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February 26, 2016

Singapore Flash- A Photo Album

On 10th January, at about 1:00 a.m. in a Jet Airways flight which might be somewhere above the Indian Ocean making its way to Mumbai, I got this amazing idea of reconciling the moments I had spent in the last ten days in Singapore. So when the whole world had fallen asleep, I though of writing. But I had nothing to write on. So this blog post is a result of my cluttered notes on some Jet Airways paper-napkins. So let us go touring!    

Singapore Port from the top of Merlion!

Random Notes

On the streets of Universal! 
I walked down the road to the bus stop! It had just rained but nowhere could I see water logging. As I reached the bus stop, my uncle who had been living in Singapore since a decade checked his smartphone to check when the next bus arrives. While he checked his phone, I looked at the other side of the road, there were a couple of very sophisticated road equipment which one usually doesn't get to see in India. The bus arrived and we were off to Sentosa Island at about 11:00 a.m. in the morning. We returned at 8:00 p.m. and voila, they had reconstructed the whole road! 

Singapore as a city seemed very interesting and impressive to me. I loved walking on the roads of Singapore, as they had a very consistent footpath unlike India where footpaths, cycle tracks are still a rare features. 

Get your eyes tricked? At Trick Eye Museum Singapore
The most amazing picture sets that will trick your eyes! 
In India we are endangered by the problem of pollution which we say is the result of growing industrialization. But Singapore, which is a first world country, doesn't have this problem. I wondered how Singapore maintained an air quality  cleaner than what one usually gets to breathe in India. We complain about traffic jams and long transit time in India. In Singapore, you do not get to see more than 10 cars weighting at any traffic signal. How does Singapore tackle the problem of excessive traffic?

 In Singapore, the widest road that you get is a 4 lane road. Therefore, they leave the rest of the space for green patches, which can be seen consistently throughout Singapore. These green patches are not only well maintained and tamed, but also beautifully landscaped. 

Fish! Fish! Everywhere!
Interacting with the most fascinating
sets of fishes in S.E.A Aquarium.
Second, very few people in Singapore own cars. Even the upper class travels in the very efficient metros and buses. Due to the efficiency of public transport (which I am later going to elucidate about in this post) and the high cost of parking a car, people prefer to not buy a car but use the seamless public transport. 

Third, all major places in Singapore have been joined by cycling and walking trails. As a result, people walk and cycle a lot. In my 10 day visit to Singapore, I walked more than my how much I usually do in India. It is interesting to observe that in India, conventional wisdom says that the less we walk and more we travel by a car, the higher standards of living we have. However, in Singapore, the richest of the rich walk down (and why will they not, it is so pleasant!) 


You are watching a show and then a plane comes right
in front of you from nowhere! The scale at which these shows
were organized is unimaginable! By the way,
Waterworks at Universal Studios!


Public Private Partnership

The Glorious Marina Bay!
Singapore is an excellent example of what we usually refer to in books and theories as Public Private Partnership. The mobilization of this concept of PPP has a great role in strengthening every aspect of lifestyle in Singapore. For example, their public transit system, which I have been so proudly mentioning. The bus stops and metro stations have been connected to all major places by strategic walking bridges and subways to encourage people to rely on public transport. Marina Bay, an architectural wonder is a private hotel that you can see in this picture with three towers and a long skyline. This hotel has a metro station, in its basement and a bus station inside it. Moreover, a walkway bridge joins the hotel's interior to public gardens constructed by the government. This not only becomes profitable for the Singapore government as all people travelling to Marina Bay, nearby gardens and other destinations at a walking distance from Marina Bay use public transport. But also this is profitable for the private hotel too as even though the public gardens and all other nearby public recreational facilities are not owned by the hotel but they become a feature of the hotel. Moreover a metro stop in their basement makes their hotel more accessible.  
Spot the ever revolving Universal globe!

Also, the fares for all public transport systems metros, buses and some cabs are paid through a common card. This card can not only be used to pay fares in buses and metros but also can be used to use and buy tickets for many other facilities in Singapore. Such a card integrates all transit systems and eases up the whole process. Also, such a card just has to be tapped on a designated device placed at the entrance of buses and trains. Therefore, it becomes a paperless system. The requirement of a ticket issuer and a ticket checker is cut in Singapore. But the greatest problem that such a card would face in any place of issue would be its mobilization. This has been ensured again by PPP. 7-Eleven having a very wide ranging network has been made centers for recharging these cars. These cards can be issued and recharged at all 7-Eleven stores. As a result, you can get a recharge outlet in every few kilometers. Moreover people who have to recharge their cards, look out for a 7- Eleven store and even if they don't enter the store to buy something, they end up buying something as they recharge their card. Therefore, the public private partnership model has been brought into execution at various aspects of life in Singapore and has definitely had a revolutionary effect on life standards in the positive sense. 

No Theft, No Crime, No Bypassing Systems! How? 

Desperate Times.......
My greatest astonishment (being an Indian) was that no one tried to bypass any laws or regulations or cheat bus drivers or bribe them. My first observation was that every place worked in a system starting from a Subway shop to a Cruise center. They had systems for even small things that we, Indians, tend to manage without any laid out systems. Everyone in Singapore had grown up following those systems and people do not even think of cheating or bypassing the system.

Though there systems are well in place with measures to prevent any cheating or bypassing, however a typical Indian might easily find ways to bypass such a system (like I did find, just too many). Therefore, even though it was relatively easy to bypass any of those systems no one did so and that brings me to my second observation- motive. Every theft, crime is driven by a motive. Bypassing systems are usually motivated by financial needs. But Singapore having a high GDP and low population, has a very high GDP per capita. Therefore, there general population is rich and even casual labourers earn enough. Therefore, they don't have a motive to commit any theft. 
But even if there might be some people who would have found ways to bypass systems and would have had a financial urge too, they do not indulge in such practices because of the fear of getting caught by the Singapore Police. We got a glimpse of this fear when we called for a taxi and the driver refuse to take 5 people in the taxi as 4 was the maximum number of people allowed to be taken in cars as per the Singapore law.

On the top of the World! Siloso Beach, Sentosa

The Dark Face of Sytematism


Spot the cheetah! The other one, please...
Singapore Zoo
How did they actually make such an organized system possible? Apart from having an educated and trained population, another facilitation of such a system is that they do not have pure democracy which means swifter decision making and faster executions. Second, they have a strictly censored press which helps in maintaining a positive environment, suppress dissents and make the place healthier and quieter.

Amidst the wild! Bird Park! 
Therefore, they are much more organized and systematic in their way of working and living than one gets to see in India. As said above, they have a system for almost everything which we, Indians, tend to manage without systems. As a result they are able to manage huge crowds very efficiently.  This is because they have clear instructions for everything. However, these very systems that enable them to cater to thousands of tourists have reduced creativity at individual level to almost zero. Since they have clear standard  instructions for each and every thing, they do not use their intelligence in day to day life. As a result even when there are merely three or four people waiting for a train, the whole process of queuing up is still not bypassed. However, it is interesting that this very dumbness of theirs has actually led to zero-like crime rates and negligible instances of breach of law.

Having a Birdly experience! Interacting in Virtual Reality
Singapore Science Centre
Therefore, on a concluding note, Singapore is an ideal vacation place because they have endless rides and fun places which you can go on exploring for months together. Moreover it is a very impressive place as in every few meters you get to see structures which you would have never seen before. Remarkably, not even one of the skyscrapers in Singapore is like the other. Therefore, Singapore is a well crafted city. However, India is a new adventure everyday just because it is not so organized and that is exactly where India's beauty lies. You might be elated after spending a week or so in Singapore but as I landed in Mumbai and started packing my paper-napkin notes, I realized that one living in Singapore might get bored getting ground in the same system each and every day while one living in India has an adventure each day!  
On a cruise! Unmissable experience...
Superstar Gemini
With love, Abhimanyu!