Saturday, December 11, 2010

Clean and Green Singapore: First Impressions

There's a sense of comfort you get when you enter Singapore. First, it's spotlessly clean airport- whose magnificent size you don't get any idea about till you actually enter it through the departure lounge or are transiting through Singapore- greets you with open arms. There's ample of space and the airport is uncluttered.  But you get a sense of Singapore once you hit the road. Trees are the dominant theme; you'll find them everywhere. At the side of the roads, in the middle of roads on road dividers, on open grounds and not-so-open grounds fighting space with the concrete jungle- unlike anywhere you'll ever see- sprouting from the sides of- and almost  underneath- the flyover and growing tall almost the height of the flyovers, you'll find trees everywhere. Singapore is one of the greenest cities I've ever seen.


The other thing that hits you- if you're Indian- is that you'll see a lot of Indians. Especially in and around a place called Little India where incidentally we too had stayed. Lots of Tamils and Mallus. But it's a great place to stay because it suits the budget and it is very well connected, thanks to Singapore's awesome public transport (underground rail, bus and taxi network)

Apart from greenery, Singapore also seems to have a zero tolerance towards cleanliness. Food is cheap to averagely priced to highly priced. But if you're willing to open your wallet just a bit much, you'll never go hungry in Singapore. There's ample of food there. We feasted at the Newton's food plaza- a large cluster of food stalls that serves sumptuous meals at moderate prices. This is a must-must on every tourist's agenda. A slightly upmarket option are the numerous river-side eateries- bunched together across two Quays; Clarke Quay and Boat Quay. We had dinner at Clarke's Quay at this fabulous Thai cuisine restaurant called Renn Thai. Authentic Thai food, as good as Mumbai's Thai Pavillion, but at perhaps half the cost. Because the place is so hygienic, you can eat anywhere and not worry. You even drink water straight from the sink, just like in the US.


Getting around in Singapore is very easy. Thanks to their public transport- their underground rail and bus network is as good as it can get- you can go almost everywhere. Ofcourse, some walking is required and at times taxis are a must too, but that's okay. Just take an MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) pass from any of the underground rail stations and you can then seamlessly travel on their trains, buses and also MRT-affiliated taxis. MRT is the most cost efficient way of travelling within Singapore.

Night life must be sampled. I am not talking discos here, I mean Singapore city under lights. The city, just like Hong Kong, just comes alive under the stars. It's all very glitterring. Take a walk the alongside the Singapore river from Clarke's Quay all the way to Merlion or take a boat ride one way and then walk your way back. Visit Botanical gardens (do take a walk within, at the Orchid Park) and don't forget to take a walk at Orchard Road; Singapore's haven for shopoholics.

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