The “Fine” City, Singapore

Singapore is known as the “fine” city/country because of all of the things you can supposedly be fined for (littering, eating on the subway, etc.).  You may remember an incident involving an 18-year old American citizen that was caned in Singapore in the early 1990’s for vandalism.  Or you may be familiar with the notion that chewing gum in Singapore is illegal.  For all of the hoopla surrounding the supposed police-state, I didn’t notice anything really different than any of the other three Asian Tigers (South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan), well I’ve never been to Taiwan, but the other ones.  I got through immigration checks without having my gum confiscated and there was still miscellaneous trash on the streets.  However, it was infinitely better than the situation in Kuala Lumpur, which I’m guessing is closer in comparison to the garbage situation in India.  But it was nowhere near the manicured traffic islands complete with rose bushes, similar to Monaco, which I had been expecting.  It’s all about expectations I suppose.   Rules or not, they must be doing something right though because their per-capita income is higher than that of the US…

The city-state of Singapore is made up of approximately 74% Chinese, so missing the Chinese New Year (in the year of the dragon, no less) by a couple of days was similar to showing up in Times Square on January 1 (I stayed in Chinatown in KL and was expecting something to be going on, but nothing interesting did).  But alas, there were a few remnants of the festivities.  Meandering through an outdoor market I hear a loud drum beating and of course had to go check it out.  I wander over to the raucous scene to find a chorus of drums and a Chinese lion undulating through the crowd (to be clear, a person in a lion costume).  The lion then lies on the ground for about 5 minutes, but the crowd (all Chinese), stays, so I follow suit.  The lion then stands back up with a tray of peeled oranges; I felt like I was at an elementary school soccer game…  Apparently he was on peeling oranges while on the ground and then presented the offering as a sign of happiness and prosperity in the coming year.  These lion dances are believed to drive away ill-fortune and evil spirits, so now by witnessing this all will go well with my travels (directed at you, Mom). 

The “fish spa” was an interesting experience.  For anyone that knows me and both my hatred of feet and my allergy to seafood this was a big act of bravery for me to do this…  The idea behind the fish “pedicure” is that you stick your feet in a tank of fish and have them bite off the dead skin.  I won’t eat fish and hate having people touch my feet, but for a once-in-a-lifetime thing, I let fish feast on my feet.  I saw it on the Travel Channel Show “Dhani Tackles the Globe”, so I had to try it, even if it was only for 15 minutes.  After cleaning my both feet, I put them in the tank of fish and immediately the little (probably about an inch or two long) buggers came right up and started munching.  It tickled, a lot.  They also had a little tray for your hands, so I could see up close what these things looked like.  Their mouth area looked similar to the snail mouths that you get to clean the sides of fish tanks, kinda creepy to realize they were attacking my skin.  I don’t think they really did what they were advertised to do, and it most likely was just a tourist trap, but oh well, I experienced my first (and probably last) pedicure.

There was an episode of the Amazing Race where the teams had to sell blocks of ice cream wrapped in bread.  I ate one of these literal ice cream sandwiches, not as bad as I was expecting it to taste.

Categories: Asia | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “The “Fine” City, Singapore

  1. erin

    After reading about your dragon episode…i immediately got myself and orge, ate it, and gave darrell my peels (which i realize is a bit backwards). He wasn’t too impressed with my offering of good fortune.

  2. Pam Gruber

    Love the fish pedicure story. How bizarre. Did your feet feel refreshed afterwards? Glad your travels are going well. Good thing you ate the orange!! Have fun!

  3. stacey

    I love pedicures & foot massages and just find fish creepy but even I couldn’t have done the fish thing. I’m so proud of you!

  4. Mindy

    Greetings from Singaporean! if I found your site earlier, I would be happy to show you around here.

    I have been thinking for the longest time (2-3 years maybe?) to quit my job and travel for the next 6 months to Europe and China (if I am up to it). That’s why I found a couple of amazing travel blogs which further fuel my motivation.

    I am happy to find your website, and hope to read more of your travel adventures.

    Do you have any tips for a prospective lone female traveler like myself?


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