Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 13 August 2014 • Abroad
Singapore is a city and country that is often misjudged by visitors, at least those around me. “It’s only good for shopping at the malls, it’s boring,” “It’s too organized,” “It’s not budget traveler friendly,” or “We have way more beautiful natural sceneries, they only have concrete buildings!” are some of the reasons why they don’t find Singapore interesting.
Fair enough, everybody’s entitled to opinions. I started visiting Singapore for work but I almost always extended my trips for pleasure. The more I visit this small island country, the more I saw different sides of it. Until now, after my, perhaps, 8 brief visits (the latest being in 2012 and each visit was never more than 3 days, sadly), I still find new things to explore, and they’re not always kept in concrete walls.
So, what are my reasons to love Singapore? Here are, at least, 7 of them.
I’m not even close to being OCD – Mumun might not believe that – but having lived for so long in a country with so little order (your one and only Indonesia), I often long for orderliness in the society. Having fine system that works for simple but potentially dangerous activities like jaywalking and smoking in public (yup, it’s a danger to the health of others around you) can only do good to your people. Having said that, I noticed it’s been less strict nowadays, I’m not sure why. But overall it’s still an orderly country, at least to my observation.
Time is money, so a highly punctual public transportation like Singapore’s MRT is really a treasure in (urban) life. Did you know that Singapore’s MRT is almost 100% in punctuality? It’s also clean and well-maintained. I rarely take the bus because I find the MRT more convenient and faster, but the bus is recommended as well. Plus, they have carding system that works for both the bus and MRT.
What is transportation without comprehensive sign system and street directions? Well, you can find all that in Singapore. If you get lost in Singapore, you might just be holding the map upside down (like I once did!).
Singapore is one of the few cities in South East Asia where big international artists come and perform, often on their way to/from the Down Under. The concert hall or stadium is often swarmed with fans from Singapore as well as nearby countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. Coldplay, Metallica, No Doubt, you name it, they’ve performed to Singapore. Though sometimes it’s less fun when applied in rock concerts, the orderliness keeps people safe.
I like going to plays, but I’m not really into those seriously poetic and deep artsy ones. I’m more of a pop culture kid and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Moreover, I’ve been friends with Mumun for so long, her worship to pop culture cannot not rub off on me. (Did you know that she claims herself as a boyband expert?) Anyway. We rarely have great musicals in Indonesia that’s based on something familiar. But Singapore has had plays like Phantom of the Opera, Cats, the Lion King, The Sound of Music, etc, that gained very good reviews.
So it was definitely a pride to Indonesia when Matah Ati play was initially held in Singapore before Jakarta and Solo.
Toy Museum, Stamp Museum, National Museum, Asian Civilizations Museum, and many more museums that are well-maintained and some are well-designed.
Exhibitions are often held in Singapore. In mid-year of 2012, there were Harry Potter and Andy Warhol exhibitions held in Singapore Art & Science Museum. I went to the Andy Warhol exhibition and it was awesome! They display was neat and the guide explained everything in details.
Since I started to do more writing, I’ve been sitting too much. So I’ve grown fond of walking. Jakarta, the city where I live, sucks for pedestrians. Most of the sidewalks are crooked and has holes, totally unsafe and uncomfortable. So I really appreciate my chance to walk in Singapore, where pedestrians are given equal rights to vehicles. Plus, I heard that the streets in Singapore are installed hidden CCTV cameras, so it is relatively safe for anyone to walk alone even at night.
Having said point number 5, there are times when my legs get tired of walking. However, I don’t always want to sit indoor or pay for beverages that I don’t need just so I can sit somewhere proper. Bless Singapore for having parks and street-side benches. Bless Singapore for designed the city well, so I can just sit to rest my legs with a good view. Like that time I did in front of Singapore Art & Science Museum, with the view of the river and Helix Bridge. Life felt really good!
I’ve been to a few airports and so far Changi is my favorite. Well, other than the totally manual one in Batanes, but that’s because it’s funny. Changi is heaven for budget travelers because they provide a lot of freebies. Snooze Lounge that can save you some accommodation money, online computers where you can browse the net before getting a SIM card, free automatic foot massage, a pretty butterfly garden and many more.
There are quite a number of websites giving this information, such as this one I just found. What’s more, the airport is accessible by MRT, which is a lot cheaper than taxi. For more complete information on Changi airport, click here.
There are actually more reasons to love Singapore. Reasons I have yet to explore, which have been planned for my next visits. To name a few, they are the bookstores recommended by my book-loving friends Windy Ariestanty and The Dusty Sneakers, the Mount Faber National Park that Diyan told me about, a cat café (!!!), and some ice cream parlors that I think my friend Vindhya mentioned. And I’m sure there are more and more things that can be my reasons to love Singapore.
You, what do you think of Singapore?
While you’re in Singapore, why not take a few days off to Indonesian islands? Direct flights with AirAsia takes you to Bali, Balikpapan (optionally continue to Derawan Islands), Padang (which is only a few hours from Pacu Jawi in Batusangkar), Yogyakarta, and more.