There are several reasons to go to Singapore. The main one?
The second? If you ask Singaporeans they will probably answer “Business…as always”
Others will say because of gambling and amazing selection of food.
However I believe this city is worth visiting because it is a very unique living experiment.
When I arrived from Chennai, India, immediately I felt I was like an elephant in a crystal shop.
Singapore is definitely the city of the one thousands Taboos, contradictions and extreme materialism.
One of my favorite travel writers, Tiziano Terzani, lived in Singapore many years of his life before and after the dictatorship of Lee Kuan Yen that morphed the personality of this city/country/island forever.
Coming back to Singapore Terzani writes: “…air conditioning seems to be the only air that Singapore could breath…” (…sorry for my poor translation but I did not find his book in any of the few bookstores in the city).
Officially Singapore is a democracy…however still today prohibitions, obligations and many absurd rules are imposed to citizens and tourists.
– As it is considered pornographic, you cannot walk around your home nude (unless you close all your windows I guess).
– The sale of gums is prohibited (well… I’m not a fan of chewing gums).
– It is illegal hugging in public without permission, they can give you a fine for this.
– If you’re agnostic or atheist you cannot state any adverse comments at religion because in Singapore you can be cited for sedition.
– It is considered an offense to enter the country with cigarettes, they are in fact highly taxed like alcohol.
– Homosexuals are not allowed to live in the country.
– Death penalty for drug offence (and police can even force both residents and not residents to submit to random drug tests).
– It is illegal to sleep in public places.
– Pornography is illegal.
– If you are founded littering three times you will have to clean the streets on Sundays with a sign on saying, “I am a litterer” (I actually agree with this one).
– There is a mandatory caning policy for vandalism offenses, especially graffiti. This applies to writing on public property as well as hanging banners, flags, pamphlets etc..
– You will be fined if you drink (even water) or eat food in Metro or other public transportation means.
– You can also be punished for spitting, jaywalking and fined if you forget to flush the toilet!
…and the most important:
– Singapore does not allow any demonstrations or protests even if peaceful…for that you need a special permit that it is hard to get.
Now I’m not sure if all those rules are enforced like it was in the past (they had and may still have a secret police) but the result of this is that Singapore seems to be one of the places in the world where brainwashing is really effective.
It looks like Singaporeans will do anything that is demanded by their rulers in a robot fashion.
P.S: Prostitution in Singapore is legal, but various prostitution-related activities are not. This includes public solicitation.
I met a group of young guys from Sri Lanka while I was taking some photos of people sleeping (one of my favorite targets) on a bridge in Gaylang road, the red light district of Singapore. They were there to meet some friends of them coming from the same village in Sri Lanka and working in “Spore” as prostitutes.