It’s all been photographed a hundred million times before. But here it is. Stunning Singapore waterfront, built on imported sand to reclaim what has added 30% on to the land-mass. A city where, reputedly, you’re not allowed to chew gum, lest it inadvertently hits the perfect pavement. A city where the number of cars is finite; once a fortnight a list of vacant registrations is opened to auction. Bid somewhere in the region of S$50k and you might be lucky enough to get a license to run a car on Singapore streets. Just a license. The car and tolls are extra, with penalties for cars over three years old. So quite a vehicle turnover and quite a vehicle expense.
But then, with small apartments valued at S$5m to S$6m…if you own an apartment you can probably afford a car. Don’t get me wrong. There’s lots of social housing, all apartments, which are sold for around S$250k. Just basic rules. You have to be married or over 35. 30 and single you’re basically stuffed. But ho- hum. The streets are impeccably clean, the roads have just the right amount of cars and the architecture – modern and on reclaimed sea, or colonial and majestic – sits perfectly in an environment which some find too clinical, but which I think I could live in. Other than several S$m short to buy a place. Or a car come to that…
But buildings are just part of the story. The Singapore Botanic Gardens are just utterly stunning – as befits a World Heritage Site I guess. Hundreds of acres of the lushest green and spectacular floral displays, exotic tropical trees, running water, lily ponds. A chance pleasant and revealing conversation with a hardly needed security guy made complete sense of this verdant resource. Singapore has no natural forests. And so the botanic gardens create all the oxygen needed to balance the environment.
Whilst Singapore has grown and changed dramatically in recent years (thanks to imported sand and land reclamation), it seems that the forefathers had a grip on everything right from the start.