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Published: October 15th 2012
Wow, what a weekend. I reckon we've done as much walking in the city as we would have done if we had been walking on a long distance footpath and it was needed cos there is so much to see. Carol's exhausted and isn't complaining even though I've got us to the railway station ready for our next move 3 hours early; infact she's just disappeared to get a foot massage.
It's not possible to do Singapore justice in a brief account. Highlights for us included first of all the initial impression of skyscrapers and masses of building work. Once you scratch the surface of that you realise that there is a totally fascinating master plan in operation with the aim of modernising the city, increasing its area, by land reclamation whilst at the same time as conserving its cultural and historical heritage and securing its economic future.
The people are a completely mixed bag in terms of origin, with Chinese, Malays, Indians plus a good smattering from around the rest of the world. 2.1 of the 5 million total population are "expats". All of the people we came across seemed to be working really hard and were really friendly.
As a result of an earlier master plan (1822) when the original immigrants were placed in distinct and different areas of what is now Singapore it's now possible to visit the Government area, Chinatown, Little India, the Arab district and so on. Each area is so wonderfully different. Much of the original early building in each area is now subject to planning and conservation measures so all that history will always be evident for locals and visitors alike.
The food is fantastic. You can pay an arm and a leg and eat in a nice restaurant or you can eat in a food hall or at the roadside for far less - and you'd be hard pushed to question the quality of the cheaper food. The differential in terms of cost and environment I suppose reflects the difference in wealth amongst the population of the city. The average wage is around £30000 per year, yet Singapore as a whole has the 3rd highest per capita GDP in the world and apparently 1 in 6 households are at least of millionaire status. In other words there is a minority of very wealthy people and a majority of much less well off folk. As a tourist you have to be careful cos you can quite easily bimble into somewhere where a beer is 18 dollars (around £9.00) whilst 2 doors away the same beer would cost 6 dollars.
In amongst the rushing around we did have to do the obvious - the photograph is taken in The Raffles Hotel, with of course, a Singapore Sling being glugged - but only the one each, this was definitely a place frequented by the wealthy minority (and tourists) all of whom pay through the nose!
Tonight we get the sleeper train and head to the north east coast of Malaysia and the Perhentian Islands.
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