AFTER I’VE set my foot on Singapore in 2005, I’ve told myself that if I would live abroad, I will consider this country next to UK. I moved to the UK in 2008 but didn’t forget about Singapore. I know that I would visit again the Lion City and true enough, after 8 years I’ve reunited with the Fine city. This time, I had the opportunity to experience being a local even for only 60 days.
Singapore is a city-state in South East Asia. It was a colony of Great Britain. Established by Thomas Stamford Raffles as a trading post on 29 January 1819, the small sea town of Singapore soon attracted migrants and merchants from China, the Indian sub-continent, Indonesia, the Malay Peninsula and the Middle East (Your Singapore, 2013). The so-called Garden city joined Malaysia briefly when the British left but later on was expelled by the Malaysian because they were threatened by the Chinese dominance in the country. Singapore is the only country that gained independence in 1965 against its own will in the modern world.
Hats off to their first Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew who ruled Singapore for forty years! He was a perfect example of a leader who stayed in his office for a lengthy period of time but did not abuse his power and yet utilised it into his advantage turning the country as one of the wealthiest countries in the world. In the Philippines, people are opposing to political dynasty because it frequently results to power tripping but not in Singapore. Today, Lee Hsien Loong, the son of the Yew continues the legacy of his father. The taxes are surely appropriated for the welfare of the Singaporeans and residents. One perfect example, each town has a community club apart from the outdoor fitness facility in residential hubs, free for everybody to use; no wonder, most Singaporean are lean. You will really get motivated to stay in shape not only because of the free fitness facility but also because of the clean environment. There are a quite number of joggers in Singapore.
Singapore’s cleanliness is not because all people have discipline but the authority is really doing their job. The rubbish collection is so systematic, as well as the maintenance of the HDB (Housing and Development Boards)– flats or houses provided by the government.
Tourists can explore the Lion city without any apprehension of being pickpocketed because it is helluva safe. This is the first reason why I love Singapore. I was running everyday carrying my iPhone without getting worried of being snatched, I’ve worn skimpy shorts but not once did I feel I was being ogled at. I’ve experienced being in a taxi during the wee hours of the morning and reached home safely. Capital punishment is implemented in the country. No wonder, Singapore’s crime rate is one of the lowest in the world.
Singapore doesn’t only boast of its cleanliness, peace and order, any tourist will definitely appreciate the sights and sounds, impressive history and cultural diversity. Orchard Road is the first stop in every holidaymaker’s bucketlist for Singapore. It is the famed retail stretch in the city where you can find an array of famous designer’s labels such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel. If you are a first timer, visiting the Merlion Park must be on your day one. It is the national symbol of Singapore and symbolises the humble beginning of the country as a fishing village. From the Merlion Park, you can walk through the new pedestrian bridge to reach the famous Esplanade or Theatres on the bay, which is another major attraction that will link you closer to the attractions around Marina Bay including the world-class Marina Bay Sands hotel.
Asians don’t have to fly to California for the Universal Studios because you can enjoy the same experience in Singapore. You can spend a whole day since it’s inside Sentosa Park that has other attractions for both adults and children.
If you want to retreat from the bustling city and just want to relax, Singapore’s Botanic garden is so massive, perfect for nature lovers. Start the day and wander through the swaths of virgin rainforest or watch the variety of fishes and geese in the lake. The Botanic also houses the National Orchid garden that has a thousand orchid collections. When you get hungry, take a walk to the food court near the Tanglin gate for a traditional Singaporean breakfast, soft-boiled eggs, teh tarik (local tea) and toast slathered with kaya or coconut jam.
Singapore is a ubiquitous collage of cultures so there is a vast array of cuisines on top of the traditional Singaporean food, chicken rice, fish head and fried hokkien mee (egg noodles). These specialties are best eaten in hawkers, “karinderia style” food centres, which are all over the city, and some are open until dawn.
British influence is so evident in Singapore which is now, one of the most liveable cities in the world, they also drive on the right side, their public buses are similar to UK’s and of course the medium of speaking used in schools is British English. Yes, English is the common language used for business so you will find your way in the city easily.
No doubt that Singapore is a cosmopolitan city that offers urban living and a world-class environment but aside from the vibrant multicultural experience, there’s more you can discover in the Lion city.
By Joy Mesina