Archive for Singapore and Journal
After living and working in Cambodia for eighteen months and travelling through Laos and much of the rest of South East Asia, Singapore came as a bit of a culture shock. Modern Singapore was a revelation of the entrepreneurial possibilities of this part of the world. Clearly much more affluent, the city seemed spotlessly clean, well organised, and probably a bit too regulated for our tastes. Maybe a bit antiseptic. Having said that we did enjoy our visit and we lived up to the flashy image of Singapore. For instance instead of staying in culturally interesting guest houses, local hotels and beach retreats we did a deal with Marriott and luxuriated in one of their inner city chrome and glass palaces. Fluffy towels, flat screen TVs and free apples were the order of the day. That and constant interruptions to polish the content of the mini bar, turn down the beds, and restock the fruit bowl.
Being tourists we did the tourist thing. Lunch at Raffles Hotel was excellent and actually remarkably good value for money. Having walked over the Bridge on the River Kwai and visited the war graves cemetery at Kanchanaburi in Thailand the second world war history of Singapore was more poignant for us. So strolling through the colonial past of Singapore made a definite impact.
We rubbed shoulders with the wheelers and dealers in the Central Business District having power breakfasts then travelled on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, the underground, to Orchard Road. All the glitzy shops you’d expect were there. Chinatown probably reflected the way things are going in China and elsewhere in this region. The ancient Chinese culture is still represented in Heritage Centres but modern commercial pressures seem to displace the quaint, colourful and interesting. Little India also appeared sanitised. That’s progress.
The place the locals urged us to experience was Sentosa. The playground of the city. Here on the southerly tip of Singapore there are attractions like the big modern aquarium, sound and light history of Singapore and the Dolphin Lagoon. As recommended we took the swaying high level cable car from a hill in the city, literally through a sky scraper to descend to Sentosa at sea level. After a strenuous day of watching dolphins leap acrobatically through hoops we had a nice walk along the beach before taking a monorail back to the city for Singapore Slings in the hotel lounge.