01 August 2013

Singapore at first impression

Singapore was just absolutely lovely. The truth is I never really thought much about this place. I want to see the country somehow, of course, but I wasn't dying to see it. But being there and experiencing the country first hand made all the difference. For one, I never really liked Chinese food, but the variations in culture that Singaporean cuisine offered was delightful. I enjoyed every local dish I had there.

By the first night, I had already fallen in love with the city. I remember running back and forth the waterfront promenade, taking pictures, taking it all in—the city, the people, the bustle, the excitement of being yet again in a foreign country. Daylight was fading, and the city lights were one by one coming alive like a fleet of fireflies. To accompany the wonder unraveling in front of me, a band suddenly starts playing beautiful ambient music from the amphitheater by the bay—think Explosions in the Sky—and it was breathtaking. It was like the city was openly luring everyone at that deck, including me, and I can't say for all the others, but it got me. I had fallen for the trap.

The thing about Singapore is that they don't have an abundance of natural resources--opposite of here in the Philippines--and so everything is man-made. But what this country lacks in natural resources, they make up for in skill. Singapore is a hard-working country.  Not only literally (they encourage everyone, counting the senior citizens, to work so long as they still can), but you can also see it in the streets, the people, and yes, their city skyline. And it is truly impressive.

The streets are filled with people who walk like they're always in a hurry. The escalators, in an attempt to keep up with the fast-paced people, run twice the speed as they do in  my home country. And there are no beggars on the streets, which says a lot about the country's economy—everyone is working.

In the trains, you can get a pretty good picture of the people--that's what I like most about riding trains in other countries; it's great for people-watching. In trains, people get a moment's breather as they wait to arrive to their destination, and it's nice to see how they spend their idle time. Plus, I think public transportation really brings out people's true manners: do they form a peaceful queue waiting for the train to arrive? Do they shove each other at the train doors in fear of being left behind? Do they give up their seats for people who need it more? As I have observed, people in Singapore wait in lines for the train. And if ever the train is a bit full (it does happen on rush hours), people don't shove each other in desperate attempt to hop in with the already full train; they simply wait for the next one. And they know how to give up their seats for those who need it more (I'm proud to say it is also the same in Manila, though I can't say the same for the other two things I mentioned). Contrary to what I hear about Chinese people—the older ones can be quite grumpy and a bit hostile—I actually found Singaporeans quite friendly. During my stay there, I bumped into a lot of people since my eyes were always on my viewfinder more than where I was walking, and my sincere sorry's were always returned with a nod of acknowledgement, a smile, and sometimes a sorry back, too. I am not used to that; from where I'm from, you say sorry and most of the time people don't even notice they bumped into you in the first place. They just walk on. But I guess I prefer that over the ones who glare down on you.

As for the city skyline, I guess there's no need to emphasize on what everyone knows. From Changi Airport which is recognized as one of the world's best airports, to Marina Bay Sands, to their theaters and even mere shopping malls, Singapore's fine architecture shines through. It's like everything was made to impress, and impressive it is.

To tell you the truth, I liked Singapore so much that I'm thinking about moving there. I want to experience living independently anyway, and I think Singapore is a good place to start. She isn't named CNN Travel's best city in the world for nothing, after all. The streets are absolutely safe. Everything is organized and everywhere is clean. Being in such a place can be so liberating, and I want that. I think that would be a good change.

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