October 28, 2013 – Singapore
Singapore, like Hong Kong, is a terrific place to visit, particularly by cruise ship. We arrived in mid afternoon, which is unusual – we hit most ports early in the morning. Singapore, with its location at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, sits on one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, as the Malacca Strait to the north and west of Singapore is the major artery between Africa, the Mideast, and India in the West, and China and Japan in the East.
The number and variety of commercial vessels is impressive and since it was midday, we got to see them as we wound our way into the harbor.
I will bet these windmill blades are headed to Houston – to be trucked up I 45 and on to West Texas.
One of the several container ports here, as you might imagine they are huge. Last year we had to dock here and were shuttled over to the regular pier.
Since the leaders of Singapore are compensated on a bonus system, tied to economic growth high employment, they are continually coming up with new ways to make money. This refinery, built on reclaimed land is an example. Singapore has no natural resources, except clay and gravel, so they built the refinery, purchase crude oil off shore and sell and ship refined products to the world. Nothing like a little incentive to create growth. I wonder where else such a system might work?
The cruise terminal here, Like the one in Hong Kong is connected to a very large mall, which, while not centrally located has a subway terminal in it, which connects to everything. Unfortunately we couldn’t exactly figure out the right subway line to take, so we opted to catch a cab to take us to the local “Hop A Bus” terminal which turned out to be located at the Singapore Flyer, the giant Ferris wheel in the center of Singapore.
Shortly after arriving and purchasing our Hop A Bus passes, the skies opened up and it poured rain. We boarded the bus, sitting downstairs, in the dry, and used the hour long circuit to plan out our next days travels. When we got back to the starting point, the Ferris Wheel had shut down due to the weather, so we determined the opening time for tomorrow, and headed back to the mall/pier. We decided to have dinner in one of the really nice restaurants in the mall (definitely not Chinese family style) and reboarded. Singapore is almost as careful with security, customs, and immigration as the US, so each time you get on or off the ship, it is quite a lengthy process. If you have gone through U.S. customs and immigration and TSA at an American airport, it is very similar to getting on and off the ship in Singapore. For that reason, most people who have been here before, get off and stay off until they board at the end of the day.
If you have followed my blogs before, you know how interesting I find the laws in Singapore – they are quite strict and enforce their laws. Including this one which was printed on our debarkation passes.
They do have their rules. We saw some T-shirts which said, “Singapore is a Fine City”
Fine for spitting $100
Fine for litter $50
Fine for Graffiti $1000
Fine for chewing gum $200
All in all it is probably the cleanest safest place we visit, and unless you are dead set on doing some of the above, it is a great country.
To our relief, our tablemates made it back from Da Nang in one piece, and had interesting tales of their adventures. They said it was fascinating being on shore and watching our ship sail in, rather than being on the ship. To bed early, so we can get an early start tomorrow.