Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Singapore Impressions

Singapore. A powerful, modern city-state and island nation in Southeast Asia. It has one of the world's biggest financial center and also a major key player in the commercial industry globally. At a glance, SG is a place you were probably dreaming of. It has state-of-the-art buildings, superb infrastructures and dynamic transportation system. They say, you will always want what you don't or couldn't have. Maybe that's why many Filipinos are ecstatic about vacationing in Singapore. Parang ang sosyal ng dating.

high and mighty Singapore
I wasn't one of those Filipinos but I don't have anything against them. I am just not a fan of ultramodern cities. I've been to other Southeast Asian cities numerous times before I agreed with Beau to visit SG. It was just not on my travel priority list. But now that I've had a chance to visit it, let me tell you what I think.

Singapore Changi Airport

Some people say airports give you the first impression of the country you're visiting. Changi gives you that exceptional impression. It was the nicest and coolest airport I've ever been to. There's no exaggeration in that. It really is. It deserves the first rank it always gets every single year. I won't go into details anymore. You'll find out why once you're there. ;)

somewhere in Little India

When we got to the city, we began to notice what Singapore is known for. Cleanliness and discipline. It is dubbed as "The Fine City" which could mean two things. First is "fine" referring to its impeccable reputation. Second, because it imposes "fines" for rule violations. Choose whatever meaning you like but be sure to know which deeds are illegal before heading there to avoid sticky situations :)

Merlion Park by day

Moving around in SG is pretty easy because of their efficient transportation system. You can see all the city tourist attractions just by using the MRT and a few bus rides.

Old Parliament House

It is a walkable city too. With clean paved roads and low crime rate, tourists won't have problems by just casually walking around the streets of SG. After visiting the Merlion Park, we decided to just walk from Raffles Place to City Hall. From there we passed by the Parliament Lane which is decorated by beautiful British colonial buildings.

facade of the Old Parliament House

On the next street across the Art House formerly the Old Parliament, is the rather boring New Parliament House. It has no charm whatsoever.

New Parliament House Singapore

I hardly remember where we went to end up in Victoria St. where we saw St. Joseph's Church. It has an eye-catching Gothic style which I liked. Portuguese missionaries built this church back in the 1900s.

St. Joseph's Church

So there you go. Those are the things that I liked about Singapore (besides SG Zoo and USS). You wouldn't think it is my least favorite city in Southeast Asia, would you?

***

Well, it actually is. Sure I was dazzled by it's first world caliber and I admire its outstanding global stature, but that was it. I find Singapore soulless and bleak. I don't know how to explain it but it's like looking everywhere and all I see is just grey. It was that bleak. That was how I remember it. Without any excitement, without any colors.

People were too cold. They seemed to deal with other people only on business level. There was no human interaction. I wasn't expecting a chit-chat or anything but I didn't encounter someone who actually smiles or someone who answers back and appreciates you saying "Thank you" to them.

you can catch the Marina Bay Sands Light Show every night

They give you an impression like "I'm at work so don't bother me". They will give you what you need, wait for your payment and you'll spend your remaining minutes wanting to leave immediately because you don't feel welcome at all. I am not complaining about how they treat other people. I am just saying that I didn't like it personally.

I also noticed that even very old people are still working and I couldn't help but feel a little bit sorry for them. First world economy means, a higher cost of living. In this scenario, those who are in the lower levels of the society struggles to cope up with it. They don't have a choice but to do anything to survive - a lonely fact. There is nothing wrong with that. I just feel sad about it.

@ The Merlion Park at night

Coming from a developing nation, I wouldn't say I didn't enjoy its first world amenities. But as a traveler, I really didn't feel glad being there. I can walk in the filthy streets of India and feel okay with it. I can ride a horse cart in a dusty unpaved road in Myanmar and still feel happy about it. I can be pestered by numerous Cambodian children selling stuff every single day but I can still smile while refusing them.

Singapore on the other hand was perfect. You can go with your day to day itinerary without any annoyances. Everything was smooth... but I don't know, it felt empty for me. There was just no joy in walking around the immaculate streets of SG. No warmth in the deadpan faces of its people. Someday, I might go back there to give it another try but it won't be anytime soon.




Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery


This ends my Singapore travel series.

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