123. PASSAGES. Singapore. A chance meeting with this city state left me enthralled, probably because it is so unique that it doesn’t fit into the ready-made patterns that one begins to see everywhere after years of travel. One of the most interesting things about Singapore is their “national core value” of meritocracy, a policy that aims to reward the “hardworking and deserving” with upward social mobility regardless of the stratum into which one is born. My gut feeling on the street there was that they were among the most cheerful people I have ever spent time with, and their hospitality toward strangers was remarkable. Interesting place.