[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Friday, December 22, 2006

[The Streets of Saigon]
1. The din of road traffic continued throughout the night right through the wee hours of the morning. Millions of motor cycles and scooters crowd the roads of the city. Although there are terrible accidents every day, the ability of riders and car drivers to avoid colliding into each other was quite amazing to watch. For Singaporeans used to following rules and regulations, crossing even a minor road in Ho Chi Minh City is a stressful experience.

2. The flow of traffic is the lifeblood of the Vietnamese economy. Everyone is rushing somewhere. You can sense the raw vitality of the Vietnamese eager to make up for lost time. The tour guide said, quite merrily, that everything is capitalist now, and everything has to be paid for.

3. Everywhere we went, we met Singaporeans. Many were on group tours and happy to greet us. At the roadside pasar malam, we took photographs. A poor old lady who was selling fruits shooed us away when we stood too long posing in front of her baskets. Fake goods were easily available at ridiculously low prices.

4. Singaporeans feel rich shopping in places like Vietnam. At the hawker stall, a generous bowl of pho (rice noodles) costs one Sing dollar. As Lim Swee Say said, it is best to spend money earned in Singapore outside Singapore. The cost of living in Singapore is relatively higher principally because our labour and land costs are higher. If the opposite were the case, if our labour and land costs were low, then we would be doing not well, but badly. Because economic growth has benefited the majority of Singaporeans, we travel overseas in large numbers. I marvel at the amount of money our tourists spend overseas. At the dinner on board a cruise boat, almost all the diners were Singaporean.

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