East’s great cultural melting pot'
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An introduction to Singapore
Singapore, the amazing centrepiece of southeast
Asia, is a cultural pot pourri that leaves the surprised visitor
dazzled by the containment of so many influences and cultures all
on one small island. Sir Stamford Raffles, a 19th-century British
civil servant, brought the ‘Lion City’
to the world's attention after seeking a trading station to counter
the Dutch influence in the Straits of Malacca, and trade is still
the island’s mainstay.
Singapore is a happy clashing of opposites – classy and
at the famed Raffles Hotel, but laid-back and low-priced in the food
markets of Bugis Junction and Clarke Quay. City Sites
include superb shopping in Orchard Road, the cultural
quarters of Chinatown, Geylang Serai
and Little India containing the world’s first
night safari. An impeccably clean city, nothing is permitted to
dull the shine – even down to the banning of chewing gum.
Still the natural world is never far off, Bukit Timah Nature
Reserve enjoys a superb area of primary lush
within its boundaries, and for those seeking adventure, Sungei
Buluh Nature Park offers the opportunity for trekking.
Visit Pulau Ubin’s mangrove forest, a bumboat’s ride
from Changi jetty, or Kusu site of Taoists’ annual pilgrimage.
Culture lovers can savour the mixture
of Chinese, Malay and Indian
cultures, the main ethnic groups, with gardens, parks, museums,
mosques, temples and synagogues testimony to the island’s
rich national heritage.