Friday travel: Singapore surprises

People are often divided on Singapore … some love the fact that it is seen as clean, and safe, and controlled – while others dislike its authoritarian, buttoned-down nature (which is necessary for it to be clean, and safe, and controlled …)

Me? I was always conflicted. And I still am.

We are in Singapore this week for the first time since 2010 and I have to say while much remains the same, there are some differences that have struck me.

Yesterday, for example, as we walked from our hotel in the Lavender district past Arab Street and down to Bugis I noticed that Singapore’s much-vaunted ‘clean, litter-free’ status was taking a bit of a beating.

As was a man who was sitting on a seat, just watching the world go by. He may have fallen, he may have sustained the grazes all over his face some other way .. but I have to say, my first thought was that he’d been in a fight that morning.

Then there was the Singapore Flyer wheel.

This is a great way to view the city, and it was clean, and ordered, and well maintained.

And yet the pre-ride exhibition (which I don’t remember from our 2010 visit) was only about 1/3 operational.

Many exhibits were “under maintenance”, while others were suffering from technological glitches that made them worse than useless: they promised so much, and yet failed to deliver.

There was construction pretty much everywhere we went yesterday .. and while that’s a sign of continued progress and continued development, it just somehow looked more untidy than last time we were here.

But the city-state still has that buttoned-down feel I mentioned. And we are off to Vietnam on the weekend – where I suspect the place will have an entirely different vibe 🙂

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