Friday, 14 August 2015

© Exploring Singapore!

            A few weeks ago travels took me through Singapore. A nation consisting of 63 islands, the main hub about the same size as the one lived in the Bahamas. No comparisons with this Asian hub to an island near the Caribbean. Singapore is a manicured financial centre. They boast a city around a garden which is an accurate description. Lying off the Malay Peninsular as one approaches from the air the sight of vast shipping lanes becomes very apparent. Hundreds if not thousands of commercial tankers and container ships lie in the opaque waters of Singapore Harbour.  (*NB: if you see a photo you admire, by all means click on to see an enlarged version to be dragged on to your desktop to keep!)


Commerce is the heart of this metropolis. Towering skyscrapers reach high above the city with a waterway threading its way through the centre. Old blends nicely with new.

Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Thomas Raffles as a trading post of the East India Company. The British obtained sovereignty in 1824 and became independent from the UK in 1963. It became one of the worlds major commercial centres with the 4th largest financial centre and top two busiest container ports with a population of over 5 million people compared to my island residence of years past with Nassau having under 200,000 people!

The city is very ethnically diverse with Chinese Singaporeans taking over 70% of the populace along with the remainder of Malays, Indians and Eurasians. Singapore is a parliamentary republic with a Westminster system of parliamentary government representing constituencies and legal system based on English Common Law, as with the Bahamas. Its military considered one of the most technologically advanced in southeast Asia.

Singapore architecture is as varied as any modern city. Huge buildings of glass and steel reach for the sky with expansion a commonplace sight. The city boasts of its cleanliness and safety to walk anywhere, any time.

Over 10% of the land has been set aside for nature. In the centre are the world famous Singapore Botanical gardens hosting over 10,000 species. Over 156 years old, the Tropical Garden is considered a World Heritage Site. The original garden founded by the agro-horticultural society where the rubber trees were cultivated and researched. The first seedlings coming from Kew Gardens in 1877. Even during Japanese occupation in the 2nd World War the gardens were protected from looting by a professor from the Tohoku Imperial University. The Orchid Garden has a collection of over 1200 species and 2000 hybrids. The gardens receive over 4.5 million visitors each year with no fees to enter!

Singapore diversity is displayed clearly from shopping along busy Orchard Road with miles of modern global trade-name megastores to exploring the local markets of Bugis Street. Orchard Road could find one's self thinking you are in parts of New York, Tokyo or Los Angeles.

Bugis Street is Asia through and through. Fascinating local cuisine to clothing, temples, mosques, jewellery, photographic equipment; every commodity one could imagine is found within these walkways. Local life here has colour and a vibrancy in every step you take.

As one makes your way through the busy narrow markets ones senses are bombarded with sound, movement with sights and aromas of cooking foods. Everyone is incredibly polite and has a smile for the complete stranger.

The locals do not mind sharing their entertainment on the street. Checkers, chess, dominos and backgammon always a popular timepiece.

With evening approaching the lights shine bright and the streets take on another dazzling dimension. Prayers are offered in the mosque's and temples where visitors are welcome to experience the ceremonies. The food is served on every corner and darkness befalls the cosmopolitan city forming an interesting backdrop to the traditional Asia.

We leave Singapore in the morning knowing we leave so much more behind to explore. Now its on to Bali ....

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