I’ve been in Singapore for over a month and I thought I’d share some comments on this incredible city. Please note that I didn’t have the time to get ready for this experience seeing as I only had a week to get everything up and running with lots to do before leaving Italy. So I will post some titbits as I come across them.
As soon as you land, you notice there’s something different. There isn’t that frenzy in the air as in Hong Kong or any European airport. Everything seems to be under control. You get on an escalator and go to the bottom floor where there is the customs declaration point. I was given the landing card as I got off the plane so I didn’t have enough time to fill it in. But I turned round and noticed that on the side of this huge room there were coffee-bar tables… No, I was mistaken. Those weren’t coffee-bars. Those were the areas where passengers could sit and comfortably fill in their landing cards. As if they were in their sitting room. A touch of class, right?
Customs declaration was straightfoward and so was picking up my case, but before leaving the airport I thought I would change some money. Done within a couple of minutes and with no commission, too! The girl at the counter asked me if I wanted to buy a sim card for my mobile but I declined. I wasn’t really in the right mood for that and wanted another carrier in any case.
The funny part came when I had to call a taxi. There was a taxi line – nothing wrong with that – and when the first taxi approached I immediately asked the driver how much it would cost me to go to Outram. I had been to China and Hong Kong and asking how much the trip was going to be was one of the first things I learnt from my past experiences, because taxi drivers had this knack of trying to make you pay more and taking detours. But I was mistaken: the guy looked at me with surprise and quickly pointed out taxis in Singapore charge by the meter. The government decided it and he also showed me they couldn’t tamper with the meter otherwise they would be caught and fired.
I was shocked! How was that possible? The driver spent the following ten minutes explaining to me how the government regulated several aspects in Singapore and implementation was very strict. There was no way of breaking the law.
I was too tired to follow his suggestions during the trip to the hotel which took us 30 minutes and only cost me 27 S$ (13-14 euros), but he did give me some insight on this city which features quite a unique blend of cultures.
Oopps! I almost forgot. I tried to give him a tip but he refused it. Apparently, tipping isn’t allowed in Singapore. Shocking, hey?