Tuesday 8th July – Singapore to Perth

Although Singapore grew on me (like a very sanitised, healthy rash with no visible blemishes which might offend ) it was a somewhat strange place.  All the locals you talk to, such as taxi drivers, will go on at length about how great a place it is, how clean, safe etc.  My guidebook summarises this well:

“At the core of this success is the unwritten bargain between Singapore’s paternalistic government and acquiescent population, which stipulates the loss of a certain amount of personal freedom, in return for levels of affluence and comfort that would have seemed unimaginable at independence in the 1960s.  Outsiders often bridle at this, and it’s true that some of the regulations can seem extreme:  neglecting to flush a public toilet, jaywalking, chewing gun and eating on the subway all carry sizeable fines……


It’s with some irony that Singaporeans refer to the place as a “fine city”.  There’s a fine of S$500 for smoking in public places such as cinemas, trains, lifts, air-conditioned restaurants and shopping malls, and one of S$50 for jaywalking – here defined as crossing a main road within 50m of a pedestrian crossing or bridge.  Littering carries a S$1000 fine, with offenders forced to do litter-picking duty, while eating or drinking on the MRT could cost you S$500.  Other fines include those for urinating in lifts (some lifts are supposedly fitted with urine detectors), not flushing a public toilet and chewing gum (which is outlawed in Singapore).”


So now you know what to do, or rather what not to do.  Although I must say that littering is one offence which bugs me in England.  However, as noted, it is pretty easy to mock the rules, particularly ones like the following:


“At other times, Singapore tries so hard to reshape itself that it falls into self-parody, “We have to pursue this subject of fun very seriously if we want to stay competitive in the twenty-first century”, was the reaction of former Minister of State George Yeo, when confronted with the fact that some foreigners find Singapore dull.  The government’s annual courtesy campaign, which in 1996 urged the population to hold lift doors open for neighbours and prevent their washing from dripping onto passers-by below appears equally risible to outsiders”.


So….on Tuesday I woke up, having had too little sleep and hailed a cab to the airport.  I didn’t technically have the two hours pre-flights time suggested but still decided that left me plenty of time to browse the duty free and check out the plethora of fine perfumes on offer.  Unfortunately some fool decided that smokers didn’t need to know about silly things like gates closing for flights which resulted in me ambling out of the smoking area only to see the big red “gates closing” notice next to my flight number.  Fortunately I was wearing a brand new pair of wedges so was able to run like a complete moron towards the gate!  Some people may think my attitude to flights and airports slightly laid-back and blaze but you have to inject excitement into the whole process somehow right?  I mean, airports are one of the dullest places in the World.


So I got on my flight and sat next to a guy who hadn’t discovered either deoderant or anti-snoring strips and wondered whether Australia could possibly compare to South-East Asia.



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