Singapore (Singapore), 24.08.2013
The flight from Bombay to Singapore was short, and after a few hours sleep I arrived at Changi Airport. Tired from the flight, I found the way to a lounge where I took a shower, had breakfast and prepared my day in the city.
A train took me into town. The airport had been a clean oasis of calm and order, the city outside was more of the same. After months on the road in rather chaotic countries I was waiting for the action to start any minute. But it didn’t. Singapore was different from every place I had seen in Asia before. Helena had been here before and warned me. First of all it was cooler, not just because of the aircon everywhere but also because of the breeze that kept blowing. It was Saturday and during the morning there were very few people around, mostly tourists. I got off close to the famous Raffles hotel and went to see it. Among the many skyscrapers and shopping malls around here it seemed like a relic of times long gone by. Walking towards the city center I strolled through modern high rises, trying to find the old part of town. Well, the oldest bit I found was Chinatown, and for a European it felt terribly new and clean and organised! A few streets of two or three story buildings, nicely renovated. A market hall with plenty of open shops and food stands. A glitzy temple with a tiled roof. And plenty of roads with almost no people and cars on them. A cold beer at a corner cafe cooled me down.
The rest of the afternoon I spent at a barbecue of a friend from Berlin I hadn’t seen for a decade. Maren was moving to Canada and some friends were coming to say goodbye. Considering that she had texted me on Facebook only in the morning when I arrived, this was sort of a surprise meetup! It was a pleasure seeing a familiar face out here in Asia, after Vineet in Bombay the day before. And here I found myself in an expat surrounding in this strangely clean and organised place. It felt really crazy, somewhat unreal.
Later in the evening a cab took me the airport again. The driver asked all kinds of questions while he drove orderly on the clean and organised streets at not too high speed. I couldn’t get rid of the Switzerland-feeling the entire day. A spicy crab dinner closed my day in Singapore, before I boarded the plane for Australia.