Leaving Ko Phi Phi island in Thailand was a bit sentimental for me as I was finally leaving a country which I had really grown to know and love and had met so many great friends along the way. I took a high-speed ferry from the island to the port city of Phuket where I went directly to the airport and waited for my flight to Singapore. I recall spending something like 20 USD for my ticket including taxes for this 2 hour international flight!
I arrived in Singapore very late and tired but made a point of looking around the airport as it has been for many years ranked as one of the top airports in the world. Hopping in a taxi I had two mixed emotions. Firstly I was excited and ever so happy to be talking to my cab driver in English, my mother tongue! It was a feeling of great connectedness and reminded me of home as it was the first country I had been to in over 1 1/2 years where the locals speak my language. On the flip side, the country is incredibly expensive compared to the rest of the region. Scratch that, Singapore is grossly expensive no matter where you are coming from.
Thankfully I was able to save a good amount of money while in the city as I had met a lovely couple while in Borneo Malaysia who had offered to allow me to stay in their guest room when I visited. Both European (from Switzerland and France) and studying at the University of Singapore in a PhD program. They truly made my stay in Singapore special as they took the time out of their evenings to take me out to their favorite spots in the city.
In three days I was able to cover all of the major tourist hot spots! Singapore is famous for its Zoo (with an incredible array of rare animals many of which are free to roam where they please without cages), its laws (spitting, gum chewing and screaming are all illegal) and their relatively harmonious multicultural social fabric (Malaysian, Indian and Chinese). This tiny country is a great cultural destination as it has a thriving Little India, China Town and Muslim Quarter.
Singapore is also a bit backward with its horrific track record with homosexuals (it is still illegal) but things are slowly starting to change. There are apparently a few gay bars in the city but its all a bit hush hush (aka you would not read about DJ events in a newspaper at these nightclubs for example as Muslim lawmakers do not want to contribute to the “corruption of society.”
My visit to Singapore was enjoyable and I would highly suggest anyone visit if not just for a simple 24 hour layover to enjoy their obsession with food (which can be found in their plethora of food stalls across town) as well as a day spent at the Zoo. I also visited the cities Museum and Art Gallery and was happy to learn about this small nations interesting history. Singapore represents the future of South East Asia. Its impeccable cleanliness, huge sky scrapers, top notch restaurants and hotels…it is what Laos and Cambodia can only dream of….and with a significant expat community (think the Dubai of Asia) there are plenty of multinational corporations indulging in the countries successes.