I have heard so many things about Singapore - the law-abiding citizens, the hefty fines, and its cleanliness. True enough, Singapore has lived with its reputation of being the garden city as the city-state's filled with trees and other flora along the sidewalks, major thoroughfares, and even inside their airport! Although, it was not enough to just listen to my friend's testimonials about the city-state. I have yet to discover and all those things right before my eyes!
I was glad that my trip to Singapore wasn't called off. Aside from the fact that it's my first time to visit this country (well, not anymore!), the Singapore Airshow 2014 was the highlight of this trip, and that made my second out-of-the-country trip memorable.
We left Manila at around 5:35 in the morning, and the flight time was approximately three hours and thirty minutes. Good thing, Philippine Airlines offers a complete breakfast meal in all of their international flights. That didn't make me hungry for the rest of the flight. While we were vectored by the Singapore Approach to the final approach fix, I noticed that from the air, Singapore looks like Manila, surrounded by reclaimed lands but only a million times cleaner. The moment we got inside the airport terminal, I felt completely different. Changi International Airport was not just an airport - it's a first class mall (well, if there's an adjective higher than 'first class', then that's the appropriate description for Changi Airport)! No kidding!
|Arrival Hall of Singapore Changi International Airport|
After the immigration check, we found this money exchange booth near the airport's lobby and had our US Dollars exchanged to Singaporean Dollars. While the lady counted my money, she asked me if I wanted to buy their local sim card (SingTel). Our conversation went like this:
Lady Lah: (she spoke with a heavy Singlish accent) Ju wan chu bay-h loh-ca sim cahd foh S$50 lah? (I haven't decided whether to buy a sim or not yet she had already held one bill of S$50.)
Me: (Maryosep, ang mahal naman, $50?!) Do you have a cheaper sim card that offers the same mobile internet service?
Lady Lah: No, no, no! $50 lah! Comes wid 5GB internet foh seven des.. chukchakchungchingkimichinglong-LAH chungchangchingchingkwaylabuchiki-LAH
Me: (Maryosep junior, ano raw?!) Alright, fine. I'll buy it.
The difference between Singapore and Manila became apparent the moment our cab driver made his way to the main thoroughfare towards the downtown area. After settling our things, we explored a bit of Singapore's Chinatown. You won't see any beggars, informal settlers, or stray animals lurking and begging for food. And now, I began to feel uncomfortable because (1) how can a city be free of even a single piece of paper or candy wrapper with no street sweepers; and (2) is it really possible to have a country as clean and organized as this?
|MRT Station (Chinatown)|
Singapore is the complete antithesis of Manila. It is everyone's ideal city and this current state can be easily achieved IF and only IF people work diligently, and follow the rules and regulations. Here, everything works. The people walk so fast and they don't mingle around. They have a purpose. Whenever you're in an escalator or walkalator, they always stand on the left side to give way to the people who are in a hurry, who will be passing on the right side. There's no question as to why this country emerged as one of the richest in Southeast Asia.
It was until that particular moment when I saw three cigarette butts littered on a street somewhere in Chinatown. It was such a sight to see! I have to slap myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. And yes, three to five cigarette butts on a Singaporean street. That was highly unusual. As the cliche goes, nobody's perfect. Despite that, Singapore became a refuge to those people who were weary of battling the third world's harsh elements. Here, the air is cleaner, and the traffic is not terrible, and crime rate's lower compared to other Asian cities.
Life is actually here in Singapore, but it comes with a price.
The Singapore Diaries
First World Impression
The Singapore Airshow 2014 Experience
The Singaporean Nightlife