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Singapore’s four quarters

Coming to Singapore from Vietnam, makes you appreciate what was so wonderful about Vietnam – the simplicity and vibrancy of life.






Don’t get me wrong, Singapore is a breath of fresh air in more ways than one, the easy going street vendors, the wonderful museums, the friendly people, the amazing architecture and the range of cultures, but as everyone knows, there is something missing – it is the soul – it has been carefully wiped out. The streets are clean, but lifeless, the daily bustle is there, but it is strangely inhuman; no longer can we find real people doing real things, but slightly porky manufactured people doing manufactured and controlled things. It is all subtle, but palpable, it is not steamed rice, but fried rice with chopped bits in.


From Little India, to the river, to the Raffles landing - all in a day trip

That said, and aside from the frustrations of not being allowed to throw yourself in front of thousands of oncoming motorbikes, our first day in Singapore was a packed day exploring the National Museum, Fort Canning, Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, the “durian” theatre, and the Padang, before settling in to a traditional Singapore Sling in the Long Bar of the Raffles and making an unholy mess with the monkey nuts.

The Singapore Sling, touristy and expensive, but nice, and the kids had a free dinner of monkey nuts.

Some people were surprised that we would stay in Singapore a whole week – “what are you going to do?”. Well actually there is tons to do, and we could easily have filled 2 or 3 weeks. For a start, you can explore the various cultural ghetto’s called “heritage areas”. These are clearly shaded on a map for any tourist, and are broadly split into India, China and Arabia, with the colonial areas making 4 distinct zones to explore. The first three are interesting mainly for their ability to withstand the rigours of Singapore hygiene standards, the places actually smell asian, they are dirty, the storm covers are broken, the kitchens spill themselves and their contents onto the pavements – giving the areas a humanity that gave them a life.

Chinatown with the clutter cropped out.

If the reality gets a bit much, you area only ever 2 or 3 streets away from an unshaded area with some sign or other prohibiting durians/cycling/spitting/kissing/dogging/chewing gum etc. The other option for some culture, but without the disarray, is to take the MRT to the serene Chinese and Japanese Gardens.

As we were staying on the edge of Little India, dinner was a top notch vegetarian curry, only slightly marred by a shrew running across the table – maybe I was wrong – maybe Singapore does have some slightly frisson to it once you delve under the perfect surface gloss.

Categories: Singapore Tags: , , ,
  1. fatclive
    March 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Fancy going to a place where the authorities stop you cycling through the less salubrious parts of town spitting durian pulp at kissing doggers, Its no wonder you only stayed a week!

    • March 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      I was thinking of contacting Amnesty International.

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