Our journey down the Malaysian peninsula finishes with a few days in Singapore – everything is just that little bit better; shopping malls are spotless, public transport runs like clockwork, even the quality of the crumpet exceeds that of its Malaysian neighbour.
We arrive on Grand Prix day. The chaos and crowds I was expecting are nowhere to be seen. These Singaporeans are an organised bunch. We manage to catch some glimpses of the race.
It’s changed a bit since my last visit (in 2007), the Marina Bay Sands has appeared on the skyline. An integrated resort based around a casino, and includes a shopping mall, theatre, hotel and museum.
Gambling and shopping’s not my bag, so we head for the Art Science Museum with its contemporary “lotus flower” design. I’m impressed and the “50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic” exhibition was a good way to spend $30.
Singapore recently legalised gambling and there are 2 “integrated resorts” in the country – the other is on Sentosa Island. We go there too, it’s one big theme park and all a bit fake for my liking – manmade waterfalls, caves and beaches.
We visit some art galleries and I notice a cultural side that I missed first time round – the Gajah Gallery was a highlight. I stumble across the Singapore Kindness Movement, maybe all this capitalism does have a human face.
After my last visit, I rather lazily went along with stereotype that Singapore lacks culture and the people are vacuous shopaholics… I may have been a bit hasty.
Ps. They’re not quite there yet. I notice the closing ceremony for the Singapore Grand Prix featured Justin Bieber. The irony wasn’t lost on me (singer poor).