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Thursday, January 05, 2017

Singapore 2017

 In1819 Stamford Raffles wouldn't have dreamt the tiny island he landed on would become an example for one of the most prosperous, business friendly, eco-friendly work cultured, law abiding, beautiful tourist spotted nation of the world in a century.
To the English is was habit those days to land as merchants spread their wares make deals split the locals and quietly take over the place and make it a British settlement and thus Britain became great Britain the empire where the sun never set naturally but these days the sun does just that ,sets quite fast in tiny Britain !

Singapore eye 

Changi control tower

let’s get back to Singapore ,it was the quintessential oriental island country with a hot steamy climate ,the sea ,the port the back canals with pointed hatted Chinese driving rickshaws, ebony dark Tamils unloading the cargo from the ships and local Malays walking around till the second world war came ,history looked at Singapore then ,the Japanese conquered it and the days were filled with horrors arrests and crime till the British got it back at the end of the war ,Singapore continued to be a priced possession till 1963 when it got freedom and joined with Malaysia to form a federal republic ,somehow the unity never lasted with a bigger and bossier Malaysia not considering a smaller and resource less Singapore to be an equal partner and then it was the leadership of one of the greatest leaders of our times came into action Lee Kwan Yew the president of Singapore took the brave decision to separate from Malaysia and go alone as the republic of Singapore

Changi Airport
police woman
The divorce proved a success because of the stern determination of the president and his men their hard work and the cooperation of the people within a decade they had starts showing Singapore as a miracle country and even Malaysia learnt a lesson or two from them then Today both countries have become advanced and are in amicable terms .

I had been to Singapore as early as the nineties the times when it was a wonderland and manna put together for Indians who had never set sights on its modern traffics laden shops etc slowly the influx of Indians to Dubai and middle east and other parts of the world would make Indians lose that much awe and just enjoy it without any wonder!
The last time I was in Singapore I had been to a conference in NUH and it was more of an academic exercise all sterile with cabs taking me from hotel to venue and just walking around a bit in orchard road where I stayed I just couldn’t enter it s soul
This time i was more on a business pleasure trip I had gone for getting a Schengen visa which incidentally is not a visa to china though it sounds like one and I kept telling this to many its a visa to European nations and has got nothing to do whatsoever with china though it sounds suspiciously Chinese on hearing

Goes on to say don’t believe what you hear
so my itinerary was all set land at night next morning go to VFS global the agency who manages the nitty gritty of visas tell them to tell the Italian embassy I needed to go back to Brunei and needed my passport and cannot wait the normal three weeks hence to get it ASAP
all this had been conveyed by me by mail and by repeated phone calls ,but the lady in VFs seemed to be my bête noir she was young inexperienced and insisted no visa is ever given in one day and if I go back I need to come back to collect it and no embassy will send the visa etc. etc. ,I just kept quiet later she found the documents adequate an took my finger printing which was mandatory these days and the said your papers will be sent o Italian embassy tomorrow but I wanted it to be sent the same day for spicier handling ,after all it was in same city why delay it for 24 hrs and I offered that I could taker the documents for which she reacted vehemently and said the documents are never handed over to a customer etc. ,so I told her to call the Italian embassy and find out which she did and they just told her yes we know he had mailed us so just send the documents with him now she sheepishly gave them to me and I took the MRT changed lines and in a jiffy was in Novena square and the office ,one thing i have to tell about the Singapore MRT it was out of the world punctual neat organised and user friendly ,one got the hang of things in a short time and I was confident of going to any corner of Singapore without asking anyone

I was informed that the visa if I am lucky i could get on Friday the next day if not would be sent by courier as I had to leave on Sunday
I was staying in Bugis a shopping area with lot of malls eateries etc. I was in an predominately Muslim quarter near sultan Masjid mosque and it was full of Indian Muslim restaurants streets like Arab street ,Kandahar street Ahuliwal street etc ,the cottages were very cute colorful and the whole area looked lovely with skyscrapers in the horizon
it was a nice area to walk around with lot of small shops

Sultan masjid mosque
Murtabak deer meat in zam Zam restaurant 

even a naileur was available which I assume was a nail specialist
I dined in the zam zam a famously known restaurant the place was filled and had lot of Tamil and Malayalee waiters running around with colorful dishes.

Dear dear I missed that
In the evening it was cloudy and pleasant and I went to the famous Bay area, the reclaimed part of marina reservoir into the gardens of the Bay a veritable green area with tall man made steel trees with branches with creepers covering, it was the symbol of the place called super tree groves which are steel frames with entwining greenery rising from 80 ft to 160 ft ,they have photovoltaic cells which can generate energy from solar sources ,they provide shade lighting and work as environmental engines for the garden and later maybe the city itself
It covered around 250 acres of reclaimed land
In 2006 an international competition was held for the best design ,more than 70 entries from 170 firms from 24 countries took part and two British firms were awarded the contract as they had the best design
The Singapore Government aims to transform Singapore from a city with gardens to a city in a garden!!
The park had more than 20 million visitors by 2015 November
The Marina terrace also loomed ahead near it was the Bay area MRT station
I walked around the place going into the cool green cocoons of gardens it appeared like I was all alone in a tropical forest while I was in the midst of a very busy modern island city country!!
In the flower dome I met an elderly Singaporean who told me the water that saw was not salt water but pure drinking water which was recycled from sewage and made so pure that it could be drank off the tap!! 

The buildings the bridges were all mind boggling and showed the grit and determination and focus of the country

There was a also the flower dome and the cloud forest which are closed centres of tropical gardens one of Mediterranean and other from higher altitudes ,one needed to buy entry tickets for them

The Marina bay sands facing the Marina bay is an integrated resort with three towered 2560 roomed luxury hotel, world’s largest atrium casino with 500 tables and 1600 slot machines ,sands mall ,shoppers museum ,theaters ,skating rink, convention exhibition center ,celebrity restaurants ,topped by a 340 meter long sky park which can hold 3900 people and has an infinity swimming pool of 490 ft ,an architectural feat ,its shopping complexes have the best brands in the world ,theaters ,two large crystal pavilions .
Next day morning saw me in Little India Serangoon road to meet two of my relatives for breakfast in Komala vilas .
This hotel was famous not only in Singapore but a legend ,it was started in 1947 in Singapore ,there were two branches in Little India small neat and ambient ,the masala dosas were out of the world in taste and served with love ,Little India was really a piece of India and like in Kuala lumpurs little India was the place where the Indian community a vibrant part of Singapore having settled there for years ,it had many shops a few temples hotels flower shops jewelries and a busy market ,the Mustafa mall had existed as a magnet for all Indian tourists for them to shop from sewing needle to sambhar powder anything was available round the clock in Mustafa
This day I had to shift from my hotel in Bugis as I planned to move into Fragrance hotel Ruby which I booked online through Agoda a favourite hotel booking site of mine it looked nice and reasonable also I booked, it was in Geylang but when I mentioned this to my relatives they gave a strange look and said Hari Geylang was famous once for being the red light area of Singapore!!
I took a cab and went into a crowded area full of shops and hotels and fairly wide roads in parallel formation called lorongs or lanes in Malay ,the cab driver told me the area had very little to call itself a red light area these days and it was more known for its food offers !

By 2pm I had to be in the embassy in Novena square which I reached by MRT ,unfortunately my visa was not ready and I would have to wait till Monday for the same ,with my return flight on Sunday I had no option but to return back to Brunei with passport and later courier it to the embassy ,by the time I am writing this all this is done and I have my visa and passport with me .
On Friday evening I just walked around Geylang as I was bit tired and it was raining too .
Next day morning I took MRT to Orchard road station, the station itself is in a big building called Orchard road ION which is a massive shopping complex with so many floors of branded shops hotels and all sorts of fun and entertainment .this turning of public transport hubs into huge marketing entertainment complexes should be learned in India which has its railway and bus stations in some of the juiciest real estates of its cities but sadly unused and decrepit.

I walked around a lot seeing the Christmas decorations in the mall, later I took MRT to reach Khatib another residential area towards Changi as I had to make a visit to one of my relatives later after a fine lunch I went with him to marine parade to visit some more relatives and thus the day went,I returned back to Geylang in pouring rain at dusk and started packing for my early morning flight back to Brunei .

1 comment:

Maddy said...

have been there a few times, & i enjoyed Singapore each time,
and you have brought it now to the tabletop or i should say laptop!!

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