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'Sing' ing in the Rain ! : Singapore not to be missed, even during the wet months.

by Travelin' Tony T (Editor @ Large)

The Lion City Statue (CLICK TO ENLARGE)    Well 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.

 
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t 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.

There 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 dollars.


The 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].....
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