6 Jan 2013

Singapore reflections

I first visited Singapore in 1974.It was a business trip and I remember it as being very exciting.The city/state was just kicking off its amazing ascent to economic stardom.It still had more than a whiff of the British colonial era.There were still thousands of old buildings and rickshaws and even coolies in conical hats .And tubby Englishmen were still running the major companies sweating in their linen suits and starched white shirts  and ties as they moved between the Club and the office in the heat of the day. Morris Oxfords and Austin Cambridges were still the taxis although Datsuns and Toyotas were just getting a foot in the door.The city was a duty free shopping paradise. The airport was a very crowded terminal on a rather dilapidated military airfield.

Since then I have visited Singapore many times - usually in transit -and it was the same three weeks ago when we passed through and stayed for two nights en route to Myanmar.In the intervening 38 years so much as changed .Singapore is today an economic powerhouse punching well above its tiny weight .The airport is superb and it keeps growing. Without a doubt it is the best airport in the world.Singapore Airlines is one of the best airlines in the world .Singapore is very prosperous,clean,ordered and very law abiding-an Asian Switzerland but without the mountains,chocolate or the yoddling.But it is no longer cheap shopping despite the very strong aussie dollar.Indeed the Singapore duty free price equals Australian retail plus 20% for many items.No wonder the airport shops are empty.Times have changed.

Singapore has without a doubt, to use an Australian expression,"done good" but at the risk of offending my Singapore friends I cannot help thinking that it needs some Tabasco in the pot .A bit more "brio".Life wasn't meant to be this ordered and controlled.If you are not convinced try reading"The Straits Times" - surely a leading contender for the title of world's most boring newspaper.I suspect that if you publicly yoddled in Singapore you would get 6 months in jail.What Singapore needs is a good riot .I am sure that riot experts like the Greeks would be only too pleased to help them organise one .
Anyway photo of the impressive financial district taken from my hotel balcony in the Swissotel on Stamford on the Leica X1 1/30th at f2.8 on ISO1600 .

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