Singapore is overhyped and underwhelming

by Samantha Bacchus McLeod

I know I was supposed to love Singapore, but truth be told I was not as wowed as I so wanted to be…

In Singapore, every place you look at seems to be camera ready. The restaurants are clinical-hygienic and filled with people eating but not bustling…not noisy nor vibrant. The service was always service but not overly friendly, and the food ok, but not great.

Do not expect loud and proud vendors selling their wares, because even hawkers’ stalls and sidewalk tent sales are subdued and organized to co-exist quietly within a confined area.

The spaces are well-aired. The prices are comparable to the Canadian dollar and economy, but still feels really expensive.

The streets are spotless, alleyways washed daily, garbage hidden, and smoking is prohibited pretty much everywhere. The people make eye contact only when need be.

Singapore is not unlike a smooth-running machine, the guards, police people and officials are well-oiled cogs in the authoritative wheel of the Fines Capital of Singapore.

The place felt like a concrete jungle. The heat was unbearable. The hotel rooms were so small one felt claustrophobic just stepping into the doorway. The hotel costs were very high and it was a high-end place, but oh my was it ever tiny .

The buses run smoothly as long as you know the schedules and routes of course. Taxi drivers tell you to get out if the ride is too short. I understand why the taxi drivers are choosy…when your allotted time on the road is controlled to the second hand, you need to make as many long drops as possible.

Food looks great on delivery and fails miserably in one taste-bite. Nothing grows in Singapore, they import every single thing – some from Malaysia – and others from who knows where.

The green spaces are soldier-like parks where even nature is beaten into submission.

I am not a fan of Singapore. Really. Singapore is a facade of a perfect society, beneath the thin veneer the people seems to be high-stressed and discontented. There was an air of buried-deep rebellion. On the faces of the people I saw resignation, grudging acceptance, and yet I sensed an intense rebellious spirit simmering beneath the quiet and passive facades.

They reminded me of the story of the Irish people and dancing – many Irish cultural traditions were banned by the English authorities during the 400-year period known as the Penal Days.

Despite this ban on cultural traditions in Ireland, Irish dancing continued behind closed doors. When dancing and parties were outlawed, the people of Ireland would gather to “pray”, they would dance the nights away at the open windows – legs dancing and jigging in abandon while the upper body remained immobile at the window.

Come on Singaporeans, dance away. They may take away your citizen rights in all kinds of ways. They may take away your right to be average in school, or your right to speak your mind about politics, but they can never take away that thing, that little blazing light that refuses to go dark inside…the human spirit.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia commons.

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