Before arriving in Singapore, I met a British man on a dive live aboard in the Andaman Sea who summed it up as: A boring place to visit but a great place to live. This struck me as odd, as I’d always assumed that the things that make a place a nice place to live would also be fun to visit. Yet when I got there, I could see what he meant by that, even if I didn’t find this island city/state anywhere near as boring as he let on.
First, Singapore is orderly. As anyone who has traveled through central or southeastern Asia can attest, this is not the norm. Roadways are clean, public transportation is dependable and the culture truly understands the importance of air conditioning (sitting nearly at the equator this is not a surprise). The city and skyline are modern (with the exception of the venerable Raffles Hotel) with all the conveniences and trappings of modern consumer culture. Crime is extremely low, no doubt in part to the stringent (many would say excessive) penalties for offenders, many of which carry the death sentence. So I guess I can see what he meant by it being a nice place to live–safe environment, easy commutes via the ring-shaped metro line, and all the chain restaurants one could ever need.
What I wasn’t so convinced about was his claim of it being boring. I mean, sure it doesn’t have the same chaos as India or Thailand, nor the world-class attractions of either, but this doesn’t mean this is a dull place at all. Orchard Road—the swanky part of town offers plenty of shopping opportunities. There are amusement parks and lots of water all around, with all the entertainment opportunities such venues present. There’s an awesome botanical garden showcasing native flora and original rain forest. And best of all they’ve got the Night Safari—a zoo that opens in the evenings when the animals are more active. Housed in discreetly-lit habitats, this nighttime adventure is both a great idea and star attraction.
So to sum up my own take on Singapore: Boring? Not at all! Up there with New York, Paris or Hong Kong? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. A nice place to live? Possibly. So long as you can give up certain freedoms like conscientious objection or chewing gum and don’t mind a living in a constant state of 1000000% humidity then yeah, I imagine it’s a great place to live.