View Singapore – Round Island in a larger map
It’s been a month since I left to Singapore, but then with all that happened in Cairo I had other stuff to write about. Now, I honestly want to think about something else – in the meantime I roughly now when I’m going back and have some plans: I will keep you updated!
As I previously told you on my Singapore Photo Essay, I enjoyed the City but couldn’t wait to see what was outside of it.
I couldn’t find much authentic spots or cultural sites in Singapore – yes, there are temples, mosques etc, but everything is so new and modern! I wanted some history. I must be spoiled since I’m Italian? Maybe!
So on the last day of my 1 week stay I decided to invest around S$70 (about €50) for an organized tour of Singapore. It was called “Round Island” and the Tour Operator is “Tour East” – nice word pun, by the way :) – and included a Chinese lunch.
I joined a small group of people (all families and couples, and I was alone, felt a bit weird but… whatever!) and around 9 am in the morning we left the center of Singapore City, heading west.
The first stop was the Haw Par Villa. What I remember about it is that it belonged to the family that created the “Tiger Balm“, something that I always had at home!
The villa and the garden are a Chinese mythological theme park, where the traditional “Chinese Hell” is represented. Gross! But effective I guess.
I sigh with relief. Finally I could see some culture – everything was renewed and didn’t really look ancient, but at least it was not another shopping mall with brands in block capitals and freaking out shopaholics.
When I am on an organized tour, or anyway on any bus that takes me across a country I don’t know, I love to just enjoy the journey and look outside of the window. On the way to the next step (the Kranji War Memorial) I wished to find myself in the wild equatorial forest or at least to see some nature. Yes, there was a lot of green but the highways and little (modern) towns we encountered on the way screw it all up a little bit.
Something that really aroused my interest were the tropical fish farmings: I am an aquarium lover and once owned 3 tanks – had to give up to travel, but when I’ll settle down (when? Don’t know) I will finally have a biiiiig tank again : )
So we went up all the way on the western coast of Singapore, and when we reached the northern tip, we crossed a bridge (Kranji Way) from which we saw Malesia on the other side of the strait. What an inviting sight! But hold on Giulia, next time : )
Finally we got to the Kranji WW2 Memorial. This is a cemetery for the soldiers who died during the Japanese occupation of Singapore, and it’s a very touching place. I personally knew nothing about what happened there, as the history they teach us in school is Europe-centered. I was very touched by the histories that our guide told us. I tried to take some pictures that could express the feeling I had.
Next stop was the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Temple, better known as The Bright Hill Temple. It’s the largest Buddhist Temple in Singapore. The new prayer hall contains a huge Buddha statue. The statue is beautiful… Too bad this hall is so new and modern, that it reminded me …of a gym. (Heretical Giulia)
The rest of the temple is really lovely and colorful. It gave me a feeling of great peace.
Here is something else about me: I “tried” to be practice Buddhism for a while. Why did I give up? I think it’s a good idea for a future post.
The tour continued to the Changi War Museum and Chapel. Another memorial of the World War II and its martyrs.
In the end, I was very satisfied about the tour, totally worth the 70 Singaporean Dollars I paid.
I have a terrible memory for history and geography, and my only way to learn and remember the facts is going there and see the places. Another excuse to travel? : ) Anyway, I am very happy that I learnt something more about Singapore and its history, as this always opens a new point of view on the local population’s background.
Am I weird or do you also look for the cultural side of the places you visit? I had to go alone as no one else wanted to join me. This made me feel like a freak! : )
Someone told me Singapore is the “Dubai of South East of Asia” – would you agree? I have never been to Dubai (only at the airport) but I wonder if I would have the same feeling there… What do you think?