Before 1819. Singapore’s name comes from ‘Singa Pura’ which means Lion City in Sanskrit and ‘Singam oor’ which means city of lions in Tamil. According to the Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals), a Sumatran prince called Sang Nila Utama landed on Temasek (Singapore’s old name) and saw a Lion which is called ‘Singa’ in Malay.
Today Singapore is the most modern ,beautiful ,advanced and the cleanest country in Asia. Despite its modernity and technological advances the city has maintained a green heat! The whole city is bursting with trees and shrubs ,roads and avenues are lined with lush greenery. The most modern and rich part of the city, where our hotel was becomes alive at dusk when thousands upon thousands of birds return to roost. The cacophony somehow miles with the shoppers and the various other outlets.
The other day a large python was seen lying by the Orchard road walk! Having wandered up from the sewers and then the drains. There was no panic, the shop keepers called the authorities , the cordoned the area and the animal welfare people very calmly and gently collected him ,later to be released to his habitat. A perfect example of man and nature living in harmony.
Singapore is not as ostentatious as Hong Kong was. The mall consists of all kinds of stores, from discounted goods to people just selling things from a table. Where as HK has nothing but massive designer stores with menacing looking security guards outside, these shopping malls here have room for everyone, goods of varying price and catering for all levels of income. People seem a lot more relaxed and and not as frantic!
The country does a lot to combat pollution by making car ownership difficult. Before you can buy a car you have to seek permission from the government. Getting that can, according to our guide can cost as much as 80, to 100,000 Singapore dollars. You can only keep the car for ten years then you have to change it, you do get a subsidy as the scrap value and most of these cars are bought by poorer countries like Malaysia, if you do decide to keep the car beyond the decade you get nothing as a scrap value and pay increased tax. Hence car ownership is mostly for the really well offs. Having said that, obviously there are a lot of those well offs around! As there are quite a few cars on the road ,mostly Japanese and of course the luxury German brands.
We visited the orchid collection in the Botanical gardens. An amazing feast of colour and beauty Superbly maintained and displayed ,with amazing ease of access for all levels of mobility.
There are 7,000 orchids with 700 different species. All displayed as if in their natural habitat. My life long desire to see these magnificent blooms in their natural habitat was really and truly met .
I also visited the Gardens by the Bay, a marvel of eco planting ,with the worlds highest indoor water fall. A nature based eco system and a great teaching place for the teaching about it to the school children.
The architecture of Singapore is second to none , We went uptown the 56th floor of the Sky park, you can look at the every angle of the city and every facet is so designed that it looks beautiful. Obviously huge amount of care imagination and talent has gone into the planing and the construction of the place.
The hotel we were staying at ,on the main Orchard Road was very luxurious and comfortable. They provided a free smart mobile phone which you could take pout with you when you are in Singapore. You could not only make and receive free local calls you could also call the UK or whichever was your home country for free.
Ask our service providers to show just generosity ! Most London hotels provide patchy internet and make atrocious charges for using the landline.
Am sitting at the airport writing this, before we leave for Bangkok. The new building of this airport is easy to navigate ,provides free internet, very comfortable seating with ports for charging your electronics . The facilities are so clean and modern that you try to remember the ones at the `Heathrow and blush!
I loved the system for drinking water. There are barrels provided where you can tip the water from the bottles you are carrying and take the empty bottle through. Where there are machines provided to fill your bottles with filtered ,chilled/ warm/ hot water.
Less wastage of bottles and less plastic to get rid off.
We really need to learn from them.
Here are a few glimpses of this ecological marvel