Monday, 11 January 1999
The concrete jungle of Singapore is not for me, too many rules. Singapore is a fine country. We have fines for everything. Littering is an offence. Chewing gum is banned in the whole country, even eating is regulated.

In two whole of Asia eating is a messy business, except in Singapore. The country lacks the usual hawkers. Eating prohibited, a sign in the Singapore underground In the underground eating is even prohibited. The fine is 500 dollar. If it wasn't for visiting two friends (Resume Rob Hendriks) here, I would have comfortably stayed in Malaysia.

The short trip to Singapore is over already. I haven't seen anybody smile, you'll probably need a special permit. Now it's back to the happy country of the untidy pasar malem (night market), mee soup, sateh ayam (chicken satay) and roti Canai (curry pancake). Singapore's train station is small. It greets you with a warm "Welcome to Malaysia". It has only one trail, leading north.

Malaysian Railways ( runs this train, including the station. Instantly the attitude is relaxed, as if you have crossed the border already. Malaysian customs strengthens that image and does her job here. No stamp in the passport, just a quick computer scan. That was similar on the way in. No hassle, just walk on, board and go.

Malaysians have a flexible attitude towards rules. It is not forbidden to eat, on the contrary. Eating is a right, almost a duty. Have you taken your dinner? is the standard greeting question here. Saying 'Yes' or 'No' does not really matter: While waiting for dinner... Let's eat! A culture after my own heart.

In the meantime the palm trees pass the train window. My stomach rumbles. Of course it is allowed to eat in the train. Please do, that's what the catering is for! The nasi lemak (coconut rice) tastes great, with tea and cake as desert.

My blood is full of tropics, I'll take them all along. The sun shines from my lips, when I sing a song. I feel home again, have to swallow a tear of happiness. No worries lah, I feel fine!

Till next week,