Singapore is derived from the Malay words Singa meaning lion and pura meaning city. It was a Srivijayan prince, Sang Nila Utama from Palembang, Indonesia who named the land for he saw a beast that looked like a lion when he landed at the mouth of the Singapore River in 1324. Thus, the Merlion was designed as the state symbol of Singapore. It is half lion that represents Singapore’s name and half fish that represents Singapore’s origin as a fishing village.
In 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore. He founded a trading post of the East India Company with permission from the Sultanate of Johor (see My Adventures – Johor Bahru Side Trip). Eventually, the British obtained full sovereignty over the land that changed the destiny of the country from an obscure fishing village to a great seaport and modern metropolis.
As only a dot at the end of the Peninsula Malaysia, Singapore is among the 20 smallest countries in the world. Yet as the saying goes “small is terrible”, it has bagged a long list of superlatives – no. 1 airport, world’s busiest transshipment port, world’s first night safari, world’s largest fountain, etc.
Now, Singapore has become one of the most visited countries in the world. It is a dynamic country rich in contrast and color where you can find a harmonious blend of culture, cuisine, arts, and architecture. It is because there are four races in the country – the Chinese, Indian, Malay, and Filipino.
With that, Singapore also has diverse languages and religion – Buddhism for the Chinese, Hinduism for the Indians, Islam for the Malays, and Christianity for the Filipinos. Being the majority group, there are plenty of Chinese temples in the country. Second in number are the Hindu temples and third are the mosques. And being the minority group, Christian churches are only a few. I was given the chance to visit these various houses of worship and witness an assortment of tradition!
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Even an Indian Prays Inside a Chinese Temple
Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple
Singapore’s Tallest Hindu Temple
Additionally, there are two villages of culture concentration in Singapore. There’s the Chinatown for the Chinese wherein there are plenty of bazaars that sell cheap Chinese goods and food centers that serve Chinese cuisine. There’s also Little India for the Indians wherein there are shops that sell Indian goods as well as little restaurants that serve pure Indian cuisine. Aside from that, the Malays also have their share of the land by having big fairs during Ras as-Sanah al-Hijriyah or the Islamic New Year.
Common people in Singapore live in Housing Development Board flats (HDB’s). With the country’s high cost of living, these are the most affordable ones. Those who have higher salaries live in condominiums. These condos are just the same as HDB’s but they have additional facilities like swimming pools, gym, playground, etc. But for the millionaires, they can have the landed houses with garage. These are just like the townhouses in the Philippines that have limited space. Moreover, there are also shophouses in the business districts wherein the ground floor is used as a shop and the second floor is used as a house.
I had experienced living in Singapore for a while. I was surprised with their sunrise at 7am and sunset at 7pm. I had also observed that it rains continuously for long hours but rain doesn’t pour heavily. All people are always in a hurry but the youngsters are so respectfully that they always give way to the elderly. Even the government prioritizes the elderly by providing them jobs and health care.
Singapore is a very clean country – clean for no corruption, no pollution, and no crimes. There are plenty of rules and all people living there are so disciplined. I love being there because I feel so safe even at the most isolated and darkest corner of the country for it has CCTV’s everywhere that I fondly call it as the Big Brother Country.
With that, Singapore is very unique not just with its diverse people, culture, and religion but also with its good governance and lifestyle. Know more about Singapore as I will take you to a tour around the country in my next post!
For My Third Visit in Singapore
Singapore by Feet
My SG Top Picks
Treating the Tastebuds at Jalan Makanan
Braving a Historical Journey at Fort Siloso
Cute Little Somethings Along Haji Lane
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum