Greetings everyone from the other side of the world. It’s 20 hours in an airplane to get here. Seems like a long time to sit until I think of the visitors of old whose journeys took months in a creaky ship. Traveling in coach doesn’t seem so bad after all.
I’m here shooting a job for a client. Ah… the joys of being a world traveling photographer. Singapore isn’t much of a tourist destination so I really didn’t know what to expect. It’s sort of like south east asia’s version of Orange County. Very clean and conservative. People obey the laws here - although as one sign reminded me: low crime is not the same as no crime.
Singapore seems to love these big brother-esque sorts of signs. Construction sites specialize in signs about safety and such - which sounds great until you see herds of Bangladeshi being carted around like cattle. But no one seems to really care as long as the money keeps flowing in. And making money is what Singapore is really all about.
One local told me about Singapore that it’s best not to scratch beneath the surface since you’re not likely to find anything there. Although it’s a couple of hundred years old, it has the feeling of being born yesterday. No one has a past. Everything is new. Make money today and spend it lavishly.
All that said, the waterfront is stunning. I took a tour during the day then returned at night for photos. Well worth the return visit. There is something to be said for spending money in the right places. The amazing, boat like Marina Bay Sands casino is nothing short of stunning. As is the helix bridge - a stainless steal masterpiece that mimics the double helix of the DNA molecule. Can we have one in San Diego, please?
Singapore is all about getting shit done. “Let’s build a bunch of really cool stuff and the tourists will start beating a path to our doors” is the attitude. The Chinese are showing up, don’t know if the rest of the world will.
Taxes in Singapore are high. Very high. I went shopping along Orchard Lane - which isn’t anything as quaint as the name would hint. It’s a mighty boulevard it thousands of pricey stores and brand names like Prada, Gucci, Zegna, Apple and for all you fans of Jared, there’s even a Subway. The prices seemed high - for example that $250 Hugo Boss hat seemed steep even for Hugo Boss. But I locked away my wallet once I saw a shirt that I paid $100 for in the US selling for over $200. Still, that $5,000 Gucci jacket looked dazzling on me.
Not everything in Singapore is sky high. I got a custom suit coat made for $250. I picked out an Italian fabric much like that Zegna coat that I’ve been salivating over. Saved $2,000 there. I wanted to buy a three dollar watch, but the ones I saw were just a little too girlie. For all of you getting souvenirs from me, I can assure you, I did not get them for ten bucks for three.
By the way, that lotus-like structure that collects rain water into a fountain (not that such ecologically high minded planning means much in a rain forest), it’s a science museum. Don’t your wish your local museum looked like that? (The base is in the photo below.)
Once I got past the waterfront, there wasn’t a heck of lot else to look at. Yes, there was Little India. Sort of like what India would look like in a Disney theme park: All of the color and dressed up characters, but none of the filth and grime. There was also Chinatown - three blocks of crammed in little shops that end in a square occupied by old Chinese men playing some form of checkers on steroids.
I can’t say that I’m a big fan of cruises, though I’ve never been on one. But Singapore is one such country (it’s the last of the great city-states) that hitting as part of cruise is probably just about right. Tick off the points of interest and you’ve still got plenty of time for dinner with the captain.
Next stop Cambodia!