Singapore - a 'fine' city

Observations From 13 Hours in Singapore

Disclaimer: this post was written after spending a mere 13 hours in Singapore. By no means is it an accurate representation of the city/country. It’s just my ramblings from a short visit in 2009.


Singapore is a country unlike any other I’ve ever visited, as it is literally just a city. It’s like if Brooklyn were its own country. You can drive from one side to the other in less than an hour and public transportation will take you anywhere you need to go. It is also a country of rules and fines, with signs for all the things you can’t do peppering the walls of the subways, streets, buses and buildings. Most are dealt with through fines, though some more severe offenses require larger punishments. Who can forget the caning of Michael Fay in 1994 after he graffitied up a wall.

Everything from littering to spitting, playing music loudly, jaywalking and more is illegal and a fineable offense. As such, we came into Singapore having heard that it is the cleanest city in the world and had come up with a game to find the first piece of litter. However, our hopes of playing this game were quickly dashed as we saw rubbish strewn all over the side of the road moments after leaving the border. True, it is a cleaner city that most, but considering how much of an importance is placed on hygiene it seemed quite dirty.

What about the culture, you ask? There really isn’t much that is “true Singapore.” Much like Malaysia, the country is a mixing bowl of  people who all seem to hold onto their own identity. This is also reflected in the foods, though we did have a killer plate of Indian food in Little India.