Flying into Singapore was the way to go (at least I think so because that’s what I did). Passing over little islands, bright blue sea, and a bay full of barges, the flight into the Changi Airport was unlike any other. The moment I stepped into the airport I was rushed with a feeling that Singapore was much different than the rest of Southeast Asia. The customs agent smiled at every single traveler as she glanced from the passport to their faces, which is a bit odd because most customs agents blankly stare at your face as if you weren’t a real person, and the airport was the cleanest I have seen. For the first time, I experienced the art of disinfecting a toilet seat before I used it, something I now firmly believe every airport should have.
To meet my next couchsurfing host, I had to jump on the MRT towards Joo Koon to the Jurong East station. This gave me the chance to get a quick look at Singapore as it whizzed by. The houses and streets were nothing like Thailand or Malaysia. There didn’t seem to be any slums, run-down houses, or piles of trash on the streets. No sign of poverty anywhere. The buildings looked sharp and new and no sign of mold on the housing complexes.
On the train, I experienced the same diversity that I had encountered in Malaysia: Chinese, Caucasians, Indians, and I’m guessing some Malays were thrown in there as well (I never took the time to observe the distinct characteristics of a Malaysian because I was surrounded by Chinese my entire trip in the country) and wearing my fisherman’s pants, t-shirt and sweatshirt (yes, I know its extremely hot in Singapore, I was just too lazy to take it off after the freezing cold plane ride), I seemed to be a bit underdressed.
After settling in a little bit at my host’s, we set out to dinner in Orchard Street area, the shopping Mecca of Singapore. I soon discovered that shopping is one of the main staples of life in Singapore and the malls were modern and very appealing (also a dangerous area for me).
Walking along the streets, I noticed that traffic wasn’t as crazy as I was used to. Driver’s were actually following the rules, staying on their side of the street and stopping for red lights, and I didn’t get the sense of chaos that resounded from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. It just seemed orderly here.
Singapore is a small island with a lot of people. Everything is built up, up and up and extremely compact. Unless you are very rich, you do not own a house, which was a concept that was brand new to me. I’ve lived in houses all my life ranging from big to small and I could not imagine having to take an elevator up to the 9th floor growing up.
I really like the modern feel of Singapore. Its a little different and new, but that’s what traveling is all about, seeing what’s mundane to the natives in a whole new light.