Some impressions, based on two trips to Singapore in three years:
It is sparkling, well-manicured. Some guidebooks complain it is not "exotic enough." Maybe, but if you want Asian mystique, try Hong Kong and Bangkok.
As a mosaic of cultures-Chinese, Malay, Indian-and religions, Singapore seems to display a healthy mutual tolerance.
My Singaporean friends are open and generous, showing no hint of a "Big Brother" looking over their shoulders. In fact, the police do not seem overly evident.
The commercial/shopping district along tree-lined Orchard Road and its major tributary, Scotts Road, is the most aesthetically attractive I have ever seen. And the variety in the granite vertical shopping malls is impressive, including Esprit, Guess?, Benetton, Chanel, Dior and even Kmart and Toys 'R' Us.
As much as I enjoy Singapore it's impossible to separate its accomplishments from the methods used to achieve them. An inescapable question: To be clean, graffiti-free and drug-free (ostensibly), must one also have a government that limits freedoms to the degree that Singapore's does?
So I'm unrealistic, but I'd like to have my cake and eat it too.
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