Arriving at Singapore

After a stop-over at Colombo, Sri Lanka, I was off to Singapore on Emirates Airlines. Immigration was not as “breezy” as Dubai. The guys at Dubai had stamped my exit on an obscure page of my passport, so the Singaporean immigration officer and I, spent several minutes looking for it! Eventually, the stamp was found and I was let through (after they had asked exactly how much I had on me, counted my physical cash and looked at my hotel booking).

One thing I noted on my trips was that no one at the different airports asked to see baggage claim tags, unlike Nigeria. The countries I visited were high trust environments. You’re not expected to take anyone else’s luggage!

First impressions

Singapore wasn’t as shiny and new as Dubai, and there was obvious security at the airport – soldiers with guns. My friend picked me up and we left for my hotel via train. I bought a tourist pass from a major train station, Bugis, which provided unlimited rides on trains and buses over a 3-day period, as well as a list of places to go with a map. On a sad note, I learnt from my friend that Singapore required a deposit on every train ride (which you reclaim at your destination), because Nigerians had once defrauded the system, necessitating the new rules. Sigh! You can’t eat or drink on the train or bus and there are constant terrorism advisories.

In the evening, I sampled my first local outdoor meal. Trust me, you never want to see how the food is cooked. Everything swims in broth and you eat with a fork and spoon or chopsticks– no knives or paper napkins – you come with yours. There’s really nothing to cut anyway as everything’s bite-sized. The food isn’t peppery, as their chili is sweet not hot.

The sights

On my second day in Singapore, I visited the Esplanade (a cultural centre for plays and events), where there’s a Haagen-Dazs store. (I still dream of sampling the fondue someday.) I also went to Suntec Plaza – home to the Fountain of Wealth, the world’s biggest fountain, as well as restaurants serving food from across Asia.

In Asia, the food names are not easy to pronounce, so I pointed at what I wanted. But, don’t point with your forefinger – it’s impolite. Point with your thumb instead.


There were few black faces in Singapore when I visited. Although, the city has the largest port in the world and so, is a centre for trade, I guess black merchants prefer China – for cheaper goods. I learnt many Nigerians congregate around Mustafa’s in Little India, a 24-hr supermarket close to an African Kitchen.

There are people everywhere in Singapore and they walk fast! However, despite the numbers, I was informed the city has a shrinking population, as childbirth is dropping. Yet, they are strict on immigration, preferring only guest workers from other Asian countries.

More about Singapore

The weather is hot (and when it’s not, it’s raining). There are a lot of underpasses and with the train system, you rarely get to see the scenery go by. But, the city is relatively compact so you can walk everywhere if you can navigate.

The top hotels in Singapore are on Orchard Road (the city’s Rodeo Drive). If you prefer Old World charm, try the Raffles Hotel in the Colonial District. (Stamford Raffles founded modern Singapore).

The national pastime is eating. There’s food everywhere, yet it’s so healthy, you don’t put on any weight. I was informed Singaporeans don’t have a cooking culture, so people eat out. You’ll see entire families with babies and grandparents in tow, at the Food Courts.

The young ladies are very fashionable and they love to shop! Also, because of the heat, this is the city of the scantily clad and the women are modestly endowed. Casual clothes are a hit here, especially jeans shorts and flip flops.

There are three main tribes in Singapore – Chinese, Malay and Indian. Women wear their hair long and well endowed people with short hair may not be considered beautiful by their cultural standards. Singaporeans are openly affectionate, canoodling and holding hands. I hear sex begins at a young age. But, because of very strict birth control and education, you rarely see unwed mothers. Some hotels are known to provide hourly rates for quickies and it’s all done openly.

Structure & tourism

Singapore is very organized. There are signs everywhere; many street shops, public utilities and WIFI. Contemporary hip-hop is the rage.

If you’re visiting the Singapore Zoo or Jurong Bird Park, you are well advised to wear trousers and socks, as there are sand flies. Most parks open at 9am and usually have specialized shows through the day. The Night Safari attached to the zoo has a great show in the evening.

I sampled the famous “Singapore Sling” at Sentosa Island, where there’s an underwater show (which I was unfortunately late for). The Sling is like Chapman, but made from fruit juice and gin. I noted that the Food Courts are usually at the entrances of theme parks, so they do brisk business from those who just want food and don’t want to pay the park fee.


Singapore is a very interesting place to visit. You can take in everything in a few days and you may not need to stay longer than a week.

Read the final part of my Middle East & South East Asia trip here.

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