It’s not by chance that Singapore is an extremely clean and safe country. There’s a long list of laws, fines, and regulations that make it that way. Here’s a small sampling:
- Up to S$1,000 fine for littering. I’ve read that 3rd time offenders have to perform community service wearing a “I am a litter lout” sign, but I haven’t seen this in action.
- Buying and selling chewing gum is illegal. Contrary to popular belief, you CAN chew gum – just don’t toss it on the sidewalk (see above bullet on littering).
- It is illegal to possess firearm shaped cigarette lighters (and actual firearms, too).
- It is illegal to walk around your home nude as it is considered pornography.
- Up to S$500 fine for eating on MRT (Singapore’s subway).
- There is a fine for having standing water on your balcony or in your yard as it can promote the breeding of mosquitos (mozzies here).
Additionally, things that are legal but “sinful” are heavily taxed. The average price for a pint of beer is around S$12 and cigarettes run around S$15 per pack. You think that’s expensive? Don’t even thinking about bringing a carton of cigs in from another country. If customs finds it in your luggage you will be fined S$500 PER PACK. Michael and I are glad we’re not smokers and expect our tolerance for alcohol to have decreased markedly by the time we move to Holland.
With all of this in mind, I was surprised to learn that prostitution is legal in Singapore. This past Saturday Michael and I visited Geylang – Singapore’s “Red Light District”. The neighborhood is divided in half by Geylang Road, with odd numbered lorongs (the Malay word for lane) to the north and even numbered lorongs to the south. You’ll find markets, shops, and restaurants in Chinese style shop houses from the 1800’s along the odd numbered lorongs. The even numbered lorongs are filled with brothels and “hotels”.
The highlight of this outing for me was not the red light district, but the fruit stands dotting the main road, which were mostly selling durian. We’ve yet to sample this exotic fruit that’s loved by many Asians but thought to be quite stinky by most westerners. There were also heaps of other brightly colored local fruits nearly spilling out onto the road. Our dinner at a Beef Kway Teow stand was less than memorable and the even numbered lorongs were more sad than lively in my opinion.
My photos are mainly of the fruit stands and shop houses. It didn’t feel right to take out my camera in the red light district!