Posted by: rbbadger | December 31, 2008

Greetings from Singapore

Well, we had a couple of days off for the New Year’s holiday, so I decided to come down to Singapore.  Singapore is a very small country located on an island just south of Malaysia.  Like its larger neighbour, it was a British colony.  Upon independence it merged with Malaysia, only to be kicked out one year later.  The majority of the people here are Chinese.  But there are also significant Malay and Indian populations as well.  In its never ending endeavour to inculcate interracial harmony, the government has chosen English as the main language, something which is very convenient for us native English speakers.  However, on major occasions, the Prime Minister will give speeches in English, Mandarin, Tamil, and Malay.  However, there are four official languages (!), namely English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil.  All subway stations are marked in all four languages.

It is very hot here, so I suppose it was a good escape from the Siberian blasts of Seoul.  Today’s highs will be in the 80s, but with about 70% humidity.  I think this is a bit like what Cambodia is like, I imagine.

Today, I visited the Thian Hock Keng Temple, a Daoist temple in Chinatown.  It seems very funny for a city-state that is mostly Chinese to have a Chinatown, but they do have one.  It is a Daoist temple.  My sole experience of Asian temples until now has been Buddhist temples.  Interestingly enough, there were statues of not only Guan Yin (the Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara known in Korean as Kwan Eum) a favourite figure in Mahayana Buddhism but a statue of Confucius as well.

My plans while here are hopefully to visit the Asian Civilisations Museum, the Merlion Park, the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (Dr. Sun spent time here in his quest to drum up Overseas Chinese support to rid China of the Qing Dynasty), and a few other places.  I am going to remain careful not to push too hard, as the heat here is quite extaordinary.

Anyhow, so far I am very favourably impressed by this small country.  It is even smaller in area than Hong Kong is.  It is very clean (littering is an offense punishable by a fine of S$200 for the first offense and higher with each subsequent one) and very safe.  As I’ve mentioned before, certain crimes, including vandalism are punishable by caning.

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Responses

  1. Have a good trip and thanks for blogging!


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