Singapore is like a teenager, struggling to find its own way. After 40 years of independence from the British, it's still trying to decide what to be. A small island, surrounded by over 50 small islands, it struggles under draconian rules. If you try and import chewing gum for re-sale, the fine is $50,000. Drop litter, jay-walk and dozens of other petty laws carry heavy fines or forced labour jobs cleaning the streets wearing "convict" clothes. 4 million people need more space so land-reclamation, using rocks and soil imported from Indonesia, is ongoing. They have even narrowed the Singapore river to create more roads. No wonder the Singaporeans drive over the bridge to Malaysia for "sin and shopping". It is also a city of contrasts, Chinatown, Little India, Arab Street, and then Orchard Road, Mecca for designer clothes at designer prices, housing prices of over $800.000 for a small condo, cars at $100.000, street markets with knock-off label goods, shop houses, two-story buildings with stores below and accommodations above, edge to edge with over 150 high-rise buildings housing the head offices of international banks. During my four-day stay, I hardly could get a feel of what Singapore is all about. I did get to go to Raffles and have a Singapore Sling at the long bar, mostly unchanged since the days of Noel Coward and Earnest Hemmingway. although I could not reconcile it with the reggae band playing Bob Marley songs and the floor covered in peanut shells, it was an interesting experience! Now I am back in Chaing Mai and it feels like coming home. More on that later. Barbara