I learned a lot while I was in Singapore ~ and considering I didn't do much in the way of 'pre' reading on the country, I was surprised at what I learned, like how small the country is and over 4 million people live here!
(Notice the scale)
A bit of history:Thomas Stamford Raffles founded the British colony of Singapore. In 1795 Raffles became a clerk for the powerful British East India Company, which (with the support of the British government) was battling with the Dutch for control of Souteast Asia. Raffles flourished, rising to become lieutenant governor of Java in 1811. In 1819 he founded Singapore by purchasing the land for the British East India Company. Singapore became a bustling port and a key element in the expanding British empire, securing Raffles' place in history. (Singapore became an independent state in 1965.)Interesting facts in Singapore:
Fact 1: In efforts to limit the number of automobiles on the roads, there is a predefined number of cars that can be licensed. As a result, each car owner must have a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) ~ yes the word is 'entitlement'. There are a given number of certificates which are issued in a particular year, and each is good for 10 years after which you must then go out and purchase another COE. The cost of this certificate is based on market value and is driven on good ol' Supply and Demand. In some cases, the cost of this certificate is over 20K. The use of these certificates means that there is a consistent number of vehicles on the road and the government can control the number of cars and thus the resulting traffic on the small island.
Fact 2: Singaporeans are not able to import tobacco into the country. The cost of cigarettes in Singapore is $12/pack. To avoid this, the cigarette cases became very trendy and people would put their cigarettes into these cases and dispose of the cigarette package. Trying to out craft the people, the government decided to stamp all Sinaporean cigarettes with a stamp on the butt which says ~ Made in Singapore. Now, should you be stopped and the authorities suspect that you are smoking imported cigarettes, you will be asked to provide the authorities with the lit cigarette for inspection and if found to be imported, you would receive a $50 fine. The authorities would then inspect all of the cigarettes in your cigarette case and would be imposed a fine of $50/cigarette.
Fact 3: As things are less expensive in Malaysia, gas tanks of vehicles going to Malaysia are inspected. If there is less than 3/4 of a tank, the vehicle is turned around to 'gas up' before being allowed to leave the country.
And what trip is complete without a taste of the local beer ~ hmmmm, Tiger.
On my last night, I decided to take in the 'Eye of Singapore' as suggested by one of the gals at the site. While I don't usually get freaked out at heights, I have to say the going up was not smooth sailing. I spend most of the time sitting in the middle of the car until we crested the top and started heading down. I unfortunately didn't get there before the sun went down, so didn't get a chance to see a distance. But it was interesting to say I've done it.
Singapore is undoubtedly one of the cleanest cities I have ever been in. There is absolutely nothing on the streets. No gum and no cigarette butts! Apparently you are not able to purchase gum in the city unless it is a teeth whitening gum and then it is sold under the guise of being a 'treatment'.
There are a number of workers who are going around the city to clean up after everyone. They don't work the regular 9-5 city hours. I saw 2 of them out at 9pm still working to clean up the debris from the rain earlier that day.
Surprisingly enough, Singapore is a food mecca. I had just about every type of food you could imagine ~ German, Thai, Indian, Sinaporean chicken and rice, not to mention an Aussie steak, and then some that I didn't have like the chinese egg and chicken feet. There was an outdoor food court, which looked very interesting but I must admit I'm not always the culinary adventurer and I just observed those around me.
I didn't have a lot of time to check out the city. The unfortunate part of travelling for business, you have to actually work from 8am to 5pm. The wander around town did show that the city was clean, it was safe to walk on my own and very pretty.
The night shots...
I was working with a Cord Blood Bank at the hospital. I was amazed at some of the signs that were posted for upcoming seminars ~ yes, you are reading correctly! And as I later learned, Han How Chaun is a man... Go figure.
Working later one afternoon, the QA Manager and I opted to get a coffee ~ this is the coffee with milk. No wonder they don't give you a spoon ~ this would eat right through it.
Hotel History: The hotel was founded by the four Armenian Sarkies Brothers (Martin, Tigran, Aviet and Arshak Sarkies). They opened the 10 room colonial bungalow at Beach Road and Bras Basah Road owned by an Arab trader and philanthropist Syed Mohamed Alsagoff on December 1 1887. Alsagoff developed the site of his late father's estate until it became the most modern building in Singapore at the time. Sarkies was a tenant on favourable short-term lease. The orginal location was by the seaside, although continued reclamation means that the site is presently some 500 metres away from the shore. No Asians were permitted as guests until the 1930s. Designed by architect Regent Alfred John Bidwell of Swan and Maclaren, the current main building of Raffles Hotel was completed in 1899. The hotel continued to expand over the years with the addition of wings, a verandah, a ballroom, a bar and billiards room, further buildings and rooms. The Great Depression spelled trouble for Raffles Hotel and in 1931, the hotel went into receivership. In 1933, however the financial troubles were resolved and a public company called Raffles Hotel Ltd. was established.
The Singapore Sling was created by a bartender between 1910 and 1915 in the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel. The famous drink is very fruity and I gotta say, despite the liquor in there, mine tasted surprisingly similar to Beth's virgin drink. Was a bit taken aback by the cost ~ yes it was an arm and a leg ~ or almost $30 a drink! Good thing you don't need to tip!