A bustling street in
Chinatown where the market stalls crowd in front of the original
shops. You can buy just about anything there.
We spent a
morning walking the Singapore Quays where, once upon a time, the old
sailing boats would tie up with their cargoes of tea, spices, silks and
goods from Europe and the Far East. The modern city celebrates its varied
past with groups of beautiful life-size bronze statues depicting scenes of
everyday life throughout their history.
We took a ride on a
bum-boat along the river. That amazing building below is Singapore's
theatre and concert complex, known affectionately to its citizens as the
"Durian". A durian is a large nobbly fruit much loved by the peoples of
the Far East; I personally think it smells like a strong gas leak, and
hotels have been known to put up signs reading "No dogs or durians!"
A visit to the Haw Pah
Villa is an absolute must. It is a typical Chinese merchant's house
of the 19th century and was owned by the two brothers who invented Tiger
Balm, still a major best seller for aches, pains, sniffles and just about
anything you might have wrong with you today. The gardens have been turned
into a show-piece of Chinese legends and history.
The cruising life does not
offer the body much exercise,and Singapore was much too hot and humid to
do much walking. The climate is really its only drawback as a place
to live. I spent a good hour a day using my Aqua belt and running in
the Raffles Marina swimming pool, particularly in the early morning.
We decided to leave Carelbi
in Singapore at Raffles Marina, knowing that we had a good friend called
Hung Tatt (HT) who could keep an eye on her from time to time while we
returned to France for Christmas. HT, and his lovely wife, Pauline were
great hosts and we loved Singapore. Good public transport, clean
modern city, wonderful food and superb museums! Chris and HT are looking
at a model of the city, which, although it houses around
20 million people in the tiny island space available, has a spacious
feel with plenty of parks and wide streets.
Sir Stamford Raffles, the original big daddy of Singapore
Above you can see peasants bringing produce from the countryside
while merchants haggle over the price, while, on the left you can see
the old-style money changers, and a modern forex trader.
In this group above,
merchants are bartering while my favourite scene is this gaggle of
little boys jumping into the water; their joie de vivre is infectious and
one really wants to jump in and join them!
The Chinese love bright colours and this is one of the bridges
leading through to Chinatown. The "Mer-lion" is another example of the
Singaporean sense of humour, welcoming visitors entering the quays
from the harbour.
The imposing entrance to Haw Pah Villa.
Our favourite show item was this wonderful old Rolls Royce which the
"marketing" brother had converted into a tiger and in which he toured
around selling his balm to all and sundry. It was most effective and
fortunes were made!
HT's wife, Pauline, ran a crèche for small pre-school children, which
I visited. It was a really happy place.
We really enjoyed our time in Singapore and recommend it as a
fascinating place to visit, whatever one's interests. We also
visited the History Museum, the Asian Culture Museum and the Open Air Zoo,
which are as good as any in Europe. We also hardly ever cooked a meal
because the food was so cheap and varied and the restaurants such fun to
check out. Thanks to the far-sighted policies of its first Prime Minister
Kuan Yew, it is the most modern, clean, crime-free and pleasant
cities we have visited.