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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 73: Museums and bacon sandwiches

SINGAPORE | Thursday, 17 January 2008 | Views [677]

Thursday 17th January

Although the MRT makes things easy and quick to get about town, I prefer to use my feet so you get to see more of the place close up when overground. It also helps to get your bearings. I walked to Chinatown, where I came across preparations for the Chinese New Year, which is taking place over 7th to 15th February. It's a busy area, with a lot of stalls selling many types of food and tourist souvenirs. There are also many places to eat, so I grabbed some more noodles at the Maxwell Road Food Centre and made my way into town shortly after lunch.

My main plan for the day was to visit the Asian Civilisations Museum by the river, and it turned out to be an excellent museum, presenting the history of SE Asia, it's different races, cultures, and history. So, there was a lot going on, and the displays and videos conveyed the many stories very well. A small section on the history of Singapore at the beginning was particularly interesting, describing how it had started out as an important trading hub, and home to people from all over Asia and for colonialists from the past such as the Dutch, the British and the Portuguese. It is very much the same today, as the melting-pot of nationalities continues to define the city. The other nations in the so-called ASEAN confederation were also represented, with many artefacts on display to help bring all of their histories and cultures to life.

I left the museum and wandered back along the quays, via the bars and restaurants of Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, areas that had undergone heavy development and modernisation in recent decades. The regeneration of the city was kick-started in the mid-1980s, when the boats and the people who traded on them – making the Singapore River a 'working' thoroughfare through the centre of the island – were relocated to the outskirts of the city. Around the river grew the skyscrapers and the huge corporations that now dominate the centre of town. The Quays area serves as the food and watering hole for many of the affluent business people and tourists who bring huge amounts of money into Singapore.

For dinner, Mark, Jess and I went to a restaurant that specialises in Peranakan food, which is basically a cross between Malay and Chinese cuisine, and very tasty it was too. We tucked into soft shell crab, beef rendang, vegetable sambal ('sambal' is a kind of fish flavouring of which I am not that fond) and a few other dishes that I was more than happy to let the guys order on my behalf. If it was put on the table, it was always going to get eaten. It was good to go to dinner with someone 'in the know', although the chances of ordering a poor meal in Singapore seems to be quite low compared to many other places.

Tags: Sightseeing


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