I had already been to Singapore once during a backpacking Round The World trip that lasted fifteen months and saw me working in San Francisco, visiting a friend in Sydney and catching various respiratory diseases in New Delhi. At the time, it was the mix of cultures that I liked the best in the city-state, but when I returned, seventeen years later, on my way to Australia and New Zealand, it was the transformation into a world city that I found fascinating. This was an exotic culture, but its British colonial background and the slow seep of Western thinking through the global marketplace (which is also one of ideas) made it a lot more approachable and comprehensible. Although I spent thirteen weeks travelling in New Zealand aiming to write a book about the country, it was my days in Singapore that kept inspiring me to jot down my thoughts and transcribe my journals when I came back. In the end, I gave up and returned two years later to finish the book that had emerged, published again by Summersdale. As it was commissioned from the beginning at 70,000 words, nothing was cut. As a result, I think it kept its cohesion better.
As that trip to Singapore en route to the South Pacific had been marred by having my arm in a sling, I thought it would make a fitting metaphor for a tourist’s blinkered view of a different culture. And if you are in any doubt that it happened as I tell it, here is the picture to prove it.
Singapore Sling also made it in the Lonely Planet’s Recommended Reading for travellers to Singapore and once again, I am very grateful for that.
Because of confused and untraceable copyright, I couldn’t include two poems I wanted to in the book. So here they are:
The Corporal and His Pal
The Singapore Swing(alias Bencoolen Street Blues)
Right on my man!
What a fantastic read! This is the first I’m reading about the race riots or how modern Singapore was founded in the 1960s. These events were too recent to be included into the history curriculum.
PS. Are Dan and Jackie real characters?
Many thanks, glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Yes, everyone in the book (as in all my books) is a real character, although I sometimes change their first name. They all read and approved their stories, and I met them all again after the book’s release, last time I went to Singapore. I had the best time with the Singapore Paranormal Investigators, as usual.
I loved your book the first time I read it, given me as a gift soon after I moved with my family to Singapore. And I am enjoying it again now, having returned to the UK; it is bringing back happy memories and the happy confusions and subtle mysteries, surprises and frustrations that make Singapore so fascinating. Your book tells a truth about the place which most others miss: it remains one of just two or three books I recommend to friends who want to know more about the little red dot. I hope you are still visiting.
Many thanks, Singapom. Let me know if you find a proper Singapore Sling in London.
I have recently moved to Singapore and wanted to learn more about the country. I bought your book and just finished it. I absolutely loved it. I wanted to congratulate you for a fun, insightful and very, very intelligent book! I particularly enjoyed how well you approached Singapore’s political/social conundrums (freedom vs effective government/social rest) and how Singapore’s recent history can teach other countries how to solve the problems they face.
I have just also bought your other books as I think I will really enjoy them!
Any plans for a new book?
Hi George, thanks for your lovely comments and glad you liked the book. No plans at the moment for another, because my guidebook commitments leave little time. You may be interested to know that I have written about two-thirds of the Michelin Singapore Green Guide (including the History and Nature sections). Otherwise Like my Page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and read about my travels and my new articles from there..