60_G15_InFocus_Singapore

Global Issue 15

In Focus Singapore Linger more, Singapore The island nation is in danger of being lost in transit. Many international travellers use it simply as a hub for less sanitised, but supposedly more exotic, Pacific Rim destinations. Yet the real Singapore, sensual and subtle, lives on, often undiscovered Juliet Highet Chinatown at Chinese New Year: the area still retains its ethnic charm More than three million people visited Singapore last year and most of them only stayed three nights. Why? Could it be that developers have blasted the heart out of the island with its high-rises? Ruined what’s left of the funky ethnic districts and the cultural heritage of the immigrant peoples – the Chinese, Indians and Malays? Has Singapore been over-sanitised, gone too squeaky-clean? Even the transvestite entertainers have been moved on from their haunts on Bugis Street. It’s none of the above. The reason is that Singapore has long been viewed as a convenient jumping-off point for exploration of other Pacific Rim destinations such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong. And very convenient it is too, with its excellent airline connections from one of the world’s best airports. But for those who decide to spend a little more time in this island state, it has a lot more to offer than just state-ofthe art hotels and supposedly bargain shopping opportunities – it’s an island of subtle but vivid ethnic realities. Living in harmony, the multi-national population has preserved not only its differing religious traditions, but its cultures too, with idiosyncratic architecture, crafts and food. Elegant Changi Airport wins awards with almost monotonous regularity. The first impression one receives is how organised and immaculate the island is, along with a standard of cleanliness that Switzerland would envy. Lush greenery lines the main roads, concrete bridges are draped with pink bougainvillea; the whole city is a garden. While most countries have parks in their cities, Singapore is a city in a park. Traveller’s palms and orchids sway in whatever breeze is available at the colonial style grand old hotels like Raffles and Goodwood Park. The island is just one degree above the Equator and it is always hot and humid. 60 l www.global -br ief ing.org thi rd quar ter 2013 global


Global Issue 15
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