Disney Land City
Singapore stands in great contradistinction to our travels to Vietnam and Cambodia and Bangkok. The city state is grand and exciting and amazing; there is not one piece of litter, one smudge of chewing gum, one broken curb anyplace. We saw no poor, no sick, no one badly dressed. The city bustles and yet is rather gracious; there is considerable traffic but there are well designed roads and public transportation. The ship’s destination consultant who lectures on each port/country made the observation that different places of worship and ethnic populations stand beside each other in Singapore without conflict because the god is commerce and people are willing to give up their personal rights for the success of the economy. Thus there are large fines for gum chewing - and no one does. Drug dealing/possession is punishable by death - so there is no drug culture.
We docked in Singapore at 6 pm and were whisked away to the China Club atop a magnificent skyscraper where we had drinks (in beautiful etched glasses) in a beautifully furnished space whose windows overlook the city. Then a seven course Chinese dinner with a harpist playing and crisp linens and great service.
On the next day we asked a cab driver to take us to the Botanical Gardens and he told us that he had a better idea - Gardens by the Bay. Too hot outside, he said (97°), and these new gardens (2012) were air conditioned and had a waterfall and supertrees --- and we said okay. GBTBay is so typically Singapore - taxis drop you at a ticket counter; after purchase, you go in a little train through 8-10 various gardens, drive by the supertrees* to the Flower Dome which is a 10 story high glass structure that overlooks the city and has every flowering plant you can imagine. Then to the Cloud Dome - again 10 stories high with waterfall and baobab trees and a giant walkway. *The supertrees are pretty great: huge metal structures with trunks made of packed plants incorporated with technologies that mimic that mimic the natural functions of trees - they catch rainwater and collect it and drain it and they capture energy. They also have computerized lights that give a light show every evening - and one has a restaurant on the top.
Then to the Raffles Long Bar for Singapore Slings and lunch, and next to St. Andrew’s Cathedral. It was hard to find one’s way in there. The main door was locked, but there was a large Welcome Center near the subway stop around the block - and the inside was AIR CONDITIONED. We went through to the nave (again hard to find the way, but we went by a kitchen and up some stairs) where the area to the side of the altar was filled with old music stands and speakers and detritus. The sanctuary was blocked by a chain with a sign ‘Do Not Enter.’ So we sat in a pew and knelt down - on plastic, for the needlepoint on the kneelers had been covered up with plastic sheets. We saw no prayer books and lots of TV screens on the pillars. Feeling very hot and not very welcome, we recalled that this was a church with a welcome CENTER, for heaven’s sake, so we went there and on our way saw the new Chapel for All People which was rather bare and mildewy smelling, but big. Then back to the welcome center whose large windows held posters (2 x 5 feet maybe) with the title “WERE APES THE ANCESTORS OF MAN?” Subheads said things like “Evolution has Never Been Proved” and “Evolution Contradicts God’s Word.” We were astounded and ashamed. Surely in this 21st century city, the Anglican Church shouldn’t be denying evolution. Who would go to this church?
Finally we took the subway back to the ship. We didn’t know the rules. We went to a ticket window where you couldn’t buy single fare tickets. So we went to a machine and mastered it - but - we didn’t have a bill small enough to work it. So we went to a money changing place and broke the $20 bill and then back to the machine again. The subways are efficient and well routed, but they are very crowded.
In short, we were glad to see this city but likely will not return.