Just over the Straight of Johor at the tip of the Malaysian Peninsular, is Singapore. Five million people, 2 million foreign born and the 3rd highest per capita income (though also one of the largest disparities…).
Surprise surprise. Former British Empire. The country was founded in 1819 as a trading post for the East India Company by John Stamford Raffles.
War. Japanese. Chinese Massacred…
In 1963 Singapore was made independent and joined Malaysia. This union only lasted 2 years before Singapore was ‘expelled’. This was the result of heavily Malay focused policies which frustrated the substantial Chinese and Indian Singaporeans.
The country has grown into an economic powerhouse to rival Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpa. My first impressions are of a less brash Dubai. Kylie (Irish girl I met in Bali) and I set off on foot to explore Chinatown (Sweet and Sour Pork – 9/10) and traverse the city to Arab Street and Little India. We pass through the Central Business District which is close to a carbon copy of Canary Wharf, both in lay out and corporations.
Heat and humidity define the day. Condensation drips down the OUTSIDE of air conditioned buildings and at nighttime the lights of traffic blur in the steamy haze.
Plastered all over the city are campaigns aimed at politeness. ‘Move along Mary’ invites you to fill the aisles on public transport, ‘Stand up Simon’ to give your seat up for others…etc etc.
Through a happy fluke of changed flights, I’m in Singapore at the same time as Rob and Amy. There is no way they are escaping, so I tag along on a $150 Champagne Brunch Buffet with their lovely hosts (Robs former boss from RBS, his wife and their tiny offspring).
We tumble out onto the street after many a champagne and gin meringues (and ribs, sashimi, sausages, lobster, crab, risotto, duck…) and make a beeline for Settlers Cafe. Pretty much designed for Amy, they have over 600 board games and free flowing sodas. The walls are opaque glass for pictionary sprawlings and score keeping. Kylie joins and after 3 hours of gaming heaven we are burnt out and trundle home.
My Singapore fling is over. Avoiding militancy over museums, galleries and miscellaneous other, it was gloriously relaxing. Getting to prod two familiar faces was a winning perk.
To Myanmar (Burma)! My Final Destination. How time flies…and so must I.