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The Great Singapore Escape Plan After New Silk Road Book

Planning on taking the Singapore Escape Plan. Not yet though.

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Singapore Changi Airport, Terminal 1:

Sitting on a cushy sofa chair with my own personal electrical outlet and a small table next to a big window that looks out on a beautiful scene of planes on the tarmac and trees beyond, good WIFI, and I didn’t even have to pay for an overpriced drink for the privilege. “First class” is the only way to describe this airport.

“First class” is the only way to describe Singapore. Over my years of working in Asia, I come through this city-state from time to time. Actually, I come through as often as possible.

I’m finding myself falling into lockstep with the great China –> Singapore migration, which is better known as the Singapore Escape Plan (SEP). This is where people who have been China-based for many years become tired of the horrid air quality, the irritating firewall that enshrouds the internet, the contaminated milk and meat, the heavy metals in the vegetables, the toxins in places and things that you wouldn’t expect toxins to be, and the ever-present thought that they have no idea what the health effect may be from simply living in the place — especially when they have kids — one day just say “fuck it” and move south to Singapore.

Moving to Singapore is a way of accessing what’s good about China without living in China. It’s also just a short, cheap flight from pretty much every major city in that massive country to the north, so it’s still possible to run your operations there and not have to cut ties completely.

Singapore has everything I want in a base of operations: a multi-cultural environment, multiple languages for my daughters to learn, alternative education facilities for my wife, a very open, knowledgeable, aware culture, social settings where it’s easy to meet and talk to people, an interesting landscape of architecture from various periods of time, food from everywhere, beaches, and a location that’s right in the center of the Asian theater with cheap flights to everywhere.

If there could be such a title, Singapore is probably the prized masterpiece of globalization. It razed enough of itself to know the value of historical buildings, it’s mall-ified to the point that there is a vibrant artisan/ small shop revival movement, urbanized to the point that city planners realized the value of public spaces and facilities.

While people who are from there complain that it’s not like what it used to be, it’s a place that seems to have realized what’s good about itself and decided to keep it. You can walk down just about any street, pull up to a corner food court, get a beer or coffee, and sit down and talk with someone. Generally speaking, this is a wealthy, hurry-hurry kind of place, but there always seems to be people sitting around talking with their friends, sipping drinks, and watching people walking by on the streets. I rate places on how easy it is to interact with people, and Singapore is among the highest out of the 57 or so countries that I’ve been to.

But I wasn’t in Singapore this time just to walk around in search of idle chats to blog about; I was there to conduct research for a book that I’m writing on the One Belt One Road (OBOR) or the New Silk Road — which I feel is a more adequate name, being the lesser of two misnomers. I met with a couple of really incredible professors at the National University of Singapore, a rep from a major development firm that is building seaports along the Maritime Silk Road, and DHL once again — which is always a real pleasure — as well as Sean Cross, the great high-tech innovator who, along with Bunny Huang, created the Novena, for another research project.

I said early that I’m at the airport. It’s true, I’m leaving Singapore, bound for Cambodia. Although in a few weeks I should be back. Looking forward to it, as always.

Downtown Singapore

Downtown Singapore



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Filed under: New Silk Road Travel Notes, Singapore, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3722 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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