Sing a Song of Singapore

Singapore is the fourth-largest financial center in the world. It ranks as one of the five busiest ports. Singapore ranks high in standard of living, education, health care, and economic competitiveness. It has one of the highest per capita incomes and one of the longest life expectancies in the world.

A trip to Singapore should be on your itinerary, but before you plan your visit, you would be wise to learn their customs and laws.

A sticky situation
One of the nastiest things to step into is a wad of gum. To avoid this problem, Singapore made gum illegal. The only gum allowed is prescription gum, so if you are chewing nicotine gum, you better be ready to show that prescription. Otherwise you can be fined up to $500.

Up in smoke
If that “gum ban” has you craving a cigarette, forget that. too. Their “smoking in public’ ban is quite strict. But it seems smoking is more tolerable than gum chewing. The fine for lighting up a cigarette is only $200.

You can trash this idea
By now you are probably trying to get rid of the evidence that you are chewing gum or smoking a cigarette. Whatever you do, don’t get caught tossing (or spitting) the evidence on the ground. Littering comes with a fine of $1,000 and possibly some community service emptying garbage cans.

Jiggle the Handle!
Believe it or not, there are people who check public bathrooms for unflushed toilets. If you are caught NOT flushing, you could be slapped with a $150 fine. If you must, jiggle the handle.

Don’t Call A Taxi
This advice assumes you are already out $1,850 in fines due to the indiscretions described above. Taxis are a bit pricey in Singapore, so to hold on to those few dollars you have left,. Instead, buy a Singapore Tourist Pass for the MRT (mass rapid transit) system. You can rest assured that you won’t have to worry about stepping on gum or inhaling anyone’s smoke. You also don’t need to worry about anyone spilling a drink on you. Food and drink are forbidden on the train. Fines can be up to $500.

Here’s Another Tip
Actually its not a tip, or better worded, don’t tip. You are not expected to tip,so why tip?

Thinking of Leaving Your Mark?
If you spray graffiti or carve your name on a park bench you could become the center of attention, in the form of a public caning. That’s right,  an old-fashion spanking. Foreigners are not exempt, in 1994 an American teenager got 4 whacks for defacing a car. In 2010, a man from Switzerland got three whacks and five months in jail for spray-painting a train.

Cover up
About the only time being naked is allowed in Singapore, is while you are showering. Otherwise its considered pornography. Hang the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door, make sure it’s locked, and close the curtains tight before you get undressed for your shower. Offenders pay a $2000 fine or spend up to 3 months in jail.

Highest price to pay
If you plan to tour the world, don’t make Singapore the next spot after Peru. That country has very lax drug laws, and maybe you experimented just a bit. If you arrive in Singapore high as a kite, it could mean serious trouble. A death sentence is not unheard of, even for foreigners.

It seems like Singapore might be a bad place to visit with all these laws. But in reality it is one of the cleanest, safest places in the world. If you can follow the rules, you will love it.

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