As my plane landed at Singapore's Changi airport, I was slightly sad upon realising that this would be my final country after five months on this magical continent. I turned that frown upside down and transformed it into a enormous smile as I set foot on Singaporean soil, excited about the fun filled four days that lay ahead of me. I was determined to depart Asia with a bang so large that it would make my entrance look microscopic!
I began my first full day in Singapore by exploring the Colonial District. It's central square contained a statue of Sir Thomas Raffles who upon arrival in Singapore in 1819 transformed the formerly swampy island to a strategic base for the British Empire. In 1965, the Singaporeans obtained independence but many buildings erected by the British remain, including the Old Parliament House, St Andrews Cathedral and City Hall. All of these buildings provided wonderful photo opportunities.
The Asian Civilisations Museum contained ten galleries on various aspects of Asian Culture. These included religion, food, and drink and my favourite, vernacular architecture. As well as taking the guided tour by a German volunteer, I spent several hours exploring the treasure trove of artefacts which the museum exhibited.
Singapore is world renowned for its cleanliness. Chewing gum for instance has been banned as has smoking in public places.
On my second day, I strolled around the Gardens by the Bay which aroused and stimulated the senses to unprecedented levels. Colourful flowers and abundant wildlife provided me with hours of relaxation. The highlight of my visit was the Skyway, which was a long viewing platform high above the Gardens which provided stunning views and vistas of the flora and fauna as well as the towering skyscrapers in the distance.
That evening, I took a Night Safari in a 40 hectare forested park. Here I saw tigers, lions, leopards, elephants, snakes and insects. A train escorted us around the circumference of the park and it was a pleasure to see the animals from the comfort of my own private carriage.
My last morning in Singapore was spent exploring ethnic enclaves in the city including Chinatown and Little India. In these areas, I sampled their street food, browsed at the markets, and explored their places of worship.
That afternoon I made my way to the airport, where a flight would escort me to Melbourne, Australia. My time in Asia had come to an end but I promised to return to visit India, China, and Japan on another trip. In the meantime, I had another continent to explore, Australasia. This would entail a month in Australia and another month in New Zealand as well as two separate blog entries and endless speech material for my beloved Dundalk Toastmasters.
by Lee Maguire
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