Arriving in Singapore was great, apart from the lengthy customs clearance. After the overcrowded bustle of Vietnam with its poverty, decay, masses of scooters and pollution it was quite a contrast to arrive in a city that was clean, well-organised, well looked after and so full of interest. The MRT was cheap and provided the means to explore Little India, China Town, the Arab quarters and the Marina bay area with its fantastic super trees and modern architecture juxtaposed with the old colonial buildings. They’ve done a great job. It is an amazing city that we wouldn’t mind going back to. We cable carred, trained, bussed, walked, boated, ate, drank and saw the sights!
It is obvious that huge amounts of money have been poured into Singapore. It is a complete contrast to most of the rest of Asia and Indonesia. One is left with the impression that unless the overpopulation problem is solved soon something drastic will happen – the collapse of the ecology of the area? A virus pandemic? Mass starvation? There’s a tipping point. Something bad is about to go off. But Singapore appears immune. The modern buildings and infrastructure nicely complement the old. The underground takes away a lot of the traffic and it seems almost serene. It seemed like a modern city not suffering stress and decay.
First stop was Little India with its shops of spices and trinkets, flowers and tourist goods (including a gruesome pile of dried lizards, fish and other exotic creatures – killed for tourists), peacock statues and brightly coloured housing and shops. The gaily decorated Hindu temples, which were in the midst of ceremonial celebrations, with their flowers, ceramic gods, paintings, offerings, foods and smells were a delight on the eye. The women in their brightly coloured saris and a street sculpture of equally bright parasols provided a real splash. The cows and half naked priests harked back to ancient times as the throngs flocked to worship.
Then it was the Arab sector with its mosque and another set of worshippers in different garb and different customs but equally adamant that their book and ways are the only way; the true word of god – whatever he may be.
I did not concern myself too much with the esoterics of fictional deities but focussed on the art and architecture, which was sumptuous, before searching for the blue cheese flavour ice-cream I had enjoyed on my last visit. Like god it was nowhere to be found.
Next stop was the Buddhist Temple which supposedly had a fang from Buddha as an artefact. Something to get your teeth into. It was also full of worshippers in yet another set of garb, incense, chanting and idols, but at least there were no gods here.
We made our way over to the Marina Bay and the hotel that is a ship on three towers with the amazing array of surreal sci-fi Eco Trees.
They round the bay past the Lion spouting water to the centre and the dock area with its conjunction of old colonial and new. Never has such a marriage worked so well. Night was falling and we settled at a table overlooking the water to partake of beer and crab – an ideal combination.
Then it was back to Marina Bay for a sight of the Eco Trees performing as they danced with their light show!
The next day we boarded the cable car up to the top of the hill, for a view over the surrounding area, and then over to Sentosa Island with its funfair, artificial beaches and tropical forest with a backdrop of ships queuing up for the container port! On the second cable-car ride we went straight over our ship!
By the time we got back a storm was coming through. The sky darkened menacingly and warm rain splashed down in great globs. It created quite a scene as we pulled away. We were leaving a great city. We loved it.
Next stop Kuala Lumpur.