too scared to litter; scared to poverty in fact. Litter and you could be paying fines of upwards of 200 Sing dollars (multiply by 33 for the Indian equivalent.)
2.Do not play it safe with food. Experiment all you can and as long as you can: from roadside hawkers to high-end restaurants. The food is awesome but for some it could take some getting used to. Carnivores like me will not notice anything different. Laksa, Black Pepper Crab, Rojak, Kaya toast and Hainanese Chicken Rice – try all of these before you get to the airport or else you haven’t really visited Singapore.
3.Do not cross the road when the pedestrian light is red. Depending on the intersection, time of day and the mood of the police officer hiding like a crouched dragon at the other end, a hefty fine could eat into your vacation spending. Also, if you are driving, do not try and avoid paying the ERP. You will pay more in fines than you did to buy/hire the car. Instead, buy an ERP clock, it is a cruel reminder of how the government reaches into your pocket and takes your money. But the good thing is that, unlike in India, the administration there puts it back to improve the system.
4.Do not try Foot Reflexology: Contrary to what your taxi driver tells you, these massages don’t put you to sleep, unless you consider unconsciousness a form of rest. For the average Joe, these are torturous and painful and the only way you will not feel it is when you pass out with the pain. But in fact, the pain is good, it tells you just how mucked up your system is and just how much massaging it needs to be revived and set in order. As the session continues, the pain subsides and when you get up to leave, you can fly! Even the utterly sinful claim to walk two inches above the ground.
5.Do not try a Durian. Think of a cardboard box-full of over-ripe Alphonso mangoes left in a car with the windows rolled up on the hottest summer day. The ensuing smell the following year is what a tender durian fruit can smell like. The taste is even more pronounced and you can be assured of burping it up for the rest of the day. Think of it as a social tool as useful as an unripe onion, only sweeter. But if you must, head go Good Wood Park hotel and try some of their high tea desserts. However, if your social scene is as “hectic” as mine and mainly involves knitting or staying in and playing with the family pet on a Saturday night, by all means stock up on the little things: for all that people may say, they taste divine!
6.Do not ask the chef to spice up the food. Indians may think that they are the chilli kings of the world. Well, South America and road-side hawker-style Singapore food could prove them seriously and ulcerously Wong, oops! I mean wrong. The Chilli Crab at Jumbo Sea Food is also one killer of a species…but damn tasty too! Try it, but don’t keep meetings for the next few hours, or till next morning.
7.Do not go shopping: Unless your father, legitimate or otherwise, is the Sheikh of a moderate-sized Fascist regime, do not even bother venturing into Singapore to shop. It’s not because they don’t have much to offer but because they have so much to offer that you could end up spending your last currency note, food coupons and return ticket all in just one mall. Now if I were to mention the very popular Orchard road, aka Simply a Great Road has more malls than Bombay has slums, you can imagine the density and danger involved in taking some time to browse the shops. Whoever made that movie on shopaholics definitely was inspired by Singapore. No wonder then that shopping is not considered a chore or an indulgence in this country but the most preferred national past-time.
8.Do not be scared of the fish: Be it in your plate, or in a pond, fish, in Singapore, are safe. Whether you be eating them in a fine dining with lemon-butter and your girlfriend, or they eating you (the fish that is, not your girlfriend), there is nothing to be feared. Chances of being fish food in Singapore are high if you happen to be in a Fish Spa where this aptly named, Spa fish, eats the dead skin off between your toes and around your heels. It shows a whole new and gross side of pedicure but the trouble is, it feels fantastic and looks even better. The fish are of three sizes, depending on how much of a ‘shock’ you want to feel buzzing around your feet. It is almost embarrassing to see how they swarm around you as you take the first dip; their thoughts at that point may be something like, “Hoochie mamma, look at that moving buffet of dead skin. C’mon’ fellas! There’s more than enough for everybody on those little pinkies!” thus shattering your beliefs about being an ardent metrosexual.
9.Do not get home early: This city, I mean country, I mean both, is safe. It is safe enough for women to walk through but that isn’t saying much: many places today are safe for women to walk in the middle of the night. In more fitting a comparison for today’s rather happy and gay times, consider Singapore safe even for a handsome bloke to walk through without being offered odd-ends and all by something as camp as a scout dwelling. The night life is vibrant and varied and vivacious! Wait, I just repeated something there…nevermind. But the fact is that for funky well-made cocktails, great music (live or with a DJ) and fancier larger than life clubs from the city to on the beach to groove and boogie the night away, Singapore is one party haven! Sure you shouldn’t trust such opinions coming from someone who still uses terms like ‘groove and boogie’ but make an exception in my case; I may be a bit past it but I can tell a good nightspot when I’ve staggered out of one.
10.Do not always listen to fools like me. This is for all those who were disagreeing with me all along. I like Singapore. Hell, I can’t think of any place more shopping-centric, more clean and cosmopolitan. Sure it is humid and only has two seasons (a dry summer and a wet summer) but it also has ample natural beauty. Evenings are pleasant and the people are polite. And funny! Singaporeans like to make fun of their government saying that the ruling PAP stands for Pay and Pay. Well, if it helps keep the city cleaner than our temples and the people and drivers safe on the streets, I don’t think it is such a bad idea. Nobody understands their own good till they have to part with some money; then they seem to understand (or at least respond) better.
Which makes me wonder, why don’t I charge for accessing my blog? Would they appreciate my drivel (not more, just, finally) if I made people pay for it, or would it scare my ardent readers away? Not that many people read it anyway? Now I have shared too much.
As for me, this is end of my Singapore rant. I can think of a million things I haven’t covered here, but hey, it is only five hours away and the hotels are cheaper and better than India. In short, expect such lists every now and then; especially when you are browsing the net and stumble upon my site one Saturday night, with Dido on your lap and Durian on your breath!