It was quite a hectic day yesterday. Despite an almost sleepless previous night in the flight, we were in high spirits and going around was great fun. Back home our party spirit continued a little late into the night and so we decided to have a relaxed morning. Umpteen rounds of coffee for me and an egg dosa breakfast later, we set off. To explore more of Singapore.
Every new destination that I travel to, we always opt for a day at least on a Hop-on-hop-off Big Bus to get a complete feel of the city. So was it this time too as we reached Suntec City mall the starting point, exchanged our online booking coupons at their counter for our tickets and started our journey on one of the four routes passing various landmarks and the high tech creations of this beautiful city on sea, Singapore.
Our journey with you today would cover some of the most prominent places that you must visit when you are in Singapore while passing through the sheer visual delights of this well planned city. The credit for transformation of Singapore goes to Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister after independence. He governed for three decades and is recognized as the nation’s founding father, with the country transitioning from a third world country to a first world country under his vision and dynamic leadership.
We are now at the Singapore Botanic Gardens which is a 160 year old tropical garden located at Orchard Road shopping district. It is the only tropical garden to be honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Botanic Gardens has been ranked Asia’s top park attraction since 2013 by travelers. A glimpse for you before we move further.
Modern Singapore was founded in the 19th century, thanks to a man known as Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. During this time, the British empire was eyeing a port of call in this region to base its merchant fleet and to forestall any advance made by the Dutch. Singapore already an up-and-coming trading post along the Malacca Straits, seemed ideal.
Raffles, then the Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen in Sumatra landed in Singapore in 1819 and recognizing the immense potential of the swamp-covered island, he helped negotiate a treaty with the local rulers and established Singapore as a trading station. The city quickly grew as a trade hub attracting immigrants from China, India, the Malay Archipelago and beyond.
In 1822, Raffles implemented the Raffles Town Plan also known as the Jackson Plan to address the issue of growing disorderliness in the colony. Ethnic residential areas were segregated into four areas. The European Town had residents made up of European traders, Eurasians and rich Asians while the ethnic Chinese were located in present-day Chinatown and south-east of the Singapore River. Ethnic Indians resided at Chulia Kampong north of Chinatown, and Kampong Glam consisted of Muslims, ethnic Malays and Arabs who had migrated to Singapore. Our next stop, Little India.
Little India is distinct from the Chulia Kampong area under the Raffles Plan. As Chulia Kampong became more crowded and competition for land escalated, many ethnic Indians moved into what is now known as Little India. The Little India area is reported to have developed around a former settlement for Indian convicts. It’s location along the Serangoon River originally made it attractive for raising cattle and trade in livestock was once prominent in the area. Eventually other economic activity developed and by the turn of the 20th century the area began to look like an ethnic Indian neighborhood.
Little India though is not solely an Indian neighborhood. Located alongside shops that cater predominantly to the Indians are Chinese clan associations, places of worship of different religions and a variety of different business ranging from electrical supplies, hardware, apparels, second-hand goods, traditional spice grinders and grocers. Let’s check it out.
Let’s now move on to China Town. Once an enclave for Singapore’s Chinese immigrant population, the Chinatown of today is much loved for its blend of old and new, with historic temples and traditional medicinal shops alongside bold new bars and trendy lifestyle shops. Come let’s spend some quality time exploring this vibrant district, which encompasses the neighborhoods of Tanjong Pagar, Bukit Pasoh, Kreta Ayer and Telok Ayer and gain insights into Singapore’s rich, multi-ethnic culture by visiting some of the country’s most fascinating places of worship located in the heart of Chinatown with a Buddhist temple, a mosque and a Hindu temple along a single street.
After a wonderful day out, it was time to head for some dinner and we chose the food court of Jurong East mall close to our place in Lakeside. Singapore is a melting pot of cuisines, incorporating a rich heritage of food dishes consisting of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian influences. We found the food very reasonably priced. Make your choice as we go around.
As we walked out of the mall, the National Day celebrations were still in full swing with proud Singaporeans enjoying their creations, achievements and their evening out with their friends and families.
We would be back with you soon to discover more of this beautiful city together.
Singapore. Like us, you too would fall in love 💏