Sunday, May 3, 2009

Smoking in the Cactus Garden

Hello Folks,
Sean and I left Singapore EARLY this morning for our flight to Cambodia.  Our flight was at 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning, meaning we had to arrive at the airport around 4:00 a.m., so we didn't even bother going to bed Saturday night.  We only plan to spend about one month here in South East Asia, so we will probably only stay in most cities a few days and we will probably have more flights here than we've had elsewhere in order to maximize time.  There are plenty of things to do in Singapore and I could have easily spent more time there.  Unfortunately, since everything is so expensive, I'd rather spend more time in cities here where my money will go a lot further.  You can't have such an extended vacation if you spend too much time in cities like Singapore.  We still have to return to the city for our flight to Australia, so we'll have another chance to do anything we missed that we really want to do, but I'm fairly content with what I saw and did already.  Besides, for someone who drinks and smokes as much as I do, I would have to give up two of my biggest vices to enjoy Singapore.  It would be different if we were visiting directly from the States, but after months of dollar beers and two-dollar packs of cigarettes, Singapore is a huge shock to my wallet. 
For a country that tries so hard to restrict social behavior and imposes so many rules, I do have to give Singapore credit for one thing.  The airport has one of the most beautiful smoking areas I have ever seen.  Set on a rooftop in a section of the airport, they have a beautiful cactus garden that makes San Diego's cactus garden along Park Ave look like an amateur's backyard project.  Unfortunately, it was still dark outside and a little rainy while I was there so I couldn't check everything out and appreciate all that was on display, but the setting was absolutely wonderful.  Much nicer than the tiny smoking rooms in most airports with yellow walls, bad lighting, zero ventilation and so much smoke you don't even need to light your own cigarette.  Many airports these days don't have smoking areas at all, which is one of the things I don't understand.  People have been smoking for centuries and people are going to continue smoking.  With traveling being such a stressful experience in itself, why is it so unreasonable to have a designated smoking area somewhere in the airport?  It's a small way to accommodate passengers who just disembarked from, or are getting ready to board, an eight or ten-hour flight.  I don't expect non-smokers to have to deal with my smoking habit; I just think it's quite easy to accommodate everyone.  So for a country with all sorts of laws governing behavior, I find it quite surprising and pleasant that Singapore is even more reasonable than most airports in the States when it comes to smoking.
Singapore's COE:
Pack of Cigarettes: $8.00
Domestic Pint at a Bar: $7.50
Domestic Can at a Store: $3.50
McDonalds Combo Meal: $6.00
Note: Most bars do have Happy Hour during the day, usually from about 5-9:00 p.m. where you can get two drinks for the price of one.  This is one of the easiest ways to save money on alcohol.  You can also take the "broke college student" approach and buy a few cheaper beers at the store to get a buzz before going out to the bars. 


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