Singapore is a small island state located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula that was merely a small
fishing village until 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles claimed it as a strategic port for the British.
Under the British, Singapore became an important trade center and military base. Singapore was
occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War and became independent in 1959. For
several years Singapore actually joined with Malaysia, but that didn't last due to the fact that the
population of Singapore is overwhelmingly Chinese and Malaysia mostly Malay. Though no longer a
British military outpost, Singapore found economic success through increased trade, tourism, and
social efficiency. The architect of this success was the often iron-fisted Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew,
who formally ruled until 1990. Under his rule, Singapore became not only socially and economically
efficient, but also oppressive and antiseptic. Well known are the stories of harsh penalties for simple
infractions such as chewing gum or carelessly missing the trash can with one's litter. Fortunately
there has been a slow but continual move to loosen some of the more arcane laws created under Lee
Kuan Yew. Many censorship laws have also been reconsidered, and there is now a push toward the
promotion of the arts and a broader acceptance of foreign influences. Singapore now finds itself a
clean, prosperous business center with a high quality of life for it's citizens and an inviting
atmosphere for it's visitors. Singapore is without a doubt one of the true gems of Asia.

I've been able to spend several days in Singapore on a couple of different occasions. Truth by told, it
really only takes 2 or 3 days to see all there is to see in Singapore, but being able to take extra time
doing so is a real treat. While in Singapore I did all of the most common things that most visitors do,
such as visit the
Long Bar (where the Singapore Sling was invented) at the world famous Raffles
Hotel,dinner and drinks at Boat Quay/Clarke Quay, a trip up to the very impressive Night Safari, as
well as strolls through Little India, Chinatown, and the famous shopping area of Orchard Road. In
addition, I spent some wonderful time riding a rented bicycle at the beach park area known as East
Coast Park (a visit to the famous chili crab restaurants here is a must!), looked about the Colonial
District (stopping off for lunch at the
Cricket Club), took a riverboat tour, and walked through a
number of typical residential neighborhoods.

While I had a great time each day I was there, and enjoyed all Singapore offers, I do have some
standout memories, so I'll mention a few here. The food in Singapore rocks! You can get almost
anything and it will be quality (sushi is mediocre) and affordable. I stumbled onto a couple of
wonderful spots to eat. While most people flock to Boat Quay for a night out, it's relatively expensive
and somewhat less authentic than what you can get elsewhere. If you are in the Boat Quay/Clarke
Quay area however, I do have a couple of places to recommend. I'm always a sucker for a good Irish
Pub, and it's hard to find them in Asia outside of Japan.
Molly Malone's is an exception, with great
beer and an authentic Irish feel. It's owned by the same people that own
Flanangan's at Chijmes, but
more affordable. Just down from Malone's (one street off Boat Quay) I found a great little Middle
Eastern place with delicious, affordable
halal cuisine. Forget the name, but know it's about a 1/2
block south of Malone's. On the west side of Clarke Quay is an American style micro-brewery called
Brewerkz. It's a great combination of outdoor seating, good food, and good beer brewed on-site. It is
fairly expensive however. As a side note, I found out just last year that the guys that started and own
Brewerkz are actually from the Avenues area of
Salt Lake City (my hometown). Go figure!

It seems obvious, but I must mention that there are a large number of great food places in both Little
India and Chinatown. The whole area is very walkable and I would suggest leisurely sauntering
through those neighborhoods until something "speaks to you." The best place I found for casual
dinning in Singapore however is in one of the multi storied "food centers," where street-style hawkers
gather together to sell an incredible variety of exotic, yet very affordable dishes. It seems that few
tourists take advantage of these little treasure troves, with almost all of the customers I saw being
locals. It's a shame since it appears to be a unique aspect of dinning in Singapore.

One last thought to share; I spontaneously hopped aboard the MRT (train system) and decided to just
ride the entire loop around the island. It turned out to be the single most insightful thing I've done in
Singapore. It only took about an hour and I was able to see areas most tourists and even many locals
probably never see. There were areas of dense public housing, areas of new commercial development,
open space where the land was still being cultivated, suburbs, wealthy planned communities, and of
course, the many sights of the city center. All of this from the comfort of a clean, safe, comfortable
seat that cost me all of a couple of dollars. I highly recommend it!
Uniquely Singapore