Singapore – a “fine” city

Frank and I were riding the subway on our first full day in Singapore. It was hot. I took a drink of my water bottle. A guy nudged Frank and whispered, “She could get fined for doing that.” He pointed to a sign we hadn’t noticed:


No eating or drinking. Fine $500. Yikes. I quickly shoved the bottle back in my bag.

No smoking. Fine $1000. No flammable goods. Fine $5000. No durians? (Wait. What? We’ll talk about that later). Thankfully, I wasn’t fined when I got off at our stop, although I have to admit I was a little worried!

That same day, we saw this shirt . . .


We chuckled and then we understood. To live and get along in Singapore, you have to follow the rules. And that’s OK. It’s why the subways and trains are immaculate. It is why there is no litter in the streets. It’s why we never got gum on our shoes (!).

Now, about those durians . . .


Durians are a fruit and they stink. We’d catch a whiff when we’d walk past a stand. The fruit can be eaten raw or made into baked goods, popsicles and candy. People either love them or hate them. But that stench . . .

According to travel writer Richard Sterling, “Its odor is best described as . . . turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away.”

Anthony Bourdain calls them “indescribable . . . Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.” Alrighty then.

To make matters worse, we were told that that smell sticks to anyone or anything nearby. So, therefore, my friends, no durians on the Singapore subway. And no durians for us. And that’s fine with me.


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