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The first records from Singapore date back to the third century, however, not many interesting data are known. In 1819, the British used the town in their competition against the Dutch, who were already present with big numbers in Indonesia. Consequently, they claimed ownership of the place.
In 1942, the Japanese bombed Singapore, ignoring the large presence of the British fleet. They captured the country and for three years, it was named “Sonyan” (light of the south). After the second World War, Singapore regained its old name and became a crown colony of Great Britain again. In the 50’s, after an unsuccessful uprising of the communists against the Brits, slowly self-governance was introduced. The government declared independence to be their main target. For two years from 1963, Singapore was a member of the newly formed
Malaysia but in 1965 it happened: Singapore became an independent country. The 9th of August is still widely celebrated as Singapore’s birthday.
Singapore has been an important trading place for two centuries and is the second largest
harbor of the world. It has grown explosively and has been industrialized. It looks like 95% of the city consists of high rise buildings; the other 5% consists of shopping malls. The city is extremely clean, which is not surprising because dropping a piece of paper in the street may cost you a fortune – the government is active in keeping the city clean for a long time. It was the first city where I could not see the safety barriers alongside the highway as they were covered by bougainvillea.

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Some of the building still remind one of the old British colonial times like the city hall, which is close to the famous cricket club. A stony image of Raffles, the founder of this city, is looking out over the city. The Raffles Hotel, named after him when it was built in 1886, and has been expanded since. It is in this hotel that the famous Singapore sling was created.

Raffles HotelStatue of RafflesCity Hall

The major population group (about three quarters) is Chinese. A part of the town, with about 1,600 inhabitants, full of little shops and restaurants, is called “Chinatown”. Apparently most of the Chinese like to live outside Chinatown. We had a great meal there. You have to sit outside on wobbly chairs and plastic tables but the food is excellent. All around you, there are tourist gadgets, which as usual did not fail to get the attention of Anna. Especially the wooden birds, in their little cages, which start to sing when you clap your hands, were very interesting to her, and our meal was guided by an almost continuous bird-peep. It made us understand why the nightingale was released from its cage in the famous fairytale.
Sentosa Island, a small island in the south connected to the mainland by boats, a bridge and a cable car, used to be the bastion of the British in the second World War. Nowadays it is a happier place: it is full of
tourist attractions and their visitors. There is a golf course and three resort-hotels, which all possess a high star-status. You find there a 37 meter high statue of the Merlion, which also has become one of Anna’s loved ones. The merlion has the body of a fish and the head of a lion, hence mer-lion (mermaid and lion; if they would have given both their fare share, its name should have been merli or meron). The Merlion used to be the symbol of Singapore until 1996 and is still a trademark and an often-sold tourist item, even though smaller in size.

Merlion - click on the picture to see large-size beautySentosa Island resort- click for full-size beauty

Clarke Quay (named after Sir Andrew Clarke, one of Singapore’s governors) is one of the “places to be” nowadays, lined with restaurants and bars on the riverside where you can have drinks and meals and where you see fast businessmen and women hanging around in their fancy suits talking endlessly about nothing – and looking at the amount of beer that goes in, in the end it will possibly be less than nothing.

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