I love the story of Singapore. It is:
- Small. 714.3 square kilometres (275.8 sq mi) or about three times the size of Brooklyn.
- Populous. There are 5.4 million people who live there (2013 census).
- Wealthy. The CIA Factbook says, “Singapore has a highly developed and successful free-market economy.” Corruption is very low.
- Young. Technically founded as a colony in 1819, it gained independence and broke from Malaysia in 1965.
I’ve visited Singapore only once: in April 2009 while working for Flight Display Systems.
I remember the food – especially the seafood. My favorites were curry crab and stingray. I ate stingray twice during my short visit and had vivid dreams afterwards.
Eating seafood in Southeast Asia was a special privilege. I’ve been told to avoid shellfish everywhere in Southeast Asia except for Singapore. Singapore is renown for their clean, safe food.
Other things that I remember from Singapore:
- Excellent English spoken by everyone I encountered.
- Presence of South Indians: in the public announcements (Tamil?) and the plethora of dining options.
- Buildings and stylings from Colonial rule, like the Raffles Hotel.
- Engineering skills as best-in-the-region.
- High quality road construction.
- Reliable, clean, metered taxis. But the tolls were expensive!!
- Lots of urban greenery compared to New York City! Felt so lush.
- Stories about founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew: how smart he was, how much foresight he had.
- Lack of corruption.
I sat next to a Singaporean citizen on a flight recently. She told me some fun facts:
- Singapore is not a dog-friendly country due to Singaporean Muslim community believing that dogs are not clean
- The most famous food is chicken rice, stingray, anything with sambal (Malaysian: chili mixed with dried shrimp), and curry fish head
- Food in NYC: Try the sambal stingray at Nyonya in Little Italy / Chinatown
- Tiny country with no natural resources: no fresh water, oil, farmland, no produce
- Friendly with Indonesia because Indonesia has awesome beaches!
- Common for middle and upper-class families to have maids
- Senior citizens have reduced “international levy” fees ($400 vs $80), so it is easier for older people to have a maid or household help
- “Kopitiam” literally means “coffee shop,” but it has many small restaurants inside (like a food court! I love these!)
- Malaysian cops are easy to bribe. Many people from Singapore go there to race their cars
The End. I like to visit new countries and remember things about them, and in my attempt to write more, I’m posting these notes. I hope to visit Singapore again soon.
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