Orchard road is Singapore’s main shopping street, but it’s unimpressive. The nearby Fort Canning Park is quite pleasant though, although the fort is curiously absent except for one remaining gate, and the little lake is fenced in and hidden, with big red no-trespassing signs showing a policeman pointing a rifle at a stick figure with its hands up. You can see these signs elsewhere too, welcome to Singapore but stay where you are.

Chinatown is divided into a busy modern main road and an old pedestrian area with narrow alleys crowded by small shops and restaurants, with low old buildings. It’s odd to see how the vertical modern Singapore alternates with old two-story buildings. At a wide section of the Singapore River, the low buildings between the riverfront and the highrise office towers in the background look like flotsam. The bank towers are here because it’s a particularly auspicious place and good omens are hard to come by these days in the banking business.

At the Marina Bay is the Merlion, a statue of a fish with a lion’s head spouting yellowish water, and across the river are the Esplanade theaters, with the main building looking like a crash-landed spiky Durian.

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