I knew Singapore was going to be different when I heard the captain of the airplane come onto the intercom and say the following:
“We are now starting our descent into Singapore. The time is 8:45 am. The weather is 30 degrees Celsius and partly cloudy. Please remember that the mandatory penalty for drug smuggling is death. Thank you for flying Air Asia, enjoy your stay in Singapore.”
Wow! Okay then! I knew they were strict about drugs here, but that’s a completely additional level of crazy. Nothing quite says “Welcome to our country!” like a reminder of the mandatory death sentence should you be caught with drugs.
Things continued to get weird when I got to Chinatown, where my hostel was located. Chinatown is normally a pretty gritty place, right? Well, this Chinatown was spotless, much like the rest of the city. I liked it, it was just so…clean. So unlike everywhere else I’ve been on this trip so far.
When it came time for sightseeing, I decided to check out the Gardens by the Bay, which are massive indoor conservatory spaces and include an actual cloud forest! Pretty cool, huh? Well, I was surprised when tickets cost about $22 (US)! That’s pretty expensive for a botanical garden, even a cool one.
The other must-do here is having a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Singapore Slings (although there was that one night in college…but the less said about that, the better), but they were apparently invented at the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel, so I had to go. The Raffles Hotel is beautiful and colonial feeling, and the Long Bar is atmospheric right down to the peanut shells on the floor. So far, so good. The drink itself was a bit sweet for my tastes, but the taste of whatever alcohol was in there (I was too afraid to check) was completely masked. Also positive. I met a nice couple from the Philippines and we had a fun talk about Manila and what to see and do there. Still going great.
Then I got the bill.
For one glass of water and a Singapore Sling, I paid $40 (US)!!!! That’s almost my entire daily budget. It was a bit of a downer, which is too bad, because I was getting a decent buzz going there.
So I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with this wacky, expensive city quite yet. Good thing I have a few more days!