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Breakfast at Raffles

A Taste of Singapore

semi-overcast 32 °C
View Through Siberia to China and Beyond on Hawkson's travel map.

We’ve slipped back north over the equator for a few days holiday to experience a touch of winter, and it’s a brrr-ingly chilly 32 degrees here in Singapore...
This island nation was founded as a British colony in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles against the orders of the British Government. The Dutch had colonized much of the East Indies at that time and Britain feared reprisals for muscling in on their territory. However, apart from a few harsh words, nothing happened, and Singapore ultimately developed into one of the richest trading posts in the world. Today’s Singapore is still wealthy. Its cosmopolitan population is highly educated and it probably has the most civilized traffic in the world. There are no clapped out clunkers, fume spewers, pavement parkers or red light runners, and all pedestrians, (other than tourists and recent immigrants), stick firmly to the crosswalks and wait for the little green man.
However, there is a price. The penalty for jaywalking is 3 months jail, and no one can buy or keep a car without a government’s COE (Certificate of Entitlement). The going price for a small car’s certificate is about eighty thousand dollars, (£55,000), not including the price of the car. The COE lasts ten years and at the end of that time the car has to be scrapped and the owner has to pay for a new COE if he wants to buy a new one. It’s no wonder that Singapore roads often look like this….
But cars are not the only expensive items on offer here and the city is crammed with up-market shopping malls. Singapore is a shopaholic’s magnet, drawing the well-healed from all over the region, but any saving on a bit of bling is soon squandered on the price of a bed. Ritzy hotels charge upwards of a thousand dollars a night and none come ritzier than Raffles…
We couldn’t resist the fabulous buffet breakfast in the Tiffin Room – (Just don’t ask the price!) – and here’s James sitting in Somerset Maugham’s favourite chair in the Writer’s Bar, (Where else!)…
Singapore must boast more restaurants per square mile than anywhere else on Earth and even street venders, prevalent in this part of the world, have been spruced up and moved indoors. Food and drink from every corner of the world is on offer and, while Singaporean Joe can still get a decent meal for about ten bucks, there are plenty of pricey joints on the waterfront asking a couple of hundred dollars for a lobster dinner.
Singapore is renowned for its cleanliness, although it received a certain amount of international derision in 1992 when the government made the selling, importation and chewing of gum illegal - laugh all you want: the pavements are entirely splodge free because the fine is $1,000. But Singapore is more than smart boulevards, swanky shops, fancy eateries and clean streets. This small island has a wealth of historic buildings, excellent museums and beautifully maintained parks and gardens. Here are just a few of the amazing tropical plants in the Botanical Gardens…large_P1000111.jpgP1000109.jpgP1000078.jpg
So if you want to get a flavor of southeast Asia without risking life and limb on the roads, where everyone speaks English and you can safely drink the water from the tap – then Singapore is the place for you, (Just bring plenty of cash).

Posted by Hawkson 01:59 Archived in Singapore

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Ah...How I loved it there!

by liz

The absence of cars suggests good public transport the ideal place for tourists. Enjoy yourselves

by Jean and David

Even the name Raffles conjures up romance.....
even if you forfeit the family fortune for a Singapore Sling (did you have one?)
Happy New Year you two....

by Sharron

This sounds prohibitive as a destination for us. Oh well we can at least drool over the travel docs.

by Janet

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