As fascinating and cutting edge as Singapore was, it was no place for a Hobo. This was the most expensive country I have visited on my journey so I’m glad Hobo L and I only spent 24 hours on a layover there.
Upon arrival we accessed the free wifi in the clean and modern airport in an attempt to find a cheap place to stay. Although a little out of the way, we managed to find a decent hostel for $15 a night. The subway system attached to the airport was incredibly easy to figure out so we made it to our hostel with no issues…. Just the burden of our ever-expanding backpacks.
Upon closer inspection of the Singapore society I became more and more impressed with the way their culture functions. Everything (and I mean everything) is logical, has forethought, and is designed to structure the way the citizens behave. They say that Singapore is the strictest country in the world (smuggling drugs is punishable by death) and I could see subtle signs of this everywhere. I’ll give a few examples:
- To discourage jaywalking they often put decorative fences up on the side of the road to force you to walk at the crosswalks
- Alcohol is incredibly expensive. This may be because everything in Singapore is expensive or because they want to discourage the use of alcohol to maintain a more productive society
- There were specific spots to stand when boarding the subway so the flow of traffic could get off before the new people got on
- There were laneways (just like a road) for walking to keep the flow of people traffic moving in the subway tunnels
- Spitting is illegal. Some say this is Singapore wants to appear more Western to the rest of the world. Big, dirty horks are very common in a lot of Asian cultures
- They marked exactly where cables were buried in the roads so digging it up for construction would be more precise and efficient in the future
- Chewing gum is illegal so people don’t spit it on the ground and make a mess
- They left space on the lit up subway stop signs in each subway car for future expansion
- They used cartoon characters to encourage polite behavior between citizens
After showering and changing into our nicest, cleanest clothes we hopped back on the subway and headed to the downtown core. Singapore is not like the rest of Asia. It is incredibly modern and pricy and reminded me of what I think a warm and tropical New York would be like. Downtown there was a small lake surrounded by a pristine mall, perfectly manicured palm trees on the boardwalk, and restaurants overlooking the water where there was a light and fireworks show. We couldn’t afford to eat at any of the restaurants. In fact our food court mall meal cost over $10 each with no drink.
After weaving in and out of stores such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, and any other expensive brand name you can think of we started wandering home. Unfortunately the subway system shuts down at midnight, even on a Saturday so we had to figure out the bus route home. Everyone was extremely kind and helpful. The bus driver even let us ride the bus for free because we didn’t have the correct change and he made sure we got off at the right stop.
In the morning we were going to go to Mustafa Mall (a 24 hour shopping centre that was 1 km down the road from our hostel) but we reconsidered. We thought that if we can barely afford a food court meal we probably should not be checking out the shopping mall. It was not a problem though because we didn’t have much time to kill before we needed to head back to the airport.
While we were in Singapore I couldn’t help but think how I was finally in a destination that Hubby Hobo would have liked. It was a clean, precise, structured, and respectful country; all the things he loves! Perhaps one day I will bring Hubby Hobo to Singapore …. But I’ll have to wait until I win the lotto.
As we were flying out of Singapore there was interesting surprise; a tornado! I was really nervous to fly into the storm in case the twister got bigger but after flying through some rough turbulence, the skies calmed and we were safely off to our next destination – Bali, Indonesia!