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Learning about Singapore

I arrived here with a perception of something my grandmother had told me over 30 years ago. It stuck in my mind and made me dismiss this place as not worth visiting. Until that is, a friend mentioned it and said that I could land there on my journey to Southeast Asia.

It was too dirty, they wouldn’t even let us off the plane. I don’t want to go there again!

They had to fumigate the plane before we could leave.

by Nancy Quinn- my much loved & missed  grandma.. circ.1984 ish

Those days they did protect the passengers because of what was on the plane, not because of what is outside. (You smoked on planes during the 80s.)

I would also guess that the Singapore of the 1980s and today are in contrast two very different places.

Anyway, what awaited me as I travelled was an amazing place- a fusion of East and West. This country has been slowly attracting the world to its shores for a long time.

It has by far the best Airport in the world. consecutively winning for over 7 years. Says a lot about the country and what it stands for.

Want to learn about Singapore? Then below are a few suggestions that will give you a prelude to what this place was and how it became a powerhouse in South East Asia. It is one of four of what is known as Asian Tigers which also include Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea.

For me, the beauty of Singapore doesn’t lie in its sterile environment as some people think. Yes, it is a clean city-state, people respect the law.

It is also not in the ability to live in the east as you would in the west in a good life. Of which many people choose to stay here because it gives you the best of both worlds.

It is about the cultural aspects of the place. They have managed to accommodate 4 main ethnicities in a small area that not only live together peacefully but thrive for the better of the country.

It cannot be understated that it was not all plain sailing. The 1960’s was a turbulent time for Singapore.

The Man responsible for this work was the Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Who for 30 years was in power and took this island with nothing into something special that it is today. You will notice from my choice of books he features many times. Mainly because I feel he is as important to the success of Singapore as was Churchill to Great Britain and Gandhi to India.

I recommend if you want to understand more about Singapore then these are a good start.

Books

  1. Lee Kuan Yew-unofficial biography by Ethan Ang
  2. The charismatic leader Lee Kuan Yew and the rise of Singapore as an Asian tiger
  3. The Singapore Story- memoirs by Lee Kuan Yew
  4. The other side of Paradise by Margaret Mayhew fictional story based upon a girl’s impression of Singapore during the 1940s including the occupation by the Japanese.
  5. From the Third world to First- the Singapore story 1965-2000
  6. Singapore History: Precolonial Era, by Henry Albinson.
  7. Singapore: Smart city, smart state by Kent E.Calder
  8. Singapore: Unlikely power by John Curtis

Movies

Crazy Rich Asians will probably the most famous recently and it at least shows you some of the places in Singapore that make it special. Pay a visit to the Hawker centre in the movie at Newton. Although in my opinion, they are all good.

Cultural Places to visit

  1. Chinatown Heritage Centre
  2. Indian Muslim Heritage Centre
  3. Malay Heritage Centre
  4. Raffles Hotel

The top three alone will show you as much about Singapore you would wish to know. Raffles is a place that will show you the style, ambiance of the British era of rule in what was a pivotal place in the world as far as trade and strategic security of the empire.

Documentaries

Serangoon Road

More of a series rather than a documentary, but it gives you an insight into what this place was like to the few that stayed before independence. And how it shaped what the country went onto become with the people that made it their own.

Music

This was hard, as a lot of music in Singapore has roots in either Malay or Chinese but there are a few worth searching for. But two you can look for are Miss Lou a classic singer and songwriter and local legend TheLionCity boy a local rapper.

There are many more things to look for in Singapore the artistic side is at the forefront of the city. There is a real change in the thinking behind free speech. For a long time, it was regarded as taboo, but now people’s ideas are becoming reality.

A good sign of change i guess

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