Posted by: Gary Guertin | October 23, 2008

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

Hi All,

Today we visited Singapore and what a city. Before I get into photos let me try to draw a word picture of the place. Singapore lies at the southern most tip of Malaysia just 90 miles north of the equator, but is not (I was wrong before) a part of Malaysia, declaring itself an independent country after the British pulled out. It was invaded by the Japanese during WWII, and what was left was a chaotic post-war, post-colonial state. Under the leadership of a Prime Minister called Lee Kuan Yew (Lee is his last name), an economic marvel has taken place. Today the country (one of the 20 smallest in the world) covers about 239 miles, consisting of the large island of Singapore and 63 smaller islands, most of them uninhabited. There are about 4 and ½ million people living in Singapore, the majority (75-80%) Chinese. What is really interesting about Singapore is its cleanliness. They warned us to be very careful about the tough rules locally. If you jaywalk you are fined on the spot. If you litter you are fined $1000.00 Hong Kong Dollars (about 1.4 to the US dollar) for the first offense, and $2000.00 plus corrective work for repeat offenders. Spitting in public places is an offence. Writing on walls is prohibited, and Singapore’s buildings are clean. Media and the internet are scanned for “inappropriate” content. If such content is found, the web site will be blocked, the book or magazine prohibited for sale. Yes, the rules are tough but the Singapore people are proud of their little nation/city and believe me it was a pleasure to ride in a smog free, clean environment for a change, especially in the center of a major city. They say you can walk the streets any time of the day or night without fear because crime hardly exists. Convicted drug traffickers can expect to get the death sentence. Today Singapore is one of the richest nations in the world, a major center of finance for Asia, and a commercial center for many products, such as electronics.

On with the photos, please refer to “Singapore, Republic of Singapore” in the above photos albums and please forgive me if I blow my 10 photo limit again, but there is just to much to show even though we only had a few hours in the city center. As usual the first photo shows the “Welcome to Singapore” sign and the second a shot of the skyline taken from the boat. Susy and I took a taxi into the city center so I show you some of the tall buildings in the third photo and the Opera House in the fourth. As we entered the center the next photo shows the “South Beach” district and the sixth photo shows you the front of the famous “Raffles Hotel” our first destination. The Raffles Hotel is not only a 5 star hotel but it is the home of the Long Bar at which was served the first “Singapore Sling”. The Long Bar was frequented by many famous people including Maugham and Kipling. The first “Singapore Sling” was invented and served in 1915, and it was first made for women, hence its pink/red color, it is now a drink enjoyed by all. On the way to the Long Bar you pass beautiful gardens and courtyards which are in the middle of the various wings of the hotel and one of which you see in the next photo.. The hotel covers an entire city block, and in addition to its many restaurants, etc. has a complete shopping arcade. The eighth photo shows Susy and I sitting at the famous Long Bar. For those of you who may ask what a “Singapore Sling” is made of the next photo shows the receipt (if you can’t read it just focus in and you will see all the ingredients). The next photo shows Susy drinking her Singapore Sling and you will notice a box of peanuts on the table with shells all over. The Long Bar has a sign which says “eat and do not be afraid to throw your peanut shells on the floor because this is the only place in Singapore were it’s legal to litter”. One last photo of the Long Bar shows the unique fans along the ceiling joists. As we departed the Raffles Hotel, wishing we could stay there and have another SS, I show you another one of the large courtyard and lastly Susy with the doorman (if that doesn’t put you back in one of those old movies set in Asia, nothing will). Since we had completed the one thing every visitor should do in Singapore and since we only had a few hours we walked around the hotel area, which is set in the Colonial District. The 14th photo shows Susy walking down a row of shops in this district. We also ran across the central fire station and the next photo shows it’s unique architecture. Taking a taxi back to the boat we passed through Chinatown which is the largest district in the city so I shot a photo out the taxi window. Also you should understand that with the exception of a few “hands off” colonial buildings in a small area, the entire city is in a continual process of tearing down and building up much higher. My last photo shows some of these old homes which the taxi driver said would be torn down very soon because they were occupying space which some new high rise could take. The government controls and plans the growth of the city, and very few are left untouched.

That’s Singapore, another jewel which goes on Susy’s and my list of cities to revisit. The list seems to get longer and longer, but there is no question we want to come back to Singapore and spend several days exploring it in depth.

On to Bali, Indonesia,

Love you All,

Gary (alias Gagu)


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