27 December 2009

Christmas in Singapore

As initially planned (or tought) we spent our Christmas in Singapore with Ray, a Singaporean traveller who had spent his 2008 Christmas at my place in Geneva. Last year Ray had given us a Trans-Siberian book which we carried back to him by land.

Singapore is a mix of people, there are four official languages - English, Malay, Tamul and Chinese -, corresponded to as many groups of people you find in the street. The organization and cleanness of the streets allow us to breath again after the pedestrian unfriendly Kuala-Lumpur. Unfortunately in Singapore this comes at the expense of lack of freedom of speech and tighly controlled citizens, with cctv cameras everywhere and heavy fines (from 250euros for eating in the metro and up) when you get out of the line (crossing the road less than 50m from pedestrian cross, spitting or litering, cycle the bike where it says you should push, connect the laptop to a plug you find in the metro station, etc). And this fines are enforced as it reports in the newspaper today.

Christmas in Singapore, even if a good part of the population is Christian, is very laic. There is decoration everywhere but much less than in europe; the people do shop but at same time is the sales period and end of the long "summer" holidays, preparing to be back to school. The dozens of shopping centres (even more dense than in Porto, Portugal) are not full of people (or there are not enough people to fill them all).

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