Marina Bay waterfront and the largest light and water spectacular in Southeast Asia, Wonder Full.
This is a free twice daily event, about 8.30pm and 9.30pm depending on the day. It is wonderful, and wonderful from many angles, near and far. In the photo on the right is the Science Museum, in the centre Marina Bay Sands hotel and shopping centre, on the left is the fascinating double-helix bridge.
Prior to the light show an exotic drink by Marina Bay, with an exotic view.
Singapore is a tiny city state, just 20×30 kms (13×19 miles) in size but wielding huge ambition and a dynamic, mixed population composed mainly of Chinese, Malays and Indians, numbering about 5 million.
Singapore and its 60 or so islands is located at the far south end of the Malay peninsula, connected to its large northern neighbour Malaysia by two causeways, so entry is possible by bus, train, car or bicycle (the Japanese army introduced that last idea quite dramatically in 1942). To the south is Indonesia.
In Malay language this is called Singapura, Lion City, even though lions never lived here. Tigers did and still do, albeit in the fantastic city zoo.
Love it or hate it, if you’re travelling in Southeast Asia you’ll almost certainly pass through Singapore at some point. A few years ago government surveys showed that most visitors were only staying a couple of days on layovers, so a policy was established to attract visitors for longer. It worked for us. We spent 5 days there and loved it. Paradise found! Albeit expensive.
Travellers taking a Singapore holiday should be ready for an immaculate, organised but sterile metropolis, Asia without the poor: no beggars, stray dogs, aggressive touts, dirty streets, stinky buzzy motorcycles or biting insects, but with drinkable tap water, delicious food that doesn’t give you the runs, air-conditioning, wide roads, manicured green spaces and clear, logical road signs.
This city state has many attractive features for travellers not least of which are that it’s a great hub for flights, its sheer efficiency and reliability, spectacular buildings, beautiful landscaping, handful of appealing tourist attractions and the ease of communication for both English and Chinese speakers. And this is not Public Relations talking! I’m writing this in Bali and thinking, how could Singapore get it so right and Bali get it so wrong?
The answer of course is/was smart, authoritarian, uncorruptible, forward-looking leadership, starting with the foundation of Singapore in 1819 by British national Stamford Raffles and accelerated by Lee Kuan Yew (who was a star law student at Cambridge University), Singapore’s first Prime Minister. Lee is the founding father of modern Singapore, taking it “from the third world to the first world in a single generation”.
Lee Kuan Yew’s son, Lee Hsien Loong is now the Prime Minister of the city state.