Thursday, January 17, 2013

Singapore: More than food

There is more to do in Singapore than just gorge on yummy food at hawker markets, and we did do a few of those things too. We checked out the new botanical gardens, somehow snagging free tickets from some random guy who just offered them to us.

The cloud forest.
We also checked out the brand new Aquarium on Sentosa Island. Correction. We actually went to two aquariums on Sentosa Island after some massive confusion and total frustration. One is old and crappy, but does have the redeeming quality of a seal and dolphin show (which Simon loved). In the end Simon and I did make it to the brand new one, which boasts the world's largest aquarium with the largest viewing glass. It was beautiful and Simon loved running from window to window to check out the fish. He was also very helpful in pointing out fish to all other visitors, in case they somehow couldn't spot any of the thousands of fish swimming about. (Sentosa Island, by the way, is a resort island that is kind of like my hell on earth, but popular with families that are more fun than Martin and I.)

Enjoying the seals at Aquarium #1.
The new one!
We also learned some fascinating facts about Singapore, the island nation that boasts the highest income per capita and has virtually no crime.

  • Spitting and chewing gum are both illegal in Singapore.
  • The tax on buying a car is nearly 100% and you cannot buy a car older than 10 years.
  • You need a separate license to purchase a car. This license costs S$100,000.
  • Taxis drivers rent their cars and are responsible for any damage while driving. Therefore when it's raining, it can be very tough to find a taxi.
  • They really do use corporal punishment. Jail sentences can be doled out with a certain number of canings. However, you can only receive 5 at a time and cannot get any more for 6 months due to health risks! We behaved.
After 2 months traveling in some pretty cheap countries, we definitely felt the sticker shock of Singapore. Meals at hawker markets were reasonably priced, but somehow things added up quickly. Cab rides and entrance fees, alcohol and desserts were far above what we were used to paying. Western prices in this SEA city for sure.

The verdict? The perfect place to drop by and visit an old friend. It is so helpful to have a "local" with you to help navigate hawker centers and order the right foods. The options are overwhelming, and the possibility of going so wrong is right next to a great find. Some of the other highlights of Singapore, especially for a family, are pricy and simply not the Oppenwig style.


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