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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : Well organized Singapore

In the extreme south of the Malay peninsula, it is now possible to take out your passport to change country, because today you can go to the City-State of Singapore. This is a famous place for international business, in part thanks to his huge port activity, that put today Singapore as the first port of the world.  

I spent few days to visit this modern city. I don't think it is a really a good place for “backpacking”, but this transit place is still an interesting place to understand.
 
Here is a brief description of the « Fine City ».
 
 
An organized city
 
For sure, I felt far away from Jakarta, even if it is just at one hour flight from here. In Singapore, everything is well organized. The public transports are very good and the metro helps to go fast and easily around the country. 
 
The metro line of Singapore
 
 
Talking about the metro, I have been quite surprised with how much discipline and docility the Singaporean let the travelers going out of the subway, before to themselves enter it. 
I have to say that the signs on the floor are quite self-explanatory.
 
“Let the people go out before to get in” in the metro station of Singapore 
 
 
There are also some details that surprised me a lot. There is a high care of having a quality life in Singapore, so I experienced some interesting situations... Here is a bus stop on the Sendosa island. If it is too hot, you can push the button to activate the fans!
 
A button to activate the fans in a bus stop
 
 
All the services are available to avoid to pollute. The public toilets are easy to find. No more “French toilets” (as in France is called “Turkish toilets”). However, I felt myself a bit tall.. Which doesn't happen every day!
 
 
In the same idea of organizing, I found a good way to recycle the trashes. In Singapore, it can't be more clear and easy to understand, so I think it helps to make it work.
 
Some bins in Singapore 
 
 
 
Fine or Fine ?
 
From there, we can say that there are no more reason to pollute. Still, if you have the temptation to throw your trash in the street, you are exposing yourself to astronomical fines.
Chewing a gum in a public place can lead to a 5000 euros fine. No I didn't add any zero.
 
In fact, there are rules for everything in Singapore. When I say rule, it's more to not say '”nterdiction”. The society is very regulated and the freedom of movement is quite limited. 
 
Fordidden to cross the road here
 
 
Obligation to fill up your tank with fuel before to leave Singapore. It is a good reason to not buy it cheaper in Malaysia.
 
 
Safety is also a personal duty in Singapore. This reminded me a bit the constant state of fear that the US government was trying to keep in his own country. For example, in the Singaporean metro, there are always voice messages that were encouraging you to denounce someone who could look a bit suspect. Also, many posters are there to remind it to you, in case you have forgotten.
 
« Suspect it, report it »
 
 
Yes, in Singapore, safety is a way of life. I didn't invented it!
 
 
I didn't have the impression that this kind of message would help to socialize with each other, but more to beware. However, the Singaporean kept their common sense. Even though they are generally very busy with their work, they remain available if you ask them something and they will help you, with a smile.
 
 
A modern city
 
According to the IMF, Singapore is considered as a “developed country”. Singapore has been built for trading.  The State-City is almost entirely urbanized and its fourth millions of inhabitants need to import their needs, that can't obviously come from Singapore. Have you ever tried to grow carrots on concrete?
So Singapore became an important trading center. Simply, this is the biggest port in the world with Shanghai.
 
I met again Rupert, the captain with who  I crossed the Pacific Ocean by sailing boat. This one live currently in Singapore. He was telling that his arrival by sailing to Singapore was hectic. Indeed, hundreds and hundreds of containers, cargo and tankers were wandering around the Singapore Strait.
 
Meeting again with Rupert, the captain with who I cross the Pacific Ocean by sailing boat
 
 
Accordingly, the city is modern. The towers arise everywhere and at night the lights from the city enlighten almost the whole country.
 
The towers arise everywhere, like here in Clarke Quay
 
 
Sometimes, the buildings are unbelievable, like those three towers supporting on their top a platform looking like a cruising ship on Marina Bay.
 
 
The modernity also leads the Singaporean to refuse the hot and wet weather by installing AC (air-conditioner) everywhere. I would have never thought that I would need a jacket in the middle of Tropical Asia! Every restaurant, office or the countless shopping malls (shopping seems to be the national sport there) are bringing down the temperature thanks to the air-conditioning.
 
Air-conditioners everywhere, like here in those apartments in Chinatown
 
 
 
What about hitchhiking?
 
Forbidden.
But in the same time, it would be like trying to stop vehicles in the middle of Manhattan. It doesn't really make sense. I usually don't hitchhike in the urban areas for the same reason. It is generally only local traffic, so few possibilities to get interurban vehicles. 
 
However, I still gave it a go. Just to say that it is possible to hitchhike in Singapore... And it worked pretty well. I was on Sendosa Island (next to “Universal Studio” for those who know) and I could easily stop a vehicle of local workers. Even in Singapore, it is possible then...
 
 
 
At the end, I find that Singapore is a commercial city, based on individualistic and work values. Every is clean but also like “sanitized”. The freedoms are rare but the society is organized. Singapore is maybe an interesting place to live but it depends really of the priorities. It is also a cosmopolitan and multicultural city. There are four official languages: English, Chinese, Tamil and Malay. 
 
Four official languages
 
 
The stopover was interesting to understand the world, but the encounters with the locals were too rare and superficial. I guess that my future stopover in Hong Kond will remind me a bit of Singapore. 
 
I go today towards Thailand and I imagine that I will discover another interesting culture.
 
See you soon for the next article,
 
Jeremy



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