Singapore, The Lion City

In its golden anniversary, I am electing Singapore the crown jewel of the SE Asia area.  And as premature as it may sound at this early stage,  I am confident you’ll come to love Singapore on your first visit, right at the airport, and not just for its proverbial efficiency and safety.  On your way to your accommodation, you will come to the realization as to why Singapore has rightfully earned the epithet of “The Garden City”.

Friendliness

We European may not be accustomed to the smiling and the courtesy one may naturally come to expect here.  Although it may not always be the case, it’s safe to say that generally people will get out of their way to help you in getting you in the right direction.

Getting Around

Nothing easier than catching a bus or hopping on the MRT.  Local Transportation will amaze you with its efficiency and their A/C at full blast.  Consider getting an EZ Card rather than a Tourist Pass, it will most likely work out to be cheaper, if you are on a budget.  With 714.3 square kilometres,  most points of interest are located within a 20 to 30 minutes’ bus ride, tops. One more reason to love Singapore.

Local Cuisine

Rich and diverse, your palate will rejoice at the “hawker’ cuisine, hence food courts are a must if you truly wish to experience Singapore’s culinary multiculturalism.  As a local friend of mine usually says, you cannot say to have been to Singapore, unless you have eaten at the Lau Pa Sat.  Strategically located in the financial district, merely a 5 minute walk from the Marina Bay area, under an ornate colonial structure  highly rich in history, the once-market is now a respected hawker centre, famous for offering mostly the best of the local cuisine.  Rest assured however, Singapore will cater for every palate and every pocket, no matter how expensive you may find it to be.

Shopping

It has been long known that shopping has been Singapore’s national pastime, along with dining.  Shopping malls are all evenly scattered across the island and all contribute in one way or another to the dazzling cityscape.  Aside the usual information you may find on the web, especially if you’re after a luxury brand or the latest gimmick, remember that a 7% GST Tax is also included.   A shopping guide at the airport will provide you with all the information you may need on eligibility and on how to claim for your tax refund.  I can guarantee that the procedure, once passed Immigration at the airport, is smooth and uncomplicated, with virtually no queue.

Finally …

All in all, on my last day in Singapore, I can truly say I’m sad to leave.  Having covered most of the sights I wanted to see, the inclement weather has made my stay somewhat rushed and pressed for time. Although my photography may have suffered from the monsoon weather, my stay was totally unaffected.  What I have enjoyed the most though here in Singapore, is the air I have breathed.  It felt familiar and gave me distant sense of deja-vu ( if such a word exists for smell, more on it later ).   Whether it was the smell of delicious food, or the clean air in parks, or even the smell of cleanliness in shopping malls, somehow they all contributed to a more friendly and happy attitude, to the point that I found myself smiling at strangers for no reason whatsoever.  So, before it gets any worse, I’d better rush to airport to catch my flight to BKK, Thailand.