May 1st, 2011

Alah Ma! Singapore la

Singapore? Alah ma! Whenever I come here I eat as though I’m making up for all the years since leaving in 1995. I had superannuation here. A government job. I was escaping mediocrity for the glamour this place seemed to offer.
Life on the street in Singapore

Returning in my 40s, all I see is bread and circus. The older folk know how to live, in gritty parts of town like Geylang, where I’ve found a 1-star rated hotel. Actually, it smells like the place where my employer put me up on my very first night here. The streets around here are good for mud crabs, probably venereal crabs (yes, this hotel is cheap over night—having made its dough by the hour during the day), and, I have just noticed, bicycles. In gritty neighbourhoods like this one, cycling means poor old dudes who don’t value their lives, bumping around footpaths gathering crushed aluminium cans.

No change to report on Orchard road. Still a marvellous place, severed by through-traffic. I’m still not sure what right cars have to be on the main shopping street.

The big change is around the harbour. Lee Quan Yew always was ready to use architecture to thrill his tax payers; other treats including legalised prostitution, only good news in the government owned media, and a subterranean laberynth of air-conditioned shopping arcades. Of late though, the "iconic" architecture really has gotten out of control.

Bread and circus, Singapore style

Perhaps I'm too old, too serious, or too politically aware, to be too impressed. What use is a light show, if the population is jammed into underground trains? Don’t get me wrong, they’re great trains. But this whole population would be free to move, quickly, if high speed vehicular traffic was limited a handful of roads, rather than all of them. This is flat nations, with virtually nowhere to cycle, but along the edge of the river. 

If the plan really is to honeycomb the whole city with underground aircon arcades, to keep people buying new clothes without getting them sweaty, then why not dig cycle routes parallel to the underground train lines? I guess Singapore Inc. are yet to be convinced that cycling will make them any money, the way cars have, and renting out underground shops people are jummaed into, if they every want to get anywhere via the train. 

Singaporeans would be amazed though, at how small, flat and accessible this island really could be, if bike were given a chance.

Anyhoo, I filmed lots of clips of myself riding around taking about cyclespace (including on their F1 track) and I met some wonderful bike nuts (an architect and political scientist pouring their world view into each bike they make), al things I'll share when I get some more time. Right now tough, I'm boarding a plane to Holland. Luvs yas all

Dr. Behooving