26.06.2014

THE MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRY IN ASIA

THE MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRY IN ASIA, Beyhan Ünal | 26.06.2014

Singapore, the tiny island country wedged between Indonesia and Malaysia, consists of more than 60 islands and it is one of the cleanest and most organized countries in the world. It has very good urban planning. With its ethnic enclaves, trendy malls, marvelous nature, sea, museums, parks and cute villages, it's absolutely a paradise for tourists.

Its history goes back to the11th century. It was set up as a British trading town in 1819 and given a colony rank in 1867. During World War II, it was invaded by the Japanese and finally on the 9th of August, 1965, Singapore declared its independence. Singapore is a parliamentary republic.

Singapore is a country with rich ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. On the island, where approximately 5.5 million people live, 75% of the population is Chinese, 14% is Malay, 9% is Indian, and the rest are minorities. Malay is the official language of the country, but due to the former British rule, English is also very common. The other official language is Tamil. 34% of the population is Buddhist, 18% is Christian, 15% is Muslim and the rest are Taoist and Hindu. You might come across a church, a temple and a mosque all in one neighborhood.

The cuisine also reflects the country's multicultural structure. Compared with other Asian countries, Singapore has a wide variety of dishes. Its cuisine extends from spicy Indian food to Chinese, and even to Malaysian. Furthermore you can easily find all international cuisines in the city. Noodles, the Chinese version of pasta, which is cooked ​​with different types of meats, and the seasoned, grilled, skewered meat, served with a sweet and sour peanut sauce Satay and Bulgogi, grilled beef marinated with sesame oil, are a few of the most important dishes of the Singaporean cuisine. The most widely used spice in cooking is curry.

The country's economy is based on trade. Another source of income is industry. The leading branches of industry are shipbuilding, oil refineries, electronics, textile, food and timber. Since the land is low, there are no mineral and energy sources. Singapore's currency is the Singapore dollar.

The crime rates are very low due to the harsh penalties. To avoid pollution on the streets, chewing a gum is prohibited and only in certain places is it allowed to smoke. The fine for throwing trash on the ground begins at $1,000. Because every point is under close surveillance with a security system, it is a relatively safe country.

Compared to other Asian countries the rate of literacy is very high. Public health services, cultural and social services are fairly well run. There are 17 modern hospitals in the country. The average life span is 70 years.

Singapore is close to the equator, so throughout the year it’s hot and wet. The temperature is usually around 23 to 26 degrees and hits highs of up to 31-34 degrees. The maximum rainfall is between November and January. The high season is between May and July.

Tourists are highly valued and have everything fairly easy in Singapore. It's very easy to find city maps and information about what to do. Since Turkish citizens can visit Singapore visa free, you can turn up with just a passport that is valid for at least 6 months. The trip by plane takes approximately 10 hours from Istanbul and 11 hours from Singapore.

Changi is the only airport of Singapore and is of 43 km length and 22.5 km width. Changi has been rewarded as the best airport in the world for numerous times and it is very close to the city center. You can easily take a cab from the airport to your hotel. The gas is cheap, therefore cab rates are reasonable. Besides there are also buses to the city center. If you like, in inner city transport you can use the enhanced subway network as well. If you decide renting a car, keep in mind that Singapore has a left-hand traffic.

All right! After this long intro, let's talk about what you can do in Singapore... You have so many options and they are so much fun!

SENTOSA ISLAND: I guess, when you think about Singapore, what pops into your mind right away is this island. It's an entertainment and a show center. Moreover the best bays you can swim in are on this island. Because there are so many activities, you'd better get there early. Either by subway or cab, come to the World Trade Center, take the cable car, enjoy the magnificent view on Sentosa Island.

There are colored shuttle buses that make tours on the island and they are free of charge without any limitations. As soon as you step on the island, get the booklet that lists the events and their timetables, schedule your own time, try to join as many events as possible all day long using the shuttles I mentioned above. Some of the activities have a fee and some are gratis. As you're buying the cable car ticket, you can try and choose the right time considering the promotions. I recommend you buy the tickets of some of the attractions using your cable car ticket.

I think the Butterfly Park and the Aquarium are the main must-see's on the island. There is a free tram going through the forest as well which you should try. You don't need to get inside the symbol of the island the Merlion but after 07:00 pm, behind it is an amphitheater with a wonderful sound and light show. Before you leave the island, don't miss the waterworks showcase of “Songs of The Sea.” Don't forget to ask when the last cable car is.

ORCHARD ROAD: The center of Singapore, Orchard Road, is a long boulevard, with lots of distinctive malls and exclusive restaurants. You can enjoy the walk, shop and try the delicious foods for hours. Most of the electronics shops are on this street too. If you happen to come during the Chinese New Year Celebrations, the boulevard with its ornaments will fascinate you. .

NATIONAL ORCHID GARDEN: You should absolutely see this park which is only 5 minutes away from Orchard Road. For a small fee, you can see thousands of kinds of orchids in these magnificent gardens.

NIGHT SAFARI: I definitely recommend this tour which you can buy even from the reception of your hotel. You can get on the tram from the lovely, small village, which was set up just for this safari and explore the fascinating nocturnal animals in their natural habitat, you can buy nice little gifts from the shops in the village and try pleasant food. Singapore Zoo is right around this area. During the day you can visit the zoo and at the same place you can do a night safari.

CHINATOWN: There’s naturally a Chinatown in Singapore due to the large numbers of Chinese people living there after it was set up in the early 1900s. Here, you can find anything: temples, Chinese restaurants, electronics shops selling film and music CD's from China. In the evenings Chinatown is more exciting. Hours quickly pass by while you are walking around the stands set up on the streets and watching the shows. Cross the bridge at the end of the street, down the road you see a fruit stand inviting you to taste the tropical fruits.

LITTLE INDIA: The moment you set foot in the neighborhood you smell curry and fries. Here, you will notice the Hindu temples and the houses and mosques built by Indian Muslims with their own architectural twist. You can lay eyes on dozens of shops selling Indian outfits, drop by one of them and, for the girls out there, try on a colorful Sari. Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is the most important temple in the most important neighborhood. If you are lucky enough you can come across a service in the temple.

Beside all these hints, you should absolutely take a walk in the central area Marina Bay and Raffles Palace where most flamboyant buildings of the city are. Jurong Bird Park with its numerous bird kinds and the Singapore Zoo are both really worth seeing. If you enjoy museums, you can also visit the National Museum, the Asian Civilizations Museum and the Singapore Art Museum.

Have a nice holiday! 

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