Arriving in Singapore

On the way in to the city from Changi Airport I strike up a conversation with a taxi driver, who informs me that the population of Singapore is growing very slowly. When I ask him why this is so, he tells me that it’s because people in Singapore, like the Japanese, don’t have sex very often. The conversation is taking an unexpected turn, but I decide to ask the reason for this. The answer is immediate: people are too tired.

There are many reason why stopping over for a few days in Singapore is a good idea, particularly for Australians on the way home from a spell in cold Europe. The food is stunning; the flora, whether seen on the drive from the airport, in the Botanical Gardens or in the quirky Chinese Gardens, is beautiful; the architecture is worth keeping up to date with (the new casino looks like a gigantic Greek letter Pi that has managed to sprout a third leg); a stroll through some of the up-market shopping malls provides any number of signs of the times for those able to decode them; the ability of different races to co-operate while remaining distinct is heartening; and there are always new books to discover in an enormous bookshop on Orchard Rd (which is owned by Japanese; perhaps the kind of people who take a book to bed…) The people are very easy to deal with and the systems work like a charm.

Yet when I look at the faces on the train they often seem tired. Perhaps there has been a human cost in creating the highly successful and prosperous country that Singapore has become.

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