Today was a marvellous day exploring Singapore. Anjuli had booked a taxi ride for us. The driver is also a tour guide and he took Paul and I around. Our driver was Danny. He took us to so many interesting places, this may be another long blog.
We first went to the relatively new marina development. This is a barrage designed to keep fresh water in the bay. Currently, Singapore gets most of its water from Malaysia to the north, so they are trying to be more self sufficient. The population is c5M and much of the expansion is done by land reclamation of which this development is an example.
It has the bay with its massive harbour to one side and the city behind. Then, as we drove on, Danny was very willing to engage in open conversation about all sorts of subjects: his family, housing rights in the City, gay marriage, water conservation, national service, religion, and much more. It was very special to be on a 1-2-1 situation with a guide and scratch the surface of his commentary on the City sights. Next we went to the Indian quarter. We visited a Hindu Temple, of which there are many.
We also stopped at one of the Tamil restaurants so that Paul could but some food to take back to Vaz, who is Tamil Indian by background.
Next stop was to pass through the Chinese quarter, and then on for a stroll through the Arab quarter where we also visited the Malaysian Heritage Centre. We stopped for a coffee, and I had an Arab coffee locally renowned. It was a bit sweet for me.
The differences in feel and architecture in these areas was fascinating. In London there are many such communities who group together, but they live in, broadly, Victorian architecture, and the shop fronts alone give away the heritage of the local community. Here, as a much newer city, the architecture changes too.
From here we went up Mount Faber, the highest point in the City, to take in the amazing view and the gardens with exotic local flowers.
It was time for some lunch so he took us to a local Mall and Hawker Centre. Each local community in the City is well served with local shops and hawkers. The Hawker centres are food halls with loads of small stalls each serving a different local or traditional dish from their home countries. He recommended some food. We had rice with soy sauce and carrot cake. Carrot cake means something very different here. It is a sort of vegetable omelette and quite spicy!
He then drove us down to the river where our trip with him ended. He had been really great.
I then took a boat trip down the river and round the harbour.
We passed many of the iconic buildings of the City. The three towers with a ‘boat’ on top are a huge hotel complex which includes an open area across the top with infinity pool and leisure facilities. The lotus shaped building is the Art/Science Museum. The space ship is in fact the Supreme Court. The Merlion stature is a symbol of Singapore, part lion and part mermaid.
For the second half of the boat trip I was the only person onboard and had a long chat to Abdul, who kindly told me about his life here in Singapore.
I disembarked and met Paul and we returned home, wiser and ready for a rest!
One other picture reminded me of my daughter-in-law.
Singapore has been a wonderful experience. I am so grateful to Anjuli and James, Paul and Vaz, for their planning and their kindness in hosting me. Tomorrow is another travel day as I head towards Dubai, so a shorter report tomorrow evening.
There is talk about what we can do in the morning before I get a taxi at 12 noon to go to the airport, so it may be longer. Wait and see.