From Shanghai to Singapore….wow, also an explosion to your senses in different ways to Shanghai: it is smart, modern, busy, clean, organised… very hot and incredibly humid!
We were there for a week, and here are our top snippets:
- Ice cream sandwiches – strange but true – the Singaporeans like their slab of ice cream between two slices of white bread!
- The Gate of Hope – in the city there used to be a walled Convent, and on one of the outer walls there was a gate that became known as the Gate of Hope. This was due to the many Chinese newborn baby girls that were abandoned there for the nuns to look after. The Chinese people in Singapore had a strong superstitious belief that baby girls born in the year of the Tiger, known as ”Tiger Girls’ would bring bad luck to the family. This practice went on for over a hundred years, with every twelfth year being a year of the Tiger, until the Mother Superior communicated to the community that this was not true, and the tradition gradually stopped. The Convent operated as a Convent until 1983, and is now a courtyard inside the walls, with restaurants, and shops, also used as a wedding reception venue. The Gate of Hope is still there and caught my interest, and compassion for the many children who lives were affected by this belief.
- Orchids – the Botanical Gardens has the largest collection of varieties of orchid in the world. They are Beautiful with a capital B. When I was there I met a lovely Vietnamese man called Tam – we sat down next to each other while eating ice-creams (not as a sandwich though I hasten to add). We talked all afternoon, actually, ‘talked’ is a bit of a stretch of the truth, it was really a cross between charades and Pictionary. It’s amazing how much we found out about each other in this manner – he is a retired general surgeon – you can imagine the charades on different parts of the body being operated on…I did wonder what any onlookers might have thought of our communication efforts…it ended up being as entertaining as the orchids!
- The pollution was at an all time high whilst we were there – the stubble burning in the fields of Indonesia caused a ‘frog’, smog or’ haze’ as the Singaporeans call it – masks were needed especially if you had a heart problem or respiratory problem. It got to a pollution reading of 400 (hazardous) just before we landed there; when the air is clean it reads between 0 and 100.
- There are many outstanding buildings … and one very bizarre one – Who would have thought that an architect would come up with the idea of three pillars of hotel rooms, topped with a ‘ship’ which houses restaurants, palm trees, swimming pool and viewing terraces to see all of the city. We went up there with our Singaporean colleague, Edric, and it was breathtaking (come to think of it, that might have been because of the ‘haze’ of course…) Photo below. complete with haze…
In our guide book it said ‘if the idea of doing yoga in a Hindu temple makes your chakras glow, come along to this class…’, so of course we did. When we got there, the yoga teacher said that because of the haze he was only going to do half an hour instead of an hour and just meditation, no yoga. Garry said he would wait for me outside, but the yoga teacher encouraged him to join in instead. So we went to this large room, all laid out with colourful reed mats, and about 20 people, including two five year old boys (who were really good at yoga, impressive). The teacher must have changed his mind about just meditation, and ended up teaching a whole hour of yoga. Of course, Garry was not expecting this, hadn’t ‘signed up’ for this, but he went along with it with a smile, and did his best – I did not look at him for the whole hour just in case he was not a happy bunny…
And the Singapore Sling – as Adam says, it’s a tradition, it has to be done… so we went to Raffles and sipped on a Singapore Sling – tastes a lot like cough mixture really…ha ha!
The ‘ship hotel’