Once, Twice, Three Times
Singapore, © 04.Sep.2002 gM
Photos of Singapore
Introduction to Singapore
Once, Twice, Three Times
Durian-flavoured Shopping Malls
I have visited Singapore now twice. Once, a long time ago on my first journey outside Europe when I did not know much about the world and anything about traveling. I still remember sitting on a verandah of a much too expensive hotel, watching in awe as the monsoon rains fell hard. I tried as many exotic fruit juices as I could, and was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people at hawker centers in Chinatown. I was impressed by how clean the city was, and fascinated by the transparent, acrylic tunnel in the aquarium at Underwater World. With solely European references at my disposal, I was soaking up anything new to me: from unidentifiable food to unfamiliar languages and customs, from heat and humidity to flowers and trees, from Chinatown to Sentosa Island. Singapore felt very different to me, even though my inexperience made me miss out on some of the culturally most interesting parts of the city.

Red Weedy Seadragon and Yellow Leafy Seadragons
Red Weedy Seadragon and Yellow Leafy Seadragons, Underwater World / © gM
The second time, this time, Singapore is as clean as ever, the fruit juices are still excellent, and a visit to Underwater World is highly recommended. The aquarium tunnel has lost some of its original charm, but this is easily made up by amazing, 20-30cm big, yellow Leafy Seadragons and red Weedy Seadragons from Southern Australia: mother nature's mimicry at its best! When I now think back to Singapore, images of its Central Business District, expensive restaurants along Singapore River, the outside of the new Esplanade theaters which bears a strong resemblance to durian fruit, flashy super-sized malls, orderly traffic, and a very well organized and extremely safe subway all appear, but not images of Chinatown, Arab Street, or Little India. Singapore is an extremely user-friendly city. Whether it is signage, pedestrian crossings or overpasses, information booths or explanations, everything seems to be where one would expect it to be. And more so, when we were standing outdoors under a roofed exhibit at Fort Siloso, our bodies longing for some relief from the heat and humidity, we looked up, and there was a switch for the fan right above us! All these impressions paint a very modern Singapore not far removed from North America or Western Europe. People say that Singapore is not Asia. Of course this is not true. Singapore is very much an Asian city. Certainly influenced by what we chose to visit, the infrastructure and technology-related aspects of Singapore overpowered its Asian cultural aspects. I sense that a third visit to Singapore, especially after a prolonged stay in South-East Asia, will accentuate these cultural aspects so that Singapore will once again feel different than just another modern city.

Introduction to Singapore  /  Once, Twice, Three Times  /  Durian-flavoured Shopping Malls