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Published: August 17th 2015
This beautiful city...
View from the Boat Quay boat tour
Singapore came from the Malay word 'Singa' which means Lion and 'pura' meaning town.... lion town. In 1965 Singapore became independent from Malaysia so this year was their 50th anniversary... and boy did they celebrate it in style!
"Majulah Singapura' means 'Onward Singapore'. It is also the name of their national anthem. And it is a phrase what was hard to miss last weekend. Apparently they spent millions on the celebrations, which included; the Black Knights doing incredible flybys, a free symphony concert in the Botanical Gardens, a parade which was televised on large screens around the city, fireworks every night during the 3 days, free transport, free phone calls and much, much more.
I really got a chance to see how proud the Singaporeans are of their city and what independence means to them. Sitting, albeit squashed in like sardines, on the Marina Bay walkway watching the parade on the giant screen, was an unforgettable experience. The people around me were waving flags and singing songs, and you really got a sense that they were proud of what their country had achieved. And rightly too.. in 1965 when they got their independence they were embracing a multi cultural,
Marina at night
Another photo from the boat tour
multi ethnic city which thrived on the joining together of different people. In 1965. Mr Lee Kuan Yew was the first prime minister and governed for 3 decades, including 'building' the Singapore which we know now. A forward thinking people i reckon.
So, history lesson over! I just wanted to share a bit of what i've learnt since being here!
I've now been here for 15 days and whilst it feels like i've always been here in some ways it has also whipped by. I have now moved into my own apartment in a very swanky condo. I have got my 'employment pass' from the Ministry of Manpower. Okay, i have to pause here to say, yes, it really is called the Ministry of Manpower! Brilliant. I have also got internet in my flat, and i've bought everything you need to start life in a new city, from a garlic crusher to a sofa! It has been so hectic, but I feel like this is home; at least for now. I'm yet to get a proper mobile contract but my fear of commitment is being pushed to it's limits (the apartment is rented on a 2 year lease
(this is the norm) and my contract at school is 3 years!) so i'm holding off on the phone for the moment and just sticking with pay-as-you-go! Baby steps!
I've held off on the major tourist attractions as i know i'll be doing them multiple times once people start to visit! I have, however been over to Sentosa Island - it rained the entire time i was there, which made the cable car ride over an interesting experience! Talking of which, the rain here is incredible! It is always warm but when it rains it really does pelt it down and then usually after an hour or two it is over and back to it's usual sunny/humid temperature. I've also been to Little India and had the most incredible meal courtesy of the school. I visited China Town and had a massage (of course!) and ate at the incredible Hawker Market there. (Hawker markets are basically street food stalls that aren't allowed to sell on the streets, so you get these large areas, usually covered, with between 10 and 70 stalls, depending on the size, all selling 'street' food... each dish costs about $4 (£2) and this is where
most locals eat because it is so much cheaper than cooking yourself. (When i was looking round apartments a lot didn't even have an oven because of this!) I have also wandered around Orchard and all the shopping malls there and of course have explored my local area; Hillview and Bukit Batok.
I get a bus to school each morning (it takes 20 minutes door to door, which is great) and if i want to go into town I take a 10 minute bus and then jump on the MRT. At this point I should mention that whilst it is humid and hot outside both the buses and MRT have got air conditioning in a BIG way so a cardi is a must out here! Getting around Singapore is similar to getting round London the main differences being the air conditioning and the price (a journey here costs about 40-50p on the bus and about £1 on the MRT). Oh, and the other difference is the cleanliness! You just don't see rubbish here. It's lovely. When i told people i was moving here a lot immediately responded with, 'oh yeh, it's supposed to be really clean out there and
I love the architecture here.
I love looking up and seeing all the green spaces that are above the ground.
a bit characterless. And you can't chew gum!' You can't chew gum - i'm fine with that. It is clean, which is a good thing. And as for characterless, I don't think so. You just have to look at the buildings to see the character; when land is sold they have to recreate the same amount of green space that the building takes up, somewhere up the building, so you see these incredible green spaces mid way up buildings. You can also see the character in the hawker markets, where you get bombarded with smells, sounds and an array of languages, cultures and people.
The school i'm to be teaching at has put on lots of 'socials' to help us 'newbies' get to know each other and to help us settle in and feel at home.. it's been incredible and according to those who've done this international teaching malarky before, this school has done the induction extremely well. We've done so much socialising and 'getting to know you' drinks/dinners/bbq's etc that I can't wait to start school and get into a 'normal' routine as i'm knackered! In fact i've just returned from a bbq on the West Coast with
'50' fly by.. so so clever!
both the new starters and the current teachers, so i've just met my team, who seem absolutely lovely. So many friendly faces and happy workers... got to be a good sign.
Yes. I like it here. I think it will do me fine for the moment. Now i just have to hope I enjoy the actual work!!
(More photos right at the bottom of the page.. keep scrolling down to see them!)
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