Sunday, February 5, 2012


It’s a small island, large city and a nation state. An exotic mix of old and new, it’s a financial, manufacturing and world trade hub. A highly visible (and audible) state of the art military protects its shores.  Its per capita income level is the envy of most other SE Asian countries, and, so unlike most of SE Asia, it is clean, tidy, efficient, and most everything works.  It even has a thriving contemporary artistic and theatrical scene!

Perhaps not entirely without issues, for instance Singapore, like Australia, has a rapidly aging population.  It has a large and some would say, exploited, guest worker population, some remaining social and political oppression (though I understand its a lot more relaxed than it was), a flagging industrial and manufacturing base and, like most of SE Asia, a very skewed distribution of wealth.
 Approaching Singapore; crap visibility, almost constant squalls, thunder and lightening and ships thicker’n grandma’s gravy.  Singapore lies across the doldrums – equatorial belts of little wind (except during storms) and high electrical storm activity.

The new casino, the one I understand that is causing havoc to Australia’s international casino market share.  It certainly has wow factor!!

The financial district:  As you’ll appreciate, we hung out there a lot!
Architecture: old and new.

 Singapore really is a shopper’s paradise – even for Gary!  This is the ‘hardware’ district, a fascinating mélange of small Chinese merchants – many highly specialised, ie: pipe and tube fitting retailers, big ship pump shops, electric motor rebuilders, vendors of assorted aluminium extrusions; bronze, stainless and aluminium billets cut to size; machinery control systems – whatever you want it is likely there somewhere!

Wanna buy a Buddha?

Mojombo never actually made it in to Singapore – she slid right past, going from Indonesia into Malaysian waters.  However we visited Singapore by bus from Malaysia on several different occasions as day visitors, crossing Johor Strait over a big impressive bridge, accompanied by tens of thousands of Malaysian day workers traveling mainly by bus, but also by car and motorbike.

Each morning on the Malaysian side of the bridge each bus passenger disembarks to clear customs and immigration out of Malaysia, then embarks for the ‘no mans land’ bridge crossing and then disembarks to clear customs and immigration into Singapore before a final embarkation for the remainder of the bus trip to the nearby commuter hub.  And each evening each bus commuter does the process in reverse.

Lots of Indonesians do a daily boat commute across the Singapore Strait as well.

As you can imagine, processing that many day visitors the customs and immigration infrastructure and procedures have evolved into slick, well oiled operations – as has the mass rapid transport system that underpins this important component of the tiny nation’s function.

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