Who goes on a train journey and gets out at the same place he started? When the bearded stranger showed me his ticket I looked at him and told him that if I called the police he’d be arrested. He was shocked, and then polite and contrite. Our Rapid Transit system was marvellous, he said, and travelling on it was a highlight of his short stay in Singapore. Yes, we are indeed proud of our MRT. It opened in 1987 with two train lines, one going North-south and the other East-west around the city. 42 stations (15 underground and 27 overground) and plans to build more lines in the later 1990s and 2000s. Why would we have so many stations if people only get on and off at the same one?
The stations do have attractive and tantalising names, I agreed with him. Lakeside, Chinese Garden, Lavender - and Dover, the same name as a place in England. He could have got out to enjoy the Mon Liew Lake at Lakeside, the Kampong Glam Malay Historic Centre near Lavender, the Reptile Park at Jurong, or Kallang, where the inland location of Beach Road shows how much land reclamation has gone on in Singapore. But no, he had got on at Raffles, in the centre. He had then gone almost all the way east, back to the far west and then back to Raffles. He said he wanted to see as much of our wonderful country as he could. I suppose in many cities no-one would notice this but in Singapore the tickets are valid for a limited period of time and he had exceeded this by over an hour.