Just about a week ago I arrived back from a school trip to Singapore. It was a bit longer of a stay than some of my past trips but one that came with the vast responsibility of taking care of the students along for the ride. Perhaps I wasn’t able to do quite everything I would have wished, but that comes with the territory of a school trip. We did quite a bit though, and if I ever get a second shot a Singapore I have some insight into the city I will be able to employ.
Singapore is an interesting situation. Once a British colony, then a brief member of Malaysia, after being liberated from Japan, before finally and quickly turning into the independent force of economy it is today. Singapore incorporated, topping the charts as one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, yet money flows into the city through trade and tourism and many there are doing quite well. It is very much a well-managed, systematic, money-making city-state with the primary objective quite clearly being money. I liked Singapore, they are good at what they do, but even hearing the way the history of the city was told through narration in the Nation Museum of Singapore, it became quite clear how much the Singaporeans are encouraged to love their founder, and how much they are encouraged to love money. So much of their recent history focus on how much money they’ve made. Now I’m not hating on money. It just rubs me wrong for that to be held as a single greatest achievement. Not when you have a city as diverse and with as much history as Singapore has. They have created this wonderful little, at least based on the outward appearance, utopia in Singapore. However, I feel like a lot of its success in this is because they have successfully appealed to the base desires and fears that every culture holds. Nearly everyone loves money, and nearly everyone fears the penalties and what freedoms they can take from you if you for breaking one of their many strict laws.
This being said, I loved being in Singapore. I would not want to live there, but as a tourist destination, it has everything. It has your popular touristy landmarks to take pictures and selfies with. If you want to advise on what to prioritize, set the flower and cloud domes above the others. I had a great time there. It has a beautiful modern city, a preserved old district, and even protected forests and wildlife expeditions. Then there’s the food. Singapore is famous for its hawker markets and has put a lot of effort into preserving them. It is yet to be seen if their actions will succeed but for now, these markets are still a great foodie destination. Even with a busload of students, we were able to enjoy a couple of the more tame ones. That would be my first priority if I were able to return to Singapore. I would check out as much of the local food as I could, as well as dive into the nightlife a bit more. Things I was not quite able to do with as a teacher on a school trip. Oh, and I would probably cough up the money to swim in the pool atop the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. It’s probably worth it to simply enjoy that view.
Overall Singapore left me curious and wanting more. I felt I was just dabbling with the surface of it, and that there was so much more I hadn’t experienced. Perhaps some of my hesitations about the cities priorities could be sated by some of what I could still learn, spending more time in it. I truly hope to get that chance!
By Tyler W. Golec