A Nine-hour Stopover in Singapore en route to Bali

Trip Start Jan 30, 2010
Trip End Jul 30, 2010

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Where I stayed
The Singapore Airport

Flag of Singapore  ,
Monday, March 15, 2010

This was really "just" a 9 hour daytime layover in Changi Airport, Singapore - enroute to Bali.  Changi Airport is a beautiful airport (yes - beautiful!) - gardens (butterfly, fern, orchid, koi ponds), a soothing and relaxing place to be, with free wifi and foot/calf massage chairs; more duty-free shopping than one could need (including electronics, brand name clothing, as well as the usual perfume and alcohol). 

A midday highlight was their Colonial city tour - guides help to get travellers through customs with a day pass and we step on to a bus (sponsored by the city/airport) with a lovely gentleman who spoke so proudly of changes in the 60's, the end of British colonial rule in '65 to rising from poverty and economic chaos to modern-day Singapore.  He described how they first addressed housing (with hi rise apartments, since land area is limited) and then made sure their children all received good education (in English)... in one generation's time, with very clear rules (no spitting, no litter, automatic road tolls during rush hour, everyone is punctual) - implemented by long-standing government, "it works very well, so we keep the same government - why destabalize with many elections?  this undermines democracy and progress, instead Singapore has a very stable financial market!". 
The tour stopped for a stroll through the old Colonial section - preserved buildings, now used for museums etc; the rest of the city is new everywhere, all tall buildings.  On the way back to the airport, our guide confessed to some new problems in Singapore:  "our youth are spoiled brats - intelligent idiots with no street smarts and many do not want to work hard - we have to bring in migrants for labour; this generation keeps to our former one child policy (when we didn't have enough housing), in spite of government's change to four vs two month maternity leave and baby bonus!". Our guide also explained about religion and culture: "religion is neutral - our children learn to respect all religions and culture; places of worship are privately funded and there is zero tolerance for fanatics - it's OK to promote religion but no insults, politics or economic preaching permitted - if you have opinions, then work in government!".  He made a good case for social order, stable governance and respect - it made us wonder how governance can best help to build community while celebrating individual expression.
Singapore Airlines is a bit like the airport and the city - immaculately groomed staff, delicious food, hot steaming washclothes for weary faces.  Just as well - it was a long journey and we soon encountered a very different airport with very different traffic outside and some pretty interesting English on some of the signs... Bali.  
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