Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Singapore, the sequel

A little more about Singapore, according to that noted authority, my taxi driver to the airport:

About 75 percent of the population (4.4 million) is Chinese, 15 percent is Malay, and 8 percent is Indian. The rest are other Asians and European/American ex-pats.

The main languages are Mandarin Chinese, Malay and English (it IS a former British colony and part of the Commonwealth).

In the early 1970s, the island opened its first freeway. Now there are 8, almost 9. Rarely does a traffic jam delay you for more than 15 minutes (take that, I-95!).

Every male has to do a 2-year stint in the military.

And then this is what some of my colleagues there told me about the city:

Singapore's relationship with Malaysia is kind of like the U.S. relationship with Canada: They love to deride each other, but ultimately, they are good neighbors.

To ensure racial harmony, the government ruled that public housing blocks have no more than 25 percent of any ethnic minority living there.

It's 3 degrees north of the equator, so it really doesn't ever cool down.

You can live well on the cheap there. One British pound is worth almost 3 Singapore dollars.

It's a good place to get places from, with Phuket, Perth and other cities about 4 hours away by plane (so less time than it takes to get from NJ to FL, for example).

And on the subject of taxi drivers, I find them to be a great resource for learning about places. Especially here in London, where they have to take an exam called The Knowledge, for which they have to know really almost every London street, hotel, church, and much, much more.

9 Comments:

Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

Re: Taxi drivers: You're forgetting, Mrs. W., that many of the DC taxi drivers had gotten off the boat minutes before picking you up as a fare.

There were many good ones, of course, but there were a few bad ones.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Kitkat said...

my brother's a London cabbie and the amount of information they retain is incredible. It often takes more than 2 years to learn 'the knowledge'.

BTW if you notice people driving along on scooters with a clip board attached to the front, these guys are learning the knowledge.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Schmutz said...

And then there was the taxi driver in Silver Spring MD who scolded us when we expected him to be able to take us to a specific address. We wondered why he didn't have a map if he didn't know the territory.

8:23 PM  
Blogger oldest kid said...

We had one in New Jersey who said he knew how to get us where we wanted to go, but, after a little while it became clear he had no idea and he eventually had to call someone!

12:55 AM  
Blogger Middle Kid said...

Yeah, but that's easy to do in New Jersey. No matter how far away something might be from where you are, you're told,"It's only 20 minutes away." At least that's what our hosts in New Jersey always told us!

2:13 AM  
Blogger oldest kid said...

I think that's exactly what he said! "It's only 20 minutes away."

12:32 PM  
Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

Look, if I was reminded of anything about our recent trip back it's how much time Jerseyites (and, frankly, much of America) spends in their cars.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Schmutz said...

In any case, London taxi drivers have the reputation as being the best in the world and I'm looking forward to that experience.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous ssmum said...

I remember those New Jersey miles from visiting the state for a wedding a few years ago.

5:40 PM  

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