Singapore and Malaysia – 1


I was in Singapore for 12 days, and Malaysia for a quick weekend SCUBA dive trip. Singapore was the most developed and ‘Westernized’ country I visited. The city/island/country’s infrastructure, technology and economy are advanced and stable, though the politics don’t seem to match ‘Western’ vibe I felt in the city-state. Over 40 years of uncontested rule by People’s Action Party, and leader Lee Kuan Yew, have created a benevolent dictatorship that most Singaporeans feel quite content to live in. And it was hard to argue with, given how efficient and successful the country is.

Next to my friend’s school, the Singapore army has a live-firing area of thick jungle. It was extremely disconcerting standing in a quiet, peaceful educational institution and hearing the thrattle of gunfire from inside the green jungle around the college.

One of the popular pastimes in Singapore: karaoke! I went along expecting to sit in a dingy bar with over-loud speakers and half-drunk patrons staring as we sang from a stage. I was surprised, however, to walk into the karaoke venue: a small, comfortable living room-style room with couches and fake plants. Singaporeans take karakoe seriously, but have a lot of fun doing it with friends in a comfortable setting. After a 5 hour marathon, my voice was raw, but my friend was still crooning. The popular songs were a mix of Chinese pop and American pop. The first clip below is an old classic I found and had my turn at the reverb-soaked microphone. The second and third are what most of the evening sounded like (credit to a Chinese pop singer, phonetically spelled Tsung Chio Yen, and Lady Gaga).

Birds of Prey

Physical space in Singapore is at a minimum, and many of the country’s adaptations to the lack of space are quite ingenious. However, they also value their ‘green’ space, and have many areas with parks or centers for natural things. One such place was the Jurong Bird Park. Below is a clip from the ‘King of the Skies’ show, a bird of prey exhibition attended by mainly school children and frazzled adults. Note the plastic carcass in the photo.