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Ease into South America in Santiago

•, By Anthony Dennis

By Latin American standards Santiago, the capital of Chile, is perhaps the continent's most civilised, conservative and relatively crime-free capital, with none of the brashness of Buenos Aires or the raffishness of Rio.

Yet Santiago is no urban wimp either and, unlike Singapore, it's not squeaky clean.

It's a winding, jolting drive up Santiago's Cerro San Cristobal, the nearly 900m-high mountain that doubles as Parque Metropolitano, the city's vertical public playground above the city.

The view at the top (which can also be reached by a funicular from the Bellavista neighbourhood) is worth it, even though to experience it is to be simultaneously awed and appalled.
A heavy soiled scarf of brown smog, after all, hangs above the densely packed skyline below, the likes of which would make even other polluted cities around the world gasp

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