Impressions Of Singapore

I’ve landed in Singapore. Our crew is staying at Carlton Hotel in Raffles City. Everyone was shocked when we walked into the lobby. This place is gorgeous!

More info about my trip after the jump.

The flight from Manila to Singapore was pretty terrible. We flew Cebu Pacific Air, a budget airline with so little leg room that when the man sitting in front of me leaned back, the seat dug into my knees and wake me up from my slumber (repeatedly).

Before we landed in Changi Airport, Viv gathered us around and prepared us for what we were about to experience. “My mom wants you guys to know that we’re flying into the budget terminal in Changi Airport,” she told us. “Please do not make snap judgments because the terminal is not representative of Singapore!”

Indeed, the terminal was small and dingy. But after buying our duty free alcohol and piling into our shuttle bus, we were taken on a quick tour of the city. Everything I heard about Singapore as the “cleanest city in the world” is absolutely true. I saw not a single piece of trash along the highway. In fact, it took 25 minutes for me to finally find a piece of litter (a newspaper on the ground next to my hotel).

Every tree and bush is carefully trimmed. The grass is nicely mowed. The roads are flat and well-paved.

What’s even more surprising is that every car I saw on the road was clean and shiny. There are apparently zero dirty cars in Singapore. Maybe that’s due to the rain? Or maybe strict laws can actually be effective if enforced consistently.

In any case, Singapore is incredibly clean. According to Viv, the tap water in this country is cleaner than the bottled water in most other countries in the developed world. Awesome.

Tonight, we’re going to Viv’s house for dinner. Then, some people are going to the legendary Marina Bay Sands for fun and gambling. The funny thing about gambling in Singapore is the government wants revenue from outsiders… but it doesn’t want its own citizens to descend into debauchery. So if you’re from Singapore, you have to pay a hefty admission fee to gamble. But if you’re an outsider, you can enter the casinos for free!

Tomorrow morning, we’re going to have lunch at Samy’s Curry, one of the most famous South Indian restaurants. Then, we’ll have a half-day tour of Raffles City and see the original Raffles hotel. This will include a quick run-through of Singapore’s colonial history. Then, we’ll attend a mixer with Berkeley alumni, prospective students, and professional contacts. We’ll end the night at Zouk, Singapore’s oldest night club. According to Viv and Nikhil, Mambo night is a rite of passage for every Singaporean. It’s not a typical club. You actually have to choreograph a dance.

On my final day, I’ll be visiting Little India and Chinatown for a food crawl. Then, our classmates and I will attend an informational event with the Singapore government about career options. There will be some time to shop… and our night will end with a chili crab dinner.

Actually, Chris, Andrew, and I will have to duck out early because we have a flight to Beijing and San Francisco at 11:45p!

I am pumped! After two crazy weeks in South East Asia, I’m looking forward to using Singapore as a decompression chamber.

One last thing. Apparently, Singapore doesn’t like drug dealers and will put them to death! I’m curious to see what effect this policy has had on the city’s crime rate since being implemented.

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