When I arrived in Singapore, I was confident that I'd get used to the place quite easily. It came as a surprise to me that I was a bit taken aback when I walked into a new world of different looking people, speaking in a different accent (some of which I struggled to understand) and an entirely different lifestyle.
It took me a bit to absorb all the strange things around me but once that was settled, I simply loved the place. Out of the few things that struck me about Singapore, what I loved best was that the place seemed to have been planned to work with maximum efficiency. I almost felt a funny tingle that I did not really have to plan & organize things as much as I normally do. Mmm.
The swipe in/swipe out at MRT stations and buses a fantastic idea. Carry one card that works for all. No worrying about ticket costs or carrying change. It reminds you when you need to reload. There are maps everywhere, routes & stations tracked in MRTs... not hard for a newbie to get around the place without help. The once that we asked at an enquiry counter how to get to the zoo/bird park, he handed us a slip with perfect directions. While the automated system worked well, it also meant that you never had to speak with anyone. In a way, the inconspicuous-ness was nice but at times, the human touch is missing.
The city seems to have more females than males. No surprise then that there were shops for women's clothes & accessories everywhere! Scores of them. If you are a shopaholic, you would go crazy here. It's amazing! It was summer when I was there, so everyone wore shorts (I guess I didn't get to see the office crowd, considering I spent most mornings indoors). Having always wanted to do that, I bought a couple of pairs of shorts myself and wore it on my last day at Singapore. Funny how all the women in the city wore trousers on that fateful day! I hardly saw anyone in shorts, so much so that I wondered if I were wearing shorts on a day that did not allow it! That we went to Orchard Street and window-shopped where all the designer and elite crowd roamed, while I was walking about in $10 shorts. Beep beep.
Traffic in Singapore is nothing like in India. The lane discipline is noteworthy, of course, but what really took the cake was cars stopping for pedestrians. Everytime we had to cross a road at a point where there was no signal for pedestrians, we would stop to let a car pass and the car would stop to let us pass. I found myself looking for a red signal each time that happened. Cars park atleast 2 feet away, irrespective of whether they are behind another car or they stop for pedestrians.
The tourist attractions were nice, no doubt. Some were fabulous but some of it seemed over-hyped.
The visit to the zoo was good. So many animals I'd never seen before. Just make sure you ignore that niggly feeling of anguish at watching the animals cooped up in enclosures. We gave the Jurong Bird Park and the Night Safari a miss for lack of time. No regrets about the latter but the JBP might have been interesting, I'm sure.
Sentosa Island was nice but definitely over-hyped. We found it a slightly different version of Innovative Multiplex. Better? Well, it is just a question of personal preference, I suppose. The adventure sports don't quite give you the 'adrenalin rush' they promise, I've seen better in India. I did enjoy the luge and skyride, though. Different. The views from top were brilliant, I am a sucker for those. So we did the Merlion but gave the Sky Tiger & Cable Car a miss (a view is a view, eh?). There is quite a bit to walk about and see, we seemed to have picked a fairly good course, for the wait at the Megazip didn't hit our schedule, took us to the beach instead and at such a perfect time. What better than sunset at the beach after a tiring day? The Underwater world has some of the most amazing water-life I have ever seen before. Much smaller than I anticipated and the squishy feeling about 'animals in enclosures' reared it's head again but ignore that and it's lovely.
Singapore is a shopping paradise, true to their claims. We were there during the month of The Great Singapore Sale and the place is nothing short of Heaven for a shoppaholic! Among others, Mustafa Centre seemed to give some of the best prices and boy, is it huge!
Clarke Quay was beautiful. Amazing number of restaurants and awesome food. We spent quite a bit of time walking around. Seems like a good place to watch people, run if you want to. Oh yeah, now here they had some amazing 'adrenalin rush' games out here. Reverse Bungy - I don't know if I could do it but I think I'd to give it a shot if I get there again.
There is so much else I haven't seen, I'm sure I would love to go back to Singapore. Not so much for the touristy things but to experience the everyday life and people. Maybe with my parents next time? I'm sure dad will be fascinated and mum would be excited. One place ticked off, now to the next.