Singapore Overview

I spent Sunday, December 27, 2009, through Saturday, January 2, 2010, in Singapore. Nominally, Di Yin and I were there to cheer up a friend going through relationship troubles. Really, I was happy to use any excuse possible to return to one of my favorite cities.

I'm happy to report that I liked Singapore as much on my second visit as on my first. I took the opportunity to visit a few sights I missed last time, tried some dishes I didn't get the opportunity to eat last time (darn limited number of meals in a day!) and enjoyed the food and eating at hawker centres in general, and exploited the freshly squeezed / freshly blended juices much more than on my first visit. I will certainly miss these ever-present refreshing juices when I'm back in Shanghai.

The rest of this entry reports a motley assortment of my observations from this trip to Singapore.

Singapore is warm, comfortably so at times. Within in a few days, I forgot what it was like being cold.

It's also a green city: lots of grass and trees. Furthermore, in contrast to Shanghai, though Singapore also has construction, it has no dust issue at all. I have a theory that it's the vegetation that keeps down the dust. Oddly, I can't remember hearing construction noise in Singapore either; maybe it's heavily regulated to be quiet?

The government creates incentives / uses capitalism to achieve its policies. The most interesting two such goals I learned about on this trip are that the government provides money to people who have kids when they're young (i.e., encourages people to become parents early in life) and that the government requires people to be married to live in most public housing complexes (i.e., encourages people to get married). (Note: the vast majority of the population lives in publicly built housing complexes.)

It's also a capitalism/shopping-intensive city. During this trip, at some point I noticed how many ATMs there are. Once I started paying attention I realized: they're everywhere! Nevertheless, they often have lines.

Staying with a friend a wee bit away from city centre, I got to see more of Singapore's suburban architecture than I'd previously seen. Many apartment complexes are raised on pillars. When walking from place to place, one can walk under the buildings (i.e., through these shelters), enjoying the shade and an unobstructed breeze. Also, I recall that, at least in Britain, ground floor apartments are considered less desirable. With this Singaporean design, no one has to live at ground level. In addition, many buildings are connected by covered walkways, saving everyone from having to walk in the sun. In many areas, one can walk a long way in the shade using these ground floor areas and covered walkways. Obviously, this isn't true downtown, but the design isn't needed there because indoor air-conditioned malls connect buildings.

The rest of my impressions of Singpoare (as expressed in my original blog post, linked above) still hold.

One other observation of Singapore: the naming of streets is logical. When we arrived on Sunday, we headed straight for our friend's place on Sunset Vale. Sunset Vale is near Sunset Avenue, Sunset Drive, Sunset Road, Sunset Lane, ... Every street in the country/city with Sunset in the name is in the same neighborhood (except one: a mistake), making it easy to give rough directions. Other neighborhoods in Singapore have the same property: Commonwealth, Springleaf, West Coast, Pasir Ris, Telok Blangah, Choa Chu Kang, and many more.

Incidentally, in the process of preparing for this trip to Singapore, I sought out high-quality government-published walking tour booklets. (On my last visit, I used and enjoyed various publications by the Singapore Tourism Board and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.) Though I had trouble finding physical copies at the tourist information desk, I found them online: one large booklet briefly covering many neighborhoods in Singapore and many walking tour guides for some of these neighborhoods. Though I only ended up doing part of one walking tour this trip, I'm posting these links here because they're hard to find on the web and may be helpful for other visitors to Singapore.

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