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SINGAPORE  singaporemap3singapore_sling

The famous Singapore Sling-
Glitter2Katherine A Bowers, Basic Author
A whole lot can happen in a single day… As the journey was a day in Singapore on the way to India, I had printed a list from the internet of attractions that I wanted to see while there.  Arriving in the middle of the night at the Singapore International Changi Airport was what I would call a top rated airport experience. Tired from a long flight of sixteen hours, I made my way to the Ambassador Transit Hotel within the airport. Many international airports have lounges, day hotels and shower facilities, but Singapore really does it right.  Since it was 2:00 a.m., I needed a place to shower and sleep for a few hours.  The shower facility is beautifully done in Asian style, simplistic, modern and pleasant with bamboo and flowers. A simple bed for a nap was perfect, quiet and private. What better way to start a day in Singapore- clean, rested and ready to visit the City.

Simply checking my bag for the day at the airport, I took my light shoulder bag that I like to use for trekking around town and I was ready to go. About 7:00 a.m. I caught the bus into downtown Singapore.  As I gazed through the large clean windows, I saw beautifully lined streets of exotic palms and blue sky, with buildings that were two and three stories high with unique designs and colors. The beauty of Singapore was starting to unfold before me.  After a very brief twenty-minute ride to downtown and a short walk, I was at my first stop, the truly majestic and famous Raffles Hotel, now a national monument.  In the balmy tropical air and early morning sunshine, this colonial style building sparkled white. I stood there for awhile taking it all in. Raffles_hotel 

Raffles Hotel was the place in Singapore I wanted to visit the most, for its architecture and its incredible history. It is named after Singapore's founder Sir Stamford Raffles. Just being there you can start to sense the connection to the past- tremendous history, mystery, romance, times gone by, stories of war and political take-over, of English gentlemen in white jackets smoking skinny cigars, of summer nights and a flavored drink called the Singapore Sling. 

Raffles_Hotel_LobbyEntering the majestic front hall and parlor with carpeted stairs leading up to a second level, I felt like I was stepping back in time.  The hotel was frequented by well-known writers such as Rudyard Kipling, Ernest Hemingway and James Michener; celebrities such as Jean Harlow and Elizabeth Taylor; royalty including Queen Elizabeth II.  Many have graced its grounds spanning over a century of time since it was built in 1899.  

The hotel was under Japanese occupation during World War II and it was even used as a transit camp for prisoners at the end of the war.  In the 1990’s the hotel was renovated and it has changed owners a few times along the way, but it is still the same.  Service is impeccable and I’m escorted into the dining hall to a breakfast bar with exotic fruits and foods many of which I am unfamiliar. breakfast_roomThere is a large choice of eastern and western foods, cappuccino and teas, delicious Indian hot dishes, Asian delicacies and all served in beautiful sterling service. Breakfast in itself is something to see and the dining hall a pleasant place to eat,  relax and read the morning paper.  Honestly, the place was “smashing.”  I walked the spacious grounds and visited the stores, entirely enjoying the whole experience.  If I had done nothing else in Singapore, this would have been enough.

However, the day awaited me so off I went to Chinatown.  My first impression, this is by far the cleanest, most organized Chinatown I’ve ever seen. Actually, some have criticized Singapore for its super clean demeanor and lack of bohemian style environments that often make things more interesting.  But honestly, having trekked the planet, I found the cleanliness of Singapore to be quite refreshing.  Chinatown had restored many of its shop houses preserving the history of Chinese in Singapore. Making my way to the Buddhist Tooth Relic Temple, I was able to see the fifteen-foot Maitreya Buddha on the first level floor and also visit the Buddhist Cultural Museum. Approximately 40% of Singaporeans practice Buddhism.  Interestingly, the hindu_templeSri Mariamman Hindu Temple is also located in the Chinatown area.  It was founded in 1827 eight years after the British East India Company established a trading settlement in Singapore. Both temples are architecturally unique and they are active with devotees spending time to pray. I decided to do the same, appreciative to be in Singapore.

From there I made way to the Singapore River to take a “Bumboat Ride.”  The bumboats follow the river that winds its way through the heart of Singapore. It's an excellent way in a few short hours, to see the historic buildings along the river, the iconic international business buildings and the sea.  Along the river are restaurants with every kind of food you can imagine. It's great for photo taking and meeting other travelers. Truly an international meeting place. singapore bumboats


Last Updated (Friday, 14 March 2014 08:55)

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