Can you imagine a place with pristine clean streets and not a spot of litter in sight? A place where everything seems to work punctually with no hassles or delays? Where everybody exudes friendliness and speaks English with a sing-song tone? Where crime or the notion of it seems foreign and remote?
Well, imagine no more, because it exists in South East Asia. With the second strongest passport in the world, Singapore has a lot to be proud of. In a short time this country came from relative obscurity to be one of the economic success stories of modern times.
With a population of about 6 million people, Singapore is a prosperous nation where the cultures of Malays, Indians and Chinese live together in harmony and blend to create the South East Asian version of the rainbow nation.
As a child I had been often told about this mythical place. Where the laws were so strict that even chewing gum on the street would result in a fine.
Far from the fascist-like rule I envisioned, I found a country where most people seemed to be living their best lives with barely an authority figure in sight. In fact, apart from my brief interaction with the law in immigration, I didn’t see any police presence during my stay.
This would be my second visit to the country that created its tourist scene and national identity from scratch.
The first time I visited I was left with such a strong impression of the place that I fully saw it as a destination where I would want to settle long-term. The appeal is definitely there. Especially when everyone seems to be incredibly prosperous. I have never seen so many exotic sports cars zipping down the street. I have also never seen a people that have so much restraint that they will actually wait at a traffic light until it says that it is safe for them to cross even if there are no cars coming.
By pure chance I had the opportunity to meet and befriend a local musician, who shed plenty of light on the country and the problems they had. I found it interesting to see just how much the government actually meddled in the lives of their citizens and shaped many aspects of it.
The people themselves, for the most part, seemed fine with it. I never saw a grumpy face in all my time there. The second visit was none the different.
I stood in awe of the architectural marvels and just how much the country had achieved with sound leadership and governance. It made me hopeful for the future of South Africa that is just as much of a cultural melting pot.
The one thing I can say about Singapore is it’s incredibly expensive. With so many countries in the near vicinity with rich resources and the like I don’t understand why it’s so expensive.
I guess that it’s their way of keeping the riff-raff out.
Every system has flaws. Less than ideal conditions are often where creative progress and innovation is forged. Living in such a nanny state, where would these innovations come from in a place that doesn’t seem to have any problems on the surface?
I love Singapore, but sometimes a country just needs a little bit of dirt to add that extra something special.