SINGAPORE, THE BRIGHTEST DIAMOND IN SOUTHEAST ASIA!

IMG_1885 We had very high expectations for Singapore and we were not at all disappointed. This diamond shaped island off the Malay Peninsula is 278 square miles of wealth. The worlds largest city/state has a population of 5.5 million who enjoy the worlds third highest per capita income.

It is clean and glamorous; known as often as the Garden City as it is the Lion City (the actual translation in the old Malay language).

Parks do abound.DSCN2272 This marvelous park can be observed from the Marina Bay Sands SkyparkDSCN2287 but 4-5 hours exploring this botanical paradise is an absolute minimum. Since Malaysia expelled Singapore in 1965 this country has had a national greening policy responsible for these lovely gardens. They have also expanded their territory adding 23% to their landmass by filling in between islands and filling in shallow areas near the coast. The Iconic Raffles Hotel once a seaside resort is now 5 of 6 blocks from the beach.

This is a city of high end shoppingP1060119 and the park motif extends even to underground shopping malls.P1060109 The swimming pool and gardens atop the Sands Hotel is typical of the opulence found here.P1060140 There is a lot of money here. Singapore lies in the crossroads of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and much of this wealth comes from shipping.P1060094

The architecture is dramatic.P1060143

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Singapore is also noted as having among the lowest crime rates in the world. High wages, strict enforcement of laws, and quality of education are cited as the cause.

A beautiful place to visit.DSCN2282 This sculpture made from a tree trunk hangs in the entrance to the botanical gardens.

MALAYSIA, Why was I surprised?

DSCN2465 (3)The Petronas Towers housing the headquarters of Mayaysia’s national oil company are often seen as a symbol of this fairly prosperous Southeast Asian constitutional monarchy. These towers are the tallest twins in the world.

Ignorance can be cured by travel. My surprise at this visit to Malaysia was totally due to my lack of knowledge about this country.DSCN2478 (2) It is very clean, in fact I am tempted to call it spotless. There is an obvious police presence everywhere and I think that probably prompts people to put their trash in the proper place. As an example, a young couple were attempting to get a better angle for a photograph by standing on a concrete curb around a flower bed and a police officer quickly returned them to a sidewalk. One gets the impression that this is a “no nonsense ” kind of place!

Even the chaos that typically surrounds the exodus from a cruise ship was controlled here. Instead of hoards of taxi drivers descending upon you there were polite folks who asked your destination and then led you to a driver and gave him the instructions.

DSCN2486 (2) The Royal Palace

This is a democracy with a slant; a parliament elected by the people and a prime minister AND a king!

Nine of the 13 states that make up this union have kept their royal families and the Malaysia King is elected by the rulers of these families.  DSCN2485 (2) The palace is beautiful. Cameras were not allowed inside the palace but our friend Joe managed to get his picture taken beside the throne without causing an international incidentP1060708 (2) Not sure how he managed that.

The national religion is Islam but their constitution protects freedom of religion for all faiths.DSCN2420 (2) This is a beautiful Mosque on the harbor front.