Singapore is much more expensive than Bali and the driver of every taxi we've hired complains bitterly about the cost of living. "Ten years ago, Singapore was ok," said one. "Now you cannot." While he was driving us to the hotel, he got a phone call to tell him of his daughter's A-level results. He was very proud although he tried not to show it. I'd be over the moon if Nathan or Noemi got five A's and a B like his daughter did. Another driver lamented that old people here have to work, literally until they die, eating bread every day because they can't afford anything else. We got talking about the justice system and he confided in me, with some regret I might add, that if you touched a woman's arm in Singapore you could get caned. And then thrown in prison to cool off your backside. I suspect he was more unhappy about that than the prospect of having to carry on working in his old age.
But Singapore is great for shopping and the kids had been looking forward to this part of their holiday with undisguised glee. My cunning plan was to take them late at night to a 24 hour mall in Little India, in the hope that they'd be exhausted and wouldn't keep asking, "Daddy, can we buy this?" or "Daddy, can we buy that?" It was a wonderful ruse that backfired horribly in practice. I ended up the exhausted one with my wallet a lot lighter than when we set out. I remembered what the wise Chinese taxi driver had said to me earlier in the evening. "Ten years ago, Singapore was ok. Now, I cannot."