Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Singapore: Dodging a Spanking in the Nanny State

The following will cost you dearly in Singapore:
Littering : $100 fine
Urinating in public:$500
Not wearing your seat belt in a car $120
Chewing gum: only for medicinal purposes, you just have to write your name and identity card number down for the pharmacist and then you are licensed to chew.
Dangerous Dogs: not allowed
Poppyseeds: not allowed
Trafficking in Drugs: execution

It’s kind of easy to scoff at Singapore’s paternalistic attitude, coming from the U.S., where we believe that we have the freedom and rights to do such minor things as chew gum and make poppyseed bagels, and that general good manners ensure that people aren’t spitting on the ground (then again maybe not), but after traveling through some of the dirtier parts of the world, we initially thought, maybe Singapore’s sterile nature isn’t too bad, especially for anal folks like us who store our food in labeled matching Tupperware containers.

Singapore is a city, a state and a country, all tidily packaged on an island smaller than the state of Connecticut. Its influences are Chinese, Indian, British, and Malay, but it’s a country that’s intent on out-modernizing and outclassing the rest of the world.

While in Singapore, we spent hours at the Asian Civilizations Museum, which nicely summed up our past three months of travel, as we looked at many of the artifacts, some from China, Tibet, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. We bought traditional Indian outfits, the salawar kameez, which is a loose pair of pants, tunic and scarf. We ate banana leaf curry (way too hot for me),

had our fortunes “told” by a parrot,

and once again sought out aircon, for we are not mad dogs or Englishmen and prefer to stay out of the mid-day sun. Singapore is the closest we’ve gotten to the equator, and the temperatures never vary much throughout the year. You basically have steaming sultry hot and steaming hot, the difference being the locals wear fewer clothes in the sultry weather, since for them just steaming hot is “winter.”

We enjoyed an afternoon on Sentosa Island with our friend Emma (who survived the raft ride with us in Chiang Mai), and had a satisfying meal in Holland Village. Before leaving Singapore, we had to experience high tea in the Tiffin Room at Raffles,

where we could re-live the glory days of the British empire while tiny birds flew around the lobby.

With all the rules and regulations (we knew we could be fined if we didn’t flush a public toilet), we were starting to feel some teenage rebellion coming on. Do we dare jump the queue for a taxi? Risk a caning should we decide to disobey a traffic sign? Perhaps, but we know there are serious consequences to playing naughty in Singapore, and we loath any budget lodging that comes with a bed bolted in the wall, and bars on the window. Best to get out of town while we were ahead.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to try the pepper crab while you are there. There is nothing like it. Kim S.

November 29, 2005 7:06 PM  

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