Far from chaotic & colourful India

Trip Start Aug 09, 2008
Trip End Aug 2009

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Monday, May 25, 2009

Leaving the colourful, sometimes chaotic Indian streets for clean, efficient, and orderly Singapore was a welcome change, but we did miss the energy and vibe of India.

We were planning to travel out of the country for a few weeks, maybe to Cambodia,Vietnam, Laos, or Australia, but then the H1N1 flu virus hit, and we were concerned that coming back to Singapore, we will be quarantined, and hence miss our flight back to Canada.   

For me (Rajiv), being in Singapore for an extended period of time gave me a chance to get to know it better, by travelling on its transit system, and signing up for Iyengar Yoga classes, which I attended 3 times a week. I also started learning some Punjabi from Bobbie's father, who took me under his wing and got me started on story and exercise books, as well as some religious CDs, for an all-round cultural experience...hey its never too late to learn, I guess.

We also fit in some trips to the Zoo...a good zoo as far as they are concerned, but came away feeling sad at all the animals going extinct due to human encroachment and habitat destruction.

Musically I indulged in my interest in the Ukelele by attending a concert put on by Canadian James Hill, and his Cello playing partner Anne Davidson. They happened to be passing through Singapore after touring Japan, and we were able to catch the show. The duo were brought here by a store called Ukelele Movement that is dedicated to raising Singaporean interest in the humble Ukelele. There  were several fine Ukeleles on sale at the concert, but sadly I wasn't allowed to add to my collection of instruments.

Another neat event we got to attend was a viewing of the documentary film of the 1967 Monterey Pop festival. This was one of the first outdoor music festivals that showcased many of the top artists of the time, including The Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, Jimi Hendrix, and a great performance by Ravi Shankar, as he introduced the sound of the sitar to Western audiences. The sound and video quality of the film was excellent, and it was great to be able to watch it here.

Singapore is known for its strict laws and lack of individual freedom for the sake of a stable and safe country, which I suppose is true, but as a visitor here you don't feel that. People here  do work long hours and kids get stressed out at school, but the trade off seems to be a safe environment where anyone can go out at all hours and not feel threatened. Although, speaking to my sister-in-law, a Canadian who has lived here for 7 years, a lot of the rigidity and conformity expected by citizens shows itself in the number of bars and clubs that get filled nightly by people, as a form of release or protest, I'm not sure which.

Its also a tough life for migrant workers who do a lot of the construction work for low pay, and the maids who also work for low wages with very little protection from abusive employers. I guess the old saying that all that glitters is not gold is true.

We started taking long walks while here...the climate and good parks system makes it enjoyable, and it is something we hope to continue regularly in Canada. We visited some wetlands – mangrove forests that haven't disappeared due to development, although only a fraction of what used to be here is left, and took an interesting walk over a series of bridges in an area of the city that offered great views.

All in all its been a good way to wrap up our tour of South East Asia. Next stop is Vancouver, where we will get re-aquainted with our van,and prepare for the long drive back to Ontario.   
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