Travelin' Tony T (Editor @ Large)
its been ten days now, more or less, and I'm starting to get
a feel for this place. They call it many things, The Lion
City, Garden City, Busiest Port in the World. The most descriptive
adjective I can think of is unique. Although you can make
a case that most places in the world bear their own uniqueness,
Singapore truly is like no place on Earth. Calling it Asian
is true geographically, but the culture is a vast blend of
diversity. The population is primarily of Chinese decent,
but there are plenty of Indian's (South Asians is the latest
western term !); Malay people make up a significant portion
of the population, and that's due to the Island Republic's
location in the middle of the much larger country of Malaysia,
which it was a part of until the mid sixties.
is this location that breeds uniqueness. The country's port
benefits immensely from being so central in the middle of the
World. Right on the Equator and between Asia and Australasia.
It doesn't hurt that the harbor is huge and the laws are geared
toward trade and a strong economy. Though much has been made
of Singapore's strict laws on certain things. (one much publicized
caning of a Westerner and you're labeled for life !), the city
state is quite accommodating to business and tourism. Certain
things are dealt with strongly here, which keeps the city safe,
clean and almost drug free (Death to all drug traffickers reads
the harsh warning on Singapore's immigration cards), but low
income tax and virtually no unemployment are strong indicators
of the country's wealth. Thanks in no small part to the huge
revenue generated from the aforementioned port.
is also a strong community of ex-pat westerners, from all parts
of Europe as well as North America. Lured by the growth industries
like IT and banking, those professionals who immigrate here
from the west are pleasantly surprised by the low taxation rates
and high salaries. For many, it's the reason they end up making
Singapore their permanent home. With the higher incomes do eventually
come the pricier luxury items. Compared to most major cities,
alcohol, tobacco and automobiles are up to twice the price.
As a Canadian, paying $11.00 CDN for a pint of beer is a hefty
sum. You can buy one for 3-4 bucks in much of my country. In
comparison, eating out is relatively inexpensive, especially
at the smaller local restaurants in the less touristy parts
of town. Busy take out stalls, called "hawker stands" pop up
throughout the area. They are mostly concentrated in open air
"food courts" that cater to a large worker population. Little
India and Chinatown boast loads of reasonably priced eateries.
For those that want a few brew with a meal, the best value are
some of the lunch/brunch specials available that include a few
pints of beer with a hearty repast, for around $18-20 Singapore
after hours scene here is as varied and vibrant as any major
city in the world. Singapore's reputation for strictness does
not stop the thousands of club goers from dancing the night
away to virtually any form of music. Some of these nightspots
are among the globe's most renown. Most were closed back in
the 70s as the government cracked down on a growing drug problem.
These days, business is booming as hard as a set of bass bins.
Slide in to Singapore after dark for a huge variety of club
life. The cover charge will sting the wallet, but most include
a drink. One thing that is slightly different is minimum ages
for certain bars, some of whom want to attract a bit of an
older crowd, who don't necessarily want teens in the mix.
Since the 25-35 set is large and financially fat, this market
is a big one for the hospitality industry. [MORE].....