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Thursday, 27 June 2019

Singapore --- The Smartest Megapolis


Founded in 1819 as a trading outpost of the British East India Company, Singapore was only a small dot at the tip of Malay Peninsula, the southernmost part of Asia. For almost half a century, Singapore was ruled from Calcutta. The small colonial post grew so rapidly that in 1965 it was formally declared as an independent city-state. Today it has turned into a global trading hub and has made the entire world its hinterland. Right from stepping into Changi International Airport, indisputably one of the world’s classiest airports, Singapore appealed to us for its crisp, warm and vibrant character. We went there last in 2018 to meet our younger son, a post-doc in Economics at NTU. Our flight touched down in the wee hours of the morning. When we reached our son’s house near Commonwealth metro station, it was still dark outside.  After keeping our baggage in his house, Arjun took us to a neighbouring marketplace for tea. Pleasant surprises were in store for us since the moment we stepped into Singapore. Right from ‘boutique toilets’ at Changi Airport to a cheerful sight of people having tea and breakfast even before dawn sets in were sights which we have not experienced in other parts of the world we have travelled. The strong wisp of tea, coffee and breakfast delicacies was so tempting that we had more than a couple of momos of different varieties and special plum cakes along with refreshing tea. During our stay, we discovered the city to be a gourmet’s delight. Whether it is Holland Village or China Town, the Michelin starred restaurants are all well geared to delight the palates of even the most discriminating foodies. Sometimes I do reminisce my yearning for fried rice prepared at Jimmy’s Kitchen on Theatre Road in Calcutta. But that was in the days gone by. The fried rice we had at Crystal Jade in Holland Village was far superior to what I used to have at Jimmy’s Kitchen half-a-century back. Even the smaller stalls seem to have mastery over culinary art. But the serving that still lingers on my taste buds today was tea along with kaya toasts at Toast Box on Orchard Road. We found Singapore as one of the cleanest cities, compared to cities we have seen around the world. At the same time, it bustles with activities and offers a lot of attractions to the tourists, as the century-old Botanical Gardens, right in downtown Singapore. The only tropical garden honoured as UNESCO World Heritage site, it has a huge collection of orchids. Jurong Bird Park, where we saw Penguins for the first time in our life. These adorable polar birds that walk like humans are a treat to watch. Sentosa, where we had a tryst with Dolphins in the sea aquarium. Never seen a dolphin before. So loving, so friendly. Believed to be one of the smartest creatures on earth. Vaulting out of water or diving down to the ocean floor. They love playing around with their trainers' cum divers. We saw them performing several manoeuvres in their repertoire. The concept of aquarium under the sea deeply fascinated me. Unlike standard aquaria, where marine animals are kept in glass enclosures, here one has to enter a glass chamber surrounded by sea. While the dolphins came to greet us and softly pecked the glass wall with their rostra as a show of love, the sharks menacingly roamed over the glass ceiling above our heads.   Further inside, the S.E.A. aquarium showcased myriads of colourful corals and jellyfish. The corals, in different sizes, shape and colour, appeared like flowers in a marine horticulture garden. The jellies drifted harmlessly with the tangle of their vicious tentacles flowing all over. This country-city turns warm and vibrant when dusk descends. The swanky, tree-lined Orchard Road boulevard is ideal for pleasant strolls. There is a corner off Orchard Road which still retains the colonial feel. The place presents a warm blond of the colonial style buildings, small palazzos and evening gathering of people for their coffee and their aperitifs.

Photo courtesy: Arundhati Sengupta







A typical food plaza found across all localities in Singapore

Holland Village glitters


Crystal Jade

Holland Plaza

Singapore Botanic Gardens is one of the oldest in Asia. It boasts of the largest collection of orchids and is now UNESCO World Heritage site

A view of Singapore Botanics Garden

Jurong Bird Park








On way to Sentosa



Undersea aquarium


Life under the sea is truly amazing. The images captured show how a sea brims with a colourful and incredible menagerie of marine life.


Dolphin









Sea Horse




























The southernmost point of Asia

Fort Siloso constructed during the British rule


Gardens by the bay

Gardens by the bay


Food preparation in Candlenut Restaurant is superb

At REDDOT Beer is brewed and served

A pub at colonial Singapore off Orchard Road










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8 comments:

Mitali Mitra said...

Excellent
Haha...you have mentioned fried rice at Jimmy kitchen
Maybe it was long ago....not now
Dada, what is a boutique toilet?

Mohor Chattoraj said...

Ki sundor lekha r photo guloto asadharon .

Anindita Sanyal said...

খুব ভালো লাগলো। মানস ভ্রমণ করলাম।

Dr Sushma Sengupta said...

I visited Singapore several years back from Delhi. It was mesmerising even then.

Anonymous said...

Excellent.....Singapore is a dreamland and Arundhooti you are our travel guide...Cannot find words to thank you for such a beautiful documentary

Amitava Sen said...

Wonderful pictures, tempting food descriptions, magnificent write up

Ratna Hazra said...

The picture is lovely. I only saw you at the southernmost point of Asia. Wish you had posted more pictures of your own..., selfies you know it adds a personal travels story.
Aquarium pictures were great....was that Ruby in a scuba suit. Can not recognize with your musk on......wow you look so slim and fit. The Jurong bird park Holand Village and Cristal Jade are marvellous.,.
why it is called Holland Village? Did the Dutch build this? How was the Red Dot Beers?

Shipra Sen said...

Fantastic photos and very very well written - a real guide for tourists!