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In the past few months, I have spent quite some time in Indonesia, where trash, chaos and daily annoyances – because things just aren’t going the way the are supposed to – are the norm. Then I headed to Jordan, where I hung out with Bedouins and their camels in a serene desert and visited ancient monuments. After all that, arriving in Singapore felt like stumbling into some kind of surreal futuristic metropolis.
Singapore is an organized island in the chaotic sea that is Southeast Asia and is quite literally, the exception to the rule. I was prepared to wait in line behind the immigration counter for the usual half an hour it seems to take to get into most countries, but was waved through in under a minute and sent on my way with a smile and a mint candy. There are no tuktuk-congested roads, no endless flow of scooters, no traffic jams and no incessant honking. The streets are pristine – littering is punished with a fine of up to 1000$ and even drinking in the subway will cost you 300$ – and the people walking them are dressed and styled to the max, usually not a hair out of place. Everything looks new, shiny and a tad futuristic, sometimes even a bit too perfect. But despite, maybe even because of all that, Singapore manages to integrate a wide variety of Asian cultures into the city.
The amazing hawker stalls, offering an incredible array of dishes from all over Asia, contrast with expensive beers and business men in suits down by the waterfront. The colourful suburbs of Little India or Chinatown are nothing like the glass and metal skyscrapers which dominate the financial district in downtown. There are bustling markets like Bugis, with blinking neon lights, crazy-coloured drinks and Hello Kitty backpacks next to modern malls and high-end stores. Somehow, that wild mix of culture, religion and cuisine goes so well together, neighbourhoods coexist peacefully and all of it is is connected by an efficient public transportation system.
Needless to say, I loved Singapore. After being exhausted from travelling hard and moving around a bit too much during the past weeks, all I wanted to do was hang out, wander a bit, but not rush from place to place in an attempt to see it all. And Singapore seemed to be a great place to do just that. I slowly drifted around some neighbourhoods like Tiong Bahru and Little India, explored the backstreets, wandered through the Gardens by the Bay, ate way too much Hainanese Chicken Rice and of course, took a lot of photos. Enjoy some of my best shots from beautiful, futuristic Singapore: