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Despite the jet-lag and not getting to bed until after midnight local time I was up at 7am this morning in order to catch up with the world back home and get some work done. Duties done I went for a wander around ‘little India’, as the area where I’m staying is known as. No prizes for guessing that it’s the old centre of Singapore’s Indian community! It’s a fascinating place to wander around although it’s quiet in the mornings as the place doesn’t really spring to life until later. Singaporeans are night owls!

Despite not being here since 2017 I immediately felt at home. Everything was so familiar. The sights, sounds and smells reminded me of so many parts of Asia that I’ve seen. I spent some time browsing local shops just to get an idea of how much prices have changed. The answer is some – but seemingly not as much as the UK. The one thing that has increased is the price of alcohol but then Singapore is a bit of a ‘nanny state’, which is what amuses me about the Tories ambitions to turn the UK into ‘Singapore on Thames’ – they don’t actually know much about the place. Year ago you used to be able to buy T-shirts that said ‘Singapore is a fine place – there’s a fine for everything’! It’s true to an extent. You name it, from fishing to rubbish dumping, chewing gum or smoking – there’s so many things that are not allowed. On the positive side, it means the country’s actually very safe and there’s certainly not the obesity epidemic that we see in the UK. I’ve been out all day and I haven’t seen a single person who would be classed as morbidly obese. In the UK I’d see several. It was one of the things that really struck me. The other was the fact that so many people are still wearing masks, not just on public transport, but in the streets – and that applies to all the Singaporean communities.

After wandering around little India I caught the metro to do some exploring. Mask-wearing was almost 100% on public transport, which was such a contrast to the UK – even at the height of Covid. But then, society is much more cohesive here. There’s far less the cult of the individual. It’s not that you can’t express your own individuality though fashion or style but you still show consideration for others when it comes to stuff that really matters.

I could blog for ages about my day, but it’s getting late and I’ll have to be up early as a Singaporean friend has just reminded me of something I’d forgotten about that’s going to affect my travel plans. I’d been intending to be on the move during Chinese New Year – and that’s a really big deal where I’d be travelling, so I’m going to be spending a few hours in the morning rebooking a few things and adjusting the amount of time I’m spending in Kuala Lumpur where I’ll be for New Year.

In the meantime, here’s a few pictures from today.

On the metro. One car has a central area devoid of seats for the disabled and people with lots of luggage.
Strap-hanging is alive and well in Singapore!
Masks are mandatory on the metro, but smart phones are de rigueur!
The modern metro lines are built underground, but the North-South line onwards from Bishan was one of the earlier extensions to the original 3 lines. it opened in 1996. Here’s a train heading South from Khatib station. The next picture was taken a bit further down the road. It shows a North-South line train skirting the edge of the lower Selator reservoir. Unlike the more modern lines, these trains (built by either Kawasaki or Rotem) still have drivers.
Here’s another later extension to the original network. This is Tuas Link. Its the new Western terminus of the East-West line. This 7.5 kilometre extension from Gul Circle opened in June 2017.
Inside Tuas link station looking along the island platform to the exits.

Right, lots more tomorrow! But for now – goodnight…

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