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Singapore and Malaysia – Reminiscences Unlimited

Air travel has assumed a new dimension in the modern era. Low cost airlines have made travel affordable. Singapore and Malaysia are two countries connected to rest of the world by budget airlines. Singapore like Malaysia is a destination which offers the visitors more value for their money. Singapore is not a cheap destination like Malaysia, but flying in a lot cost airline can make a huge difference in the holiday budget.

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With an area much less than that of Trivandrum district, Singapore is a pretty small country. Tourism Industry in Singapore has grown tremendously thanks to relentless pursuit for excellence in public and private ventures. Corruption is almost zero and citizens get excellent response to their grievances through a technology based interface. The public transports systems like buses and the Mass Rapid Transit popularly known as MRT are too good. The standard of living is very high thanks to a vibrant and flourishing economy. Man made attractions are the core to the Singapore experience with a handful of beaches complimenting it. When the tiger airways flight from Trivandrum landed at the Changi International Airport there was excitement in the air and Singapore did not disappoint us. From the point of touch down to the departing point, each moment was enthralling.

The first thing that struck us was the cleanliness and sophistication that was prevalent in the city. The budget was in our minds as our hosts had asked us hire a taxi other than the Chrysler as it would dent our pockets badly. The driver, who spoke excellent English, was quick to assure us that this was only a normal taxi. But from the Indian point of view this was a luxurious cab. The sights unfolded one by one as we proceeded to our place of stay, the Pinnacle at Duxton, a fifty story flat complex in the Cantonment road. This huge structure truly reflected the Singapore style of living as 85% of population lived in flats BRI.

My friend Sasi, regional manager in a multinational and family were there to greet us. Their flat which was in 46th floor was our place of rest for next five days. The view from the living from was stunning. Skyscrapers dotted the horizon and the port quite visible. The smooth flowing traffic was a sight to behold compared to the chaotic scenes which were familiar in Indian roads. My wife was pretty tired and preferred to rest while I stole out the building to get a first hand experience of Singapore. Armed with my camera, I felt like taking pictures of everything at sight.

Driving is in the blood and I longed to get behind the wheels of any of cars which whizzed past. Another thing which struck me was the rights which pedestrians enjoyed while crossing roads. Crossing a busy street back home is a nightmare while here vehicles stopped at zebra crossings when someone wanted to get to other side. I was pleasantly surprised as I hesitantly stood at crossing when vehicles stopped and the driver of the bus smilingly motioned me to cross. At that moment I felt like a king when the entire traffic stopped at its heels. Pedestrians also enjoyed the privilege of pressing a button at the crossing which stopped all traffic and allowed them to cross. I initially thought that all the cars were petrol driven as we could not see any vehicle emitting smoke from its rear. But I was in for a surprise when told that most of the cars were diesel driven. India can take a leaf out this system when it comes to curbing vehicular pollution.

Cars which were more than ten years are not allowed. So all the vehicles had new look. The buses which ply the roads were fully air-conditioned and operated both on card based payment via card readers and by payment in cash to the driver. This card system was blessing for us as we could move about on our own. MRT is the metro rail service which also could be boarded using these cards. MRT is convenient and quick way to travel in Singapore at minimal cost. The public transport system here is so good that almost all people use this as a mode of transport thus reducing traffic congestion. The commuters and people here are mostly Chinese who are seventy percent of the population. Working while traveling is common here thanks to state of art mobile devices for which Singapore is famous.

After having lunch, we departed to the boarding point of the duck tour, a popular tour package. The mode of transport is an amphibian vehicle which runs on land as well as water. Our guide, who spoke excellent English, gave us lot of information about the landmarks and building on either side of the road. We proceeded to an army area, where we saw some armored vehicles resembling the one which were riding. They were kept as exhibits to remember the heroes of war. Soon the guide announced that we are entering the Marina bay and the journey was now through water. From this point onwards it was like a boat ride. Awesome structures lining the bay were a sight to behold. The Marina Bay Sands, Science Museum and the Merlion were the sights that were feast to the eyes.

After circling the bay the vehicle once again become a land driven one as we took the roads. Next stop was the Singapore flyer which is essentially a giant wheel offering a bird’s-eye view of the city and its surroundings. The cabins of the flyer are of reinforced steel and glass offering a 360 degree view of the city. One revolution of the flyer takes about thirty minutes and it rotates in clockwise direction. Earlier it rotated in the counter clock wise direction. This was later reversed on the advice of Feng Shui masters. We returned to our flat by 10 pm by MRT without much trouble.

One amazing thing which I noticed was the precise timing adhered to by the public transport system be it MRT or the buses. The bus stops and MRT stations had displays which showed timings and route maps. We could find out the bus numbers and timings from Internet and to our pleasant surprise found the system adhering the timings perfectly. The Indian counterparts will benefit if they take a cue from this. The next day we scheduled our visit to the Sentosa Island. The ticket covered some attractions and the cable car ride to and fro. The cable car experience was simply out of the world. My wife was initially apprehensive to look down, but the fear gave way to excitement as we fell into the groove.

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