Posted by: rbbadger | January 3, 2009

Back to Korea

Well, yesterday was my last day in Singapore.  Given that my flight was a late one (it left about 10:30 PM), I had a good portion for some final sightseeing and a little shopping.  I tried to stay in air conditioned areas as much as possible, given that it was very humid and I didn’t want to offend my fellow passengers by smelling like gym clothes.  So, I didn’t do so much sightseeing as before.

As I’ve mentioned before, Singapore is a very small country, smaller in total area than Hong Kong and only about three times the size of Washington, D.C.  One thing which I found quite striking was the lack of traffic jams.  Apparently, car ownership in Singapore is very, very expensive.  In order to buy a car, first the car buyer has to obtain a certificate of eligibility, a certificate which can cost as much as a car.  These are auctioned off by the government and as cars are in demand, a COE can end up in the S$30,000 range quite easily.  Then, when it comes time to buy the actual car, there is a registration fee of 110% of the car’s total value.  Plus, there are also tolls on heavily trafficked streets.  Happily, though, the government has built an excellent, reliable, and very efficient public transit system. 

Seoul and Hong Kong have a special airport train which transports you to the airport at high speeds.  Seoul’s only goes as far as Gimpo Airport, but it will be expanded to reach Seoul Station at some point.    Because Singapore is so small, the airport is only about 30 minutes from downtown via the subway.  Thus, I could leave my baggage at the left baggage counter and journey to Orchard Road and get back with time to spare.   I had to take a taxi to the airport as carrying luggage on buses is forbidden.  The taxis aren’t as expensive as they are in many other countries.  They are more expensive than Korean taxis to be sure.  But they are certainly a lot cheaper than say New York or Tokyo

Singapore is also home to one of the shops of the Kinokuniya Bookstore, a major Japanese book chain.  It takes up an entire floor of the Ngee Ann City Mall, a mall so huge that spread out across two separate towers and a large central portion.  Finding books in that utterly vast store is a bit of a challenge, so computer terminals print out maps to guide you.  While there, much to my delight, I found the latest Rumpole novels (happily Sir John Mortimer, CBE, QC is still writing them, even in his 80s).  So, while waiting for my flight, I was able to read about the latest exploits of Rumpole, the Mad Bull (a judge whom Rumpole frequently crosses swords with), and of course She Who Must Be Obeyed.

It is nice to be back all the same.  I had a great time in Singapore, but I don’t think that I could live in the land of constant unending humidity and heat.  Even Hong Kong and Taiwan cool down a bit in winter, though there is never any snow.



  1. We’re glad to know you made it back to Seoul safely and had a good trip! Thanks for sharing your adventures to Singapore with us!

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