Monday, March 23, 2009

Hello from Singapore

Hello! That is the common greeting in Singapore. Singapore was once an English colony just like America. Singapore has been a crossroads on the trading routes for hundreds of years with people from India, Malaysia, China, Holland, Portugal, and England. There were so many different languages it made it difficult to do business. When the English came they brought their language and over the years the people developed a language called Singlish. Singlish is a combination of English and words from all the other languages. The government has promoted the Speak Good English Movement because they think that when business people arrive in Singapore and hear Singlish they don’t take the businessperson seriously.

Because so many different people came here to work and live there are interesting walking tours. We took a walking tour of the Chinese neighborhood where the traditional homes have been beautifully restored. They are called shop houses because they had their shop on the ground floor and lived in the top floors. Many of the shops have bamboo eaves above the shop because bamboo symbolizes luck and success.

One day we took a cable car to Sentosa Island. At one time there was a fort to defend it from invaders especially during World War II. After the war the island was developed as a recreation area and named Sentosa, which means "peace." It is an improvement over the former name, which meant "death from behind." We made two friends, Summer S. and Evelyn B. They are students learning to be tour guides. They told us about things to do on Sentosa. Our favorite was the Images of Singapore where we learned about life in Singapore past and present. One display showed Malay children playing hopscotch and playing with a top. Seems that all children like the same things. Our guides told us that in Singapore, "The World becomes one because it is where the four winds come together. From the East we get our strong sense of family, from India we get our idea of peace, from Malaysia our sense of community and from Europe our need for harmony."

One of the most exciting things to do in Singapore is to go on Night Safari. Many jungle animals are nocturnal. From the tram tour we saw lions, hyenas, jackals, and other night animals on the prowl. The lights are dim like it would be a full moon night and fences were so well disguised that we couldn’t see them. They also had a native group from Borneo that did an incredible fire-eating show. We could feel the heat from the flames and couldn’t figure out why they didn’t get burned.
We also went to the Science Museum with amazing optical illusions and educational displays. They even had an area called Snow City. It is very hot in Singapore and it never snows so people are fascinated by snow. They love to touch it to experience how cold it is. They can’t imagine living someplace where it snows.

Singapore has the world’s tallest Ferris wheel called The Flyer. It is 541-feet high. Each "car" can carry 28 people. The view of the city from the top is amazing. There are so many things to do in Singapore that we want to visit again. But, we must remember not to bring any gum. It is against the law to bring chewing gum into Singapore because people where spitting it on the sidewalks and sticking it places. Singapore is a very neat and clean county. Maybe this is not such a bad idea.