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The Multicultural Singapore
Singapore is the new melting pot in Asia, wherein all the people who are living and working above poverty line. The business climate is so vigorous that almost everyone in Singapore have their own source of income. The judicial system is also strict that even well-known personalities in business were penalized (even the wrongly accused Filipina domestic helper Flor Contemplacion on the alleged killing of her fellow Filipina DH Delia Maga). Every country has its own backlogs but it didn’t stop Singapore for attaining its title as the most progressive nation in the region. Being at the “crossroads of the world”, it has one of the highest per capita GDPs (Gross Domestic Product) in the world.
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Another irony is that Singapore is also a haven of opportunistic sex pimps and traders that lure prospective girls from neighboring countries (like Philippiness, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, et cetera) by offering them lucrative jobs as domestic helpers, not knowing that they will be victimized by these sex syndicates. Of course, prostitution is rampant in every country, although it is always hidden from the eyes of the law or so it seems.
What attracts people from around the world is the stable economy of the city and other good opportunities that await professionals to have an established joob and good salary.
Travel Man's outlook
I’ve been to the anchorage area of Singapore many times in 2001, 2004 and 2007. Our vessel is always buying bunker fuel there because of its cheap price. It is used as the chief fuel in ship’s machineries. We even went ashore during one of our stay at Singapore waters which is an international free-trade zone. You can see lots of merchant ships, from biggest to smallest coming from different parts of the world to load and unload cargoes, from grains to crude oil, and other imported goods.
From the Philippines, it will only take three and a half hours to get there for about USD 300 dollars. From the international airport of Singapore, you can easily admire the diversities of people living there because of the stores inside the vicinity.
In 2004, my fellow Filipino seafarers and I happened to embark in the coast of Singapore. While waiting for our service boat that will ferry us to the anchored vessel, we curiously strolled along the airport stores (most are run by Duty Free Singapore) and ate at the food court there, We easily exchanged our local money (Philippine peso) into Singaporean dollar. The noodles are cheap but very good to the taste. There are many souvenir items to choose from that you can buy. The only problem is your budget.
Street Hawker Haven
Residents of Singapore are mainly Chinese. Others are Indians, Malaysians,, Filipinos, and other expatriates who are working there. They transformed this once fishing village into a highly-commercialized island city. Once you visit Singapore, your handful of change or money coins will still be valuable by eating at the hawker center or food stalls lined up in the main streets of the city. You can eat like a king and sample the many food variations or fusion cuisine in the city.
Chinese food is incredibly varied depending on the region from which is was derived. Sichuan chicken is really the best among them. You can also enjoy the sweeter version of it Canton style. Chicken with rice toppings is also a specialty in Hainan province. If you want a simplified boiled or poached chicken with light soy sauce and sesame oil served with rice and chicken-flavored broth, you can enjoy it at affordable price. It is so popular that it’s sometimes referred as Singapore’s national dish.
Noodles is another popular street food, like here in the Philippines. Try Hokkien mee (noodles fried with pork, prawns and bean sprout we used to call toge) and char kway teow (rice noodles with clams, sausage, eggs and bean sprouts in sweet black sauce or oyster sauce). Mee pok, a dish of noodles and fish balls , is another popular Singaporean dish. The cost of these popular dishes ranges from 3-5 Singaporean dollars. The price I’ve paid was two to three years ago. I think there’s only a slight difference when it comes to the prevalent prices of these street food.
Malay cuisine is somewhat akin to Filipino dishes that favors ginger, chilli, turmeric, lemongrass, lime leaves, coconut milk, peanuts, dried shrimp paste (we call it dinilan in Bicol dialect) and dried fish (we call it tuyo, as in dried herring). The most common curries are rending served with meat, and spicy red sambal (the hot-sweet taste of sambal ground pepper with vinegar and sugar makes it a favored appetizer onboard ship). The most popular street food is none other than satay, or pieces of meat coated in a peanut marinade spiced with cumin and chili (less that 1 Singaporean dollar per stick) and barbecued on open coals. Don’t ever finish your trip without indulging or eating chili crab. Perankan or Nonya food (combination of Chinese and Malaysian influences) is an example of fusion cuisine. Try eating the most famous dish called laksa, a combination of noodles and vegetables, meat or seafood in a spicy coconut soup (only costs as little as 4 Singaporean dollars).
Indian cuisine also abounds in Singapore. It is also based on coconut milk and features roaring hot curries (Sothern Indian cuisine), like vindaloo, accompanied by rice and thin breads. Many dishes are for vegetarian like lentils and chickpeas. Northern Indian food is milder and delicately blended. Tandoor chicken is the best and the fish cooked in clay oven. For those having a night out, murtabak is a popular choice, a street dish of meat and curry served on top with a roti pancake (only costs 3 Singaporean dollars). Fried roti prata can be eaten alone as a snack, particularly when you are going home after work or some gimmicks with friends and family. Indian food at the hawker centers are often serve up on a banana leaf (it’s meant to be eaten by hand).
Places to visit
Singapore have many high-rise buildings. Due to its increasing population of more than 4.8 million people and the limited land area, the only way to accommodate the people is to build tall buildings.
You will never be lost in Singapore. You can avail of MRT (metro rail transit) trains to visit Botanic Gardens (on Cluny Road) , Centrepoint Shopping Center (on Orchard Road), Newton Circus ( a popular hawker center for tourists) and of course the Food Street (actually Smith Street) in Chinatown. Or you can stay in one of the rooms of Rasa Sentosa Hotel at Sentosa Island.
You can easily mingle with people of different nationalities. You can talk in Malay, Mandarin, Tamil or preferably English language if you want to ask for the place to visit. You can also go to churches of different religious denominations, like Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Taoism. The warning to every visitor is to observe cleanliness at all times. You will be penalized if you get caught throwing a butt of cigarette on the street.
The Merlion, Singapore’s national symbol, has a lion head and a fish body resting on a crest of waves. The lion head symbolizes the rediscovery of Singapore. According to the legend, Prince Sang Nila Utama of the Sri Vijaya Empire saw a best that looked like a lion when he first set foot in Singapore, which was then known as Temasek, a Javanese word for sea. Thus, the island was called “Singapura”which means “Lion City”in Sanskrit. The Merlion symbol was designed in 1964 by Fraser Brunner, a curator of the Van Kleef Aquarium, for the Singapore Tourism Board.
Please check updates if you want to know more about the ethnicity of the city or better yet visit the Lion City for a closer look and appreciation of things and experiences you can find there. It's worth a try because, summer time offers affordable travel fares, especially in Singapore.
Singapore - The Place To Be
Prostitution thrives in Singapore by AlJazeeraEnglish
Singapore on Discovery Channel (by vividehaha)
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