Singapore: present or future?
Singapore is blowing my mind. Having limited time before embarking on this trip, I had not done any research on this city and came with no expectations. Becky, who I had traveled with since the beginning of the
trip, had to part ways with the group in Denpasar, Bali. Her family just moved to Singapore which is one of the main reasons why it was added to our extensive list of travel destinations. However, now she is back in The States doing interviews for physician assistant programs. I’m proud of her, but I do wish she was still with the GYG team. Despite Becky’s absence, Mrs. and Mr. Yen graciously opened their home to us and are showing us the best of Singapore. The view from their apartment overlooks all of Marina Bay with sights including the Sand’s Casino with the famous infinity pool, the Singapore flyer, and the Esplanade.
I quickly realized that many of the other stereotypes people spout about Singapore are not too far from the truth. This city is clean, efficient, and feels as though it is ahead of its time from a environmental and architectural standpoint. Never before have I witnessed such an impressive collection of buildings. Socially, on the other hand, Singapore is far from a Utopian society. As we learned from the LGBT center we worked at, Oogachaga, there is actually a penal code which states that sexual activity between two men is illegal. (side note: watch GYG do the Oogachaga dance with the staff at Oogachaga in Singapore.) While its not enforced per say, self identifying as gay is still a struggle for those in Singapore. There is an overall Big Brother vibe as well because everything feels watched over and regulated. I suppose that also explains why the crime rate is so low. Even chewing gum with sugar is illegal here; For whatever reason sugarless gum is okay.
Singapore is a famous shopping destination, but NOT for the budget traveler. Underground, air-conditioned tunnels link the shops where people from all over the world come and spend big $. It is also a food-lovers dream.
One of my favorite things about Singapore is the weather and air quality. Because owning a car or motorcycle is so incredibly expensive, there is little traffic and air pollution. Consequently the public transit system is great. Outside the temperature is humid, breezy, and warm- a dream come true for me! Being cold 99% of the time in SF (not an exaggeration), I am loving the fact that I am always comfortably warm here and do not need to bring a jacket when I leave the apartment.
Overall, Singapore is great for the GYG team because it is providing us with the chance to catch up on sleep (3 hours a night can only work for so long) and work (we have lots of video content that needs editing). Mrs. Yen, our unofficial tour guide made sure that we saw the major sights and learned about Singaporean culture. With her we took the Duck Tour around Marina Bay, went to a few museums, toured through the world’s largest orchid garden, and went on the Singapore flyer at night. The flyer is the world’s biggest ferris wheel. At 42 stories high it takes over 30 minutes to complete one rotation. Singapore is a very small island with limited resources, so almost everything they need must be imported. They depend on tourism to keep their economy afloat. Consequently Singaporeans kind of obsess over setting records for making their buildings and sight-seeing activities the biggest and the best. Why does Singapore have the world’s largest floating stage? Just because they can.