Recently I have been exploring some of Singapore sights and enjoying the diversity of this lovely city state. It’s amazing to realise that even after more than a year living here there are still so many things to do and see.
The Changi Museum tells you about the horrors of the Japanese occupation during WWII. We took the self guided audio tour which was really interesting and the little chapel outside was a nice place to stop and contemplate.
I could feel there was a sense of disappointment that the British did not do more to stand up for Singapore. Many Singaporeans felt the British did very little fight against the Japanese. This is perhaps one of the reasons that the anti-colonial movement started. Certainly Mr Lee Kuan Yew, after experiencing the harsh rule of the Japanese, felt that only Singaporeans could truly defend and protect their own country. He went on to ensure that the local people also had a vested interest in protecting Singapore.
The Singapore City Gallery is also a fascinating place. Managed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), it showcases how Singapore has developed as well as its ability to plan. You can see how things have changed over the years and even take a look at models of the island and the central business district (CBD). These models include the existing buildings, parks and public transport but also future buildings and developments.
Architectural ideas are showcased as cardboard models and the URA even shares it’s long term concept plan, looking forward around 50 years. This is not a definite plan but more a dicussion of possibilities. This gallery makes you understand that nothing in Singapore happens by accident, instead it is planned many, many years in advance by a forward thinking government.
Last weekend we were lucky enough to visit The Istana and its generous grounds and gardens on one of its open days, which happen only five times a year. This British colonial building was constructed between 1867 and 1869 primarily by Indian convicts. It wasn’t until 1959, when Singapore obtained self government, that the building was handed to the Singapore government and renamed to Istana, meaning Palace in Malay. It is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Singapore although the majority of Singapore presidents choose not to live there.
We went on a guided tour of the building which we really enjoyed even though only the ground floor was open to the public. It’s hard to believe this large piece of land, in a prime location on Orchard road, is still undeveloped and even has a 9 hole golf course. It must be a fantastic place for Singapore officials to show their international guests just how beautiful a place Singapore it. From the top of the hill near the palace the view down to the CBD is almost surreal through the trees.
All three of these well worth the visit and there are still many other spots to explore!