Posted by: John McGerr | December 30, 2008

Singapore trip


pict0006New Years Day 2003 – heading off to Singapore. About twelve hours by plane,  I kept thinking of articles I had read on the perils of long distance flight. Thankfully there were no complications though the seats were a bit cramped(I’m a big guy) but we got there, happy to see ground. Two of our group were staying at a hotel, the rest of us at my sister’s apartment. On our way to my sister’s place it began to pour rain. Unlike Irish weather though the rain was warm. My sister(Elaine) lived in a place called Toa Payoh(pronounced toe-pie-oh).  The apartment was quite spacious, beds were mattresses on a raised platform, the kitchen was long and narrow like a hallway with the shower and toilet as small alcoves off this. She lived on the third floor of a building that was part of a complex of similar buildings. The ground floors of many of these contained small shops or restaraunts. For your first evening, we chose to go into the city for a meal. To get there we had to walk towards the nearest MRT station (MRT being Singapore’s underground or subway system). The station was located in a shopping centre with a large open area. In the open area were stalls selling books, CD’s, VCD(video CD’s are popular in Singapore), software and in one corner, people showing others how to use a computer. Our destination was Boat Quay, a long row of restaurants, clubs and bars with people outside trying to entice you in. We ended up eating outside by the river, not something you would choose to do voluntarily in Ireland on a January night. On our way back to Elaine’s we passed by the same open area once more and got a real feel for just how different from home Singapore really was. The stalls were still there, covered over but there were no signs of security or alarms, no fences, nothing to prevent theft, yet the stuff was untouched. We saw evidence of this all over Singapore. Their laws may be draconian and I’m sure there are crimes and criminals, but the overall feeling you got was that this was a really safe place to be.

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