Travels in Singapore 1999

by Marc H. Mehlman

written 9 August 1999

June 19

Friends and Family,

I love Singapore. It is like Honolulu on steroids. Being only 85 miles north of the equator, it is very hot and humid. In the 90's with very high humidity. Even at night it is hot. When I am outside I am constantly drenched in sweat. I "glisten" like a fountain. Fortunately the city has so many trees, even downtown, that there is lots of shade. It is easy to bake one's brain so that one is dizzy even in air-conditioned buildings. Luckily, just about everything here is air conditioned, including buses and the subway.

People here are just like the Singapore Airlines commercial. They are very nice and very beautiful. The children are so cute and women ... There are Chinese, Malaysian (Moslems), Indians (Asian) and Europeans. They all get along nicely. I checked and there is no affirmative action here. However each culture is still healthy. There are fantastic Hindu temples, Buddhist shrines, Moslem mosques and even two Jewish synagogues (what other types of mosques and synagogues are there besides Moslem and Jewish?). The Indians here have darker skin than most American blacks. Many of their women are gorgeous.

Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore was a great man. The city is one of the safest places in the world. It is also among the cleanest. Despite all types of jokes from crime-ridden USA, this is not a police state. In fact, the only hint of excessive law enforcement was when I saw an 8-year-old boy taken away for 4 lashes for coughing on an elevator (just kidding).

I went to the Indian section of town. The Indians here are from Southern India. They eat with their right hand. Everything - rice, curry, sauces, etc. What a mess! But when in Roma do as the Romans do. I was the only non-Indian in the restaurant and the only one given a fork. I didn't use it.

Because of the high levels of cleanliness here one can eat anything, anywhere. The only dirt I saw was in a non-refrigerated Indian meat market. The food is among the best in the world. It is in the same class as the food in Paris and Las Vegas. Some of it is very spicy, just as I like it. In fact, I have encountered the spiciest food of my life at ordinary food stands here. There are also lots of neat jungle fruits - dragon fruit, jackfruit, sour sops, durians, etc. I love them all. And, of course, there is also "normal" food here too.

Singapore is a wealthy place. The locals don't have as much buying power as the typical American, due to the very strong American dollar. However the quality of life is very high here and there is no sign of poverty. Like Hong Kong, a little over half the population lives in public housing (all but the wealthy). However, public housing is very nice here. The city is more like the commercial parts of Beverly Hills and Brentwood than like Manhattan-like Hong Kong. There are miles and miles of exclusive shopping stores, Rodeo drive class or better. The only two major stores that seem to be missing are REI and Fry's Electronics. There are giant electronic bazaars where you can buy anything electronic for cheap. There is a lot of pirated software for sale. One can buy $10,000 worth of software for $100.

From my perspective, Singapore is very inexpensive, due to the strong American dollar. Everything is much cheaper than in the USA. My hotel room is nice and only $32. Food for a day is about $6. The subway is cheap and will take you anywhere. Everything here is first class. From the many parks, to the subways, this place is as well built and maintained as any place in Germany. The botanical gardens here are the best I have ever seen. They are complete with sculptures, an orchid garden and free-roaming pythons. I spent an evening at the night safari at the zoo. It was simply the best zoo experience in the world, much better than the San Diego World Animal Park (which is pretty good). Even the bathrooms there were world class. They had private toilets in the jungle instead of indoor stalls.

I can go on raving about Singapore for a long time.

In one of the great cities of the world (and one of the nicest),


June 20

Friends and family,

A correction:

Singapore is 77% Chinese, 14% Malays, 7.5% Indian and 1% other.

I went to the Zoo today. It is a San Diego Class zoo (the highest class). In fact, I liked it better than San Diego. Free-roaming monkeys. You can get close to the animals. You can enter an enclosure with the kangaroos. You can enter a large cage with lots of free-roaming snakes. You can have your picture taken with several different types of primates.

Got to go catch my plane.


Copyright 1999 Marc Mehlman
Last revised: 14 August 1999

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