For $54 you get a luxury double decker bus (that’s what we’re taking today). Imagine a bus with airplane business class seats (one on each side). As such, this bus holds just 18 passengers. We have an attendant who serves drinks and meals. Our pod seats recline and offer a massage option. There are multiple movies and video games available, just like a plane.
There are also $70 and $100 buses, but I can’t imagine what additional things they might offer (not booze, Malaysia is a Muslim country). Plane tickets are $50-75, and take almost as long downtown to downtown. We talked about it, and the kids decided they wanted to try the luxury bus rather than taking another discount flight - so here we are! We walked out of our Singapore hostel at 9 am, and should be to our hotel in Kuala Lumpur about 5 or 6 pm. Quite a relaxing day, when you think about it. (We actually walked into our hotel at 4 pm. Interesting tidbit: our 15 minute cab ride to the bus station in Singapore cost $18. A longer cab ride in Kuala Lumpur cost less than $3.)
Anyway, my main subject today is Singapore. What a fascinating and intriguing place. We had a really nice week, and already want to return to see all the stuff we know we missed. Ursula and I both said “I could live here”. George liked it. Molly decided she likes heat, but not humidity, so Singapore won’t ever be on her bucket list.
Singapore has a unique racial history. Unlike most large Asian cities, there weren't many inhabitants on this island before the British arrived. Today, there are three major (almost indigenous) groups: Malays (Muslim); Indians (Hindu mostly); and Chinese (Buddhists). There are also many people from other places, including Westerners and other Asians. This means that when you’re walking down the street, you have no idea whose families have been here for hundreds of years, and who is a recent arrival or tourist. For anyone who embraces the diversity of the 21st century global culture, Singapore is invigorating and energizing.
I haven’t seen any statistics, but I cannot imagine there’s anywhere on earth with more places to eat than Singapore. In fact, if you’re a foodie, Singapore should be at the top of your Bucket List! More surprising than the sheer number of options is the fact that even the cheapest street vendors and food courts offer excellent food for surprisingly low prices. I guess the never-ending and fierce competition keeps everyone on their toes! The notable exceptions are the touristy places along the river and in big hotels. These places are also good, but much more expensive.
As Ursula has noted in her blog, there is also an amazing variety of architecture in terms of buildings, but also in terms of bridges and roads and parks and monuments. In fact, we met a young Dutch woman who studies architecture and had just finished a semester in Singapore exploring all it had to offer. Civic infrastructure is first rate, spotlessly clean, and perfectly maintained (reminds me of Germany and Switzerland).
Overall, I give the place an A+. I know it’s not democratic and individual rights are not protected like in the West, but there is much to admire in this unique city-state - and I know I want to spend more time here.