Magun's Compass
Learn from the Travel Experiences of Others


Adequately covered in the travel sections of the week-end qualities, and other leisure magazines, Singapore is a popular stop-over for flights from Europe to Australia.

Thousands of words have been written about this duty-free shopping-centre, and its sights have already been seen by many. Evelyn Waugh had similar problems in his labeled cities of Naples, Venice, Istanbul, and others on his Mediterranean voyage.

Dear Reader,
One notices the differences first; after being directly transported from the last port of call:

Japanese hardware everywhere.


A base, in such a place, is the first priority. Serious travellers look for the cheapest...


"Wah you wahn?" the old lady at the budget barracks asks in rapid tones.

There's the first impression; a lack of unruly touting. No one tries to carry your bags, find you transport, or offer to show you their velly clin rorms.

"Nor!" she barks. "Nor rorm," and returns to her work in the kitchen.

The blond foreigner is not of any interest here; even the cyclos wait in their sidecars for customers to approach them. Like British taxi-drivers at a rural railway-station, they talk to each other, or take a nap.

Old buildings are pulled out of the environment like bad teeth. Amid the neck-craning, tinted-glass structures in Raffles Place, a decaying building, with greenery sprouting from broken walls, spoils the overall facade like a rotting canine in a supermodel's pearly smile. It has to go!

Chicly clothed Chinese wait for old-style buses. Hardly anyone wears shorts, except the patient riders of the cyclo-taxis. Unlike, Indonesia, where the locals use the pedal-power, the cyclos in Singapore are mainly for tourists.

At night, especially, convoys of eight to twelve Japanese or elderly Americans, parade around the Beach Road district; the riders ring their bells to display a sense of occasion.

One thing missing in the towering-modern-triumph-in-the-tropics of Lee Kuan Yew's, is the genuine smile; the Hallo Mista giggles from the children of a struggling people. The youth here wear European labels, and throw away half-eaten Big Macs. Those with materially more, share spiritually less.

A ride on the Mass Rapid Transport system, to the western suburbs, shows just how the citizens of sterile Singapore have to live; crammed into identical concrete blocks, individual only by giant number, visible for miles.

It seems as though they are serving a sentence for spitting. Washing hangs out on long bamboo poles, and the noise from cramped quarters is not unlike that from battery-hens. In Singapore, they are cooped up, but the streets are clean.

Asia Index

Nomadic Gatherings - Travels in Asia and Australia

Travel on trains and buses in Asia, then jump into cars with complete strangers in Australia and New Zealand as Michel introduces you to a collection of characters that bring Nomadic Gatherings to life.

If you can't afford to buy a copy of Nomadic Gatherings, the chapters are slowly being made available online - for free.

You may even decide that it really is worth having a hard copy in your hands; a useful read for those long bus journeys being written about, and for endless waits at ferry ports.

Nomadic Gatherings - Online Chapters.

Find out more about Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, The Middle East, and The Americas.
Magun's Compass

Originally Hosted on Geocities - in 1996

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