There’s one city-state and island country (it’s usually known as Singapore Island) which consists of about 63 other smaller islets that is well known for its tolerance to religions, ethnic groups and is a multi-language country. Its motto is “Majulah Singapura” which means Onward Singapore in Malay and this is part of the national anthem and flag.
Yes, exactly. The flag of Singapore contains two horizontal stripes (a red and white one) with a crescent and five stars placed in the red background. Its symbolism is quite clear expressing the major ideas of tolerance of this multi in all aspects country. The red colour is the symbol of equality between people while the white one stands for purity, the crescent is youth while the 5 stars are the country’s ideals – democracy, progress, peace, equality and law. This is, let’s say, the official symbolism while there’s another interpretation relating the 5 stars to the 5 nations living in Singapore that are united under this motto – Mujalah Singapura. As to the languages spoken, the country is today’s Babylon where there are four official languages – English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil.
The name Singapore derives from Malay and means The Lion City. The name was given by the 13th century settlers who reached the coast of Singapore and noticed a strange creature that resembled a lion. By the way, the symbol of Singapore is a mythical creature called Merlion that is half lion, half fish and the city possesses five statues (more than 8 metres high and 70 tons in weight each) dedicated to it spread out in the central zones. Nowadays the “lion” name represents perfectly the role of country in the Asian and global economies – it’s a true economic lion. I will open a bracket here. At school we were taught that there are four Asian tigers, one of them being Singapore, while the lions are in Africa (i.e. some African booming economies are known as the African Lions). But everything changes and obviously, Singapore the Tiger has become Singapore the Lion, according to the most recent classification of the fast developing states ….. 😀 The bracket is closed. And now let’s move on.
What are the most distinctive sites to visit and things to do in Singapore that’s supposed to be one of the cleanest cities in the world as well as it’s renowned for its rigid laws?
In the first place, one can enjoy a true palette of colourfully painted shophouses. These are buildings whose ground floors are used as shops for souvenirs and other items while the other floors are their owners’ dwellings. Principally, the first shophouses were built by the Chinese who brought their building traditions to Singapore. Step-by-step other building elements were “rented”, especially from the colonists’ building styles. Being on the topic of the Chinese nation in Singapore, I should mention that there is a statue of a laughing Budha in front of almost every shophouse and a common belief is that if one pets its belly, it will bring much luck to them. That tradition is similar to a European one, i.e. a tourist attraction is to touch one of the breasts of the statue of Juliet in the yard in front of her house in Verona and thus couples are believed to be in love forever and ever.
Much brightness and a diversity of colours are brought also by the other biggest nation in Singapore – the Indians with their colourful floral necklaces. They are prepared from various flowers like orchids, lotus, frangipani, chrysanthemums, roses and jasmine. Did you imagine that floral picture already? It’s lovely, isn’t it? 🙂 Principally, the Indians have a religious tradition of stringing floral garlands. They usually must start stringing them early in the morning and anyone who is involved in this activity must have a bath first. Nobody’s allowed to smell the flowers while stringing them and the flowers that have fallen on the ground are not used further. As it’s a religious tradition the preparation of floral necklaces is accompanied by mantras which are cited during the whole process of stringing. When a versicoloured floral garland is ready it’s dedicated to a couple of Gods thus showing respect to them. Nowadays, as it usually happens, this tradition has been greatly commercialized and floral necklaces are freely sold as souvenirs everywhere.
Speaking about flowers, a must visit is the 74-hectare Singapore Botanic Gardens. It’s the single garden in the world that is open almost 24/7 (from 5am till midnight) yearly and moreover, there are no entrance fees, except for the Gardens of Orchids. Plants are arranged in four “seasonal” zones there, each dedicated to one of the four seasons. There is no doubt that the Queen of Flowers is Orchid which is the national flower of Singapore. If you’re interested in knowing what the origin of the name is and what it means, just ask Mr Google about the meaning of the original Greek word “orchis”. It’s gonna be your homework. 😉 Apart from Regina Orchid, there’s a great variety of other plants and trees like Ginger, Bottle palm tree and Traveller’s palm, Silk cotton tree and so on, and so on.
As Singapore is well known as one of the cleanest cities, a common (tourist) means of transport is a cycle rickshaw (or velo’s rickshaw). It’s really a healthy, comfortable and pleasant, cheap and ecological way of moving from point A to point B in the city (and already in some European cities like Paris, for instance). However, there’s another interesting way of travelling around the city for lazier tourists – Duck Tours. These are bus-boats, boat-buses, call them as you wish. The whole idea is that such a vehicle travels around the city as a bus and when it approaches The Singapore River it jumps into its waters and turns into a boat. Nice, a? 😉
So, if one dares to choose one of these means of transport, they can reach the largest infinity (vanishing) edge pool in the world or the largest fountain worldwide – The Fountain of Wealth. The latter was listed and nominated by the Guinnes Book of Records at the end of last century. Actually, the circle fountain consists of two pieces: a mini-fountain that works when the larger one is turned off during some periods of the day. The huge bronze circle (usually illuminated colourfully by night) with its four massive pillars has been formed according to Mandala (a spiritual symbol in Buddhism and Hinduism) and it symbolizes the union of Spirit and Matter, the equality and harmony of all of the religions in Singapore. The falling water also has its own mystical meaning: water is the symbol of health and prosperity in the Chinese culture, on the one hand, and according to Fun Shui, it’s related to the increasing wealth of the country, on the other hand.
And finally, Singapore offers a perfect attraction for all night birds. If one can’t fall asleep and wants to feel the rhythm of the city to the max, they can enroll in a night safari. The thrill is entirely guaranteed. When the Moon starts shining all enthusiasts are taken from their hotels late at night and after some time they are transported to the right place – the single night zoo in the world that is located in a real dense tropical forest where scary lions and other beasts hover and stick around and spoil the deadly silence of the night….. Aaaah 😀