Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Winter Escape 2012: Singapore

We landed at Singapore Airport to be greeted by Patrick (S.Y.) a friend of ours from our student days(late '60s) in London, England. We stayed up till the wee hours of the morning renewing our friendship and reminiscing about past friends and acquaintances.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel in the background 

The next day we explored the city on foot and on our own. We discovered a significant number of tell-tale signs of the by-gone era of British architectural designs of a number of buildings and many street signs bearing the names of past British dignitaries. The shopping malls are just like any other mall in North America. I was surprised to see the famous British Marks & Spencer store in one of the malls.

Amidst Orchid Heaven 

On the city bus tour, we visited the Sky Park Hotel and Convention Centre, Chinatown--with its temples and Little India. On our way to the National Orchid Garden we saw the density of the housing from public housing to millionaires' row.

While on the city tour, the Tour Guide clearly indicated that Singapore embraces diversity and each ethnic group is treated equally. The three dominant groups are Chinese, Indian and Malay. It was evident that the people of Singapore are very friendly, approachable and provide excellent service in the restaurants and stores. In the evenings Patrick (S.Y.) entertained us at his favourite restaurants which were delightful gastronomical experiences for us. We did a two-day stop-over in Singapore en route to Melaka, Malaysia.
Architectural bewilderment that is Singapore 

Reflections on Singapore: Every local person we interacted with spoke English and hence it was easy to get around the city. The shopping appears very reasonable. We did follow the locals as they jay-walked the streets; it is a clean and densely populated city. Singapore is a democratic country that appears to be run as a benevolent dictatorship. Apparently the politicians are very highly paid. The Singaporeans are a content people.

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