Good afternoon to all you wonderful people…
As I write this, I believe it is Wednesday, the 20th of November… we lost a day from Vancouver to Singapore, so I am still a bit unsure of days. The 13-hour plane ride to the Philippines, our change-over spot, was quite uneventful… they fed us a lot and we seemed to be awoken every few hours with some water, food, what have you. Our take off was an hour late, so when we arrived, our connector flight was leaving. Don’s tripadvisor comment about that will give you the idea of how we were treated… abandoned was the word of the day. We managed to eventually get on a flight to Singapore a few hours later, so all was well.
The transit system in Singapore is exceptional, quite inexpensive… we could travel for an hour on the MRT (rapid transit train) for about $2… way better than Vancouver. They have lots of buses and again very reasonable… Vancouver could learn a thing or two.
We did the hop on hop off bus on Monday so we could get a lay of the land and where interesting sites are. Don was really surprised to see that the Marina Bay Sands Hotel was not a figment of someone’s imagination (he had seen a model of this hotel at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibition “The Grand Hotel”). The Marina Bay Sands is actually three 55-storey towers and sitting on top is a massive curved ocean liner with an outdoor swimming pool where people feel like they could swim off into the air, quite a few restaurants and lounges and a great viewing area on the “56th floor”. That is where we spent about an hour enjoying the incredible view of the city, including the very creative engineering.
We also spent a few hours in the National Museum, where we partook in a guided tour by one of the Museum’s volunteers. It was a great history lesson. One of the many things we learned was that when the Japanese attacked Singapore, they were brilliant in their strategy… the advance ground force travelled quietly through Malaya (Malaysia was called that at the time) on bicycles and travelled over the connecting bridge and started killing people… especially the Chinese that lived there, as they blamed Singapore for backing the Chinese in the Japanese invasion of China years earlier. Over the 2 week period they killed between 5,000 and 50,000 people… no one really knows. They only stopped the killing when the people of Singapore paid a ransom of 50,000,000 dollars to Japan. Three years later, when the Japanese were no longer in control of Singapore, the only demand of the Singapore people was that Japan pay the 50 million back. Japan and Singapore have a good relationship now and hopefully all will be well for years to come.
We also learned that Malay is the official language of Singapore. We had thought it was English, the language of business and commerce (and tourism). All signs in the country are in four languages… Malay, English, Chinese, and Tamil. Of the 600 languages in India, Tamil was chosen as it was the language of the early immigrants from India.
They honour one particular doctor who helped out with the basics of life… hygiene. Prior to his involvement, people would urinate and defecate in the same river water they would drink. It was not healthy… so when he came back from Europe, fully trained, he brought to Singapore the concept of the bed pan. Every day, a truck would come around and the contents of the bedpan would be dropped into the truck… it was then delivered as manure to a section of town that they renamed “Lavender” as it smelled so bad there, they thought the name might help. There is an MRT stop at Lavender.
We caught the MRT to the last stop east, way past the airport, to walk in the ocean. We heard there were great beaches and parks. When we got there, the beaches were small and at that time… around 2:30pm, there was almost no one around except the grounds keepers, which were many.
We took off our shoes and walked in the water and then sat on some rocks to let our feet dry. We then spotted a sign that said no swimming… oops.
Talking about signs… please take a look at the pictures we have posted. This is the most directive city we have ever been in. Most signs are about behaviour… “94% of people say they would give their seat on the bus to a person in need…”, “Be considerate of others”. or just “No (swimming, camping, etc)”..
A last comment… the people here do not act very happy (maybe it’s all the signs!). Not much laughter either. Given that observation I smiled at a few people… and they smiled back. So maybe they’re just very reserved.
Till next time… have much fun, smile and laugh… it is good for you.
Love and happiness,