Drinking from a fountain, throwing toilet paper in the toilet, buildings under construction that are well, actually being worked on – these are some things we take for granted in the West. Singapore reminded us of home today!
We couldn’t fly directly from Saigon to Phuket, so we opted to go through Singapore. When I found out there were free tours from the airport, I made sure our time between planes was long enough to accommodate a short trip into the city.
I didn’t expect much from a free tour, but it was well organized and the air conditioned bus was even comfortable for Al. The 2.5 hr tour took us to major sites like Little India, China Town, the Sultan Mosque, and the iconic Merlion statue.
Singapore is a modern city with skyscrapers as the backdrop for heritage buildings that have been well maintained. Our guide said the city has four seasons: summer, summer, summer and summer. The rows of green trees and flowers in various states of bloom proved her point. I wonder what it must be like to cut the grass all year round?
Having experienced rush hour in Ho Chi Minh City just the day before, it was eerie driving around Singapore on a Saturday with virtually no traffic. The crush of scooters present in big cities in Vietnam were nowhere to be found. The shops all had glass windows and were closed off from the street, just like we’re used to at home.
The only thing that was a little disappointing was the haze over the city. Logging and the burning of forests in Indonesia is creating havoc for Singapore’s air quality with the ensuing smoke clogging the air. Singapore is complaining loudly, and even threatening to boycot the forestry products coming from Indonesia. For us the smoke made for poor photos, but we could still see the beauty of the city.
Changi airport is just as beautiful and modern as the city. It’s now number one on my list of favourite airports. Free movies and swimming pool, a butterfly garden (which is actually outside because of the endless summer), koi ponds and orchids everywhere – what’s not to like? They even have an in-transit hotel so you don’t have to go through customs to find a place to sleep.
One day we may come back to Singapore and do the rest of SE Asia that we are missing on this trip.