Opening Asia for Russia

07.06.2018 173 просмотров

Singapore is an island nation with a rather turbulent history. Its territory is a little over 600 square kilometers. It is comparable to the areas of the largest cities in the world - for example, Moscow or Chicago. However, today Singapore is one of the most economically advanced countries in the world, which has also absorbed a whole mosaic of cultures and historical events, which are reminiscent of the reminders of the past.

In the first quarter of the 19th century, the British colonizer Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles set foot in Singapore. He seemed to have the gift of foresight when he predicted a great future for this place. In his opinion, the island, located in the southern part of the Strait of Malacca, which connects the Indian and Pacific Oceans, will eventually become an important port at the crossroads of trade routes. And so it happened.

However, the history of Singapore is much older - this place is told in ancient Malay chronicles. In particular, they describe why it got its name. Translated from Malay, the word "singa" means "lion". The Malay prince named the place that way, who thought he saw a lion on the island - allegedly that's why the settlement was given this name. In fact, there were never any lions in these places, but tigers met quite often - at the dawn of the formation of this state, they tore to pieces a lot of migrants. Apparently, the prince mixed up something or popular rumor distorted everything. But be that as it may, the name stuck.

Singapore. Hindu temple
Singapore. Indian temple Sri Mariamma. Photo: Marina Lystseva/TASS 

The first mention of Singapore dates back to the 13th century - it was mainly mentioned in historical chronicles, when the island passed from one owner to another. In the 15th century, the Majapathit empire with its center on the island of Java reached its peak, it was she who began to control Singapore, but then Malacca, located to the north, became a major trading port. Therefore, until Sir Raffles appeared on the island, Singapore remained a small fishing village surrounded by impenetrable jungle. And it began to grow only after the arrival of an Englishman known for his violent activity.

In the end, the settlers thoroughly “thinned out” the dense jungle, clearing the area for agricultural land. This happened already in the second half of the 19th century, when Singapore became a prosperous seaport. Then it was considered one of the most important ports of the British Empire. Tea and silk were delivered here from China, and wood and spices from Malaya and Indonesia.

The First World War did not affect Singapore - on the contrary, it was a period of rapid economic growth of the island state, which with great pleasure reaped the fruits of the rubber boom . Then a whole series of uprisings for independence swept through these parts, as a result of which the German settlers were expelled from the island, and Singapore became the largest naval base of the British Empire. But in December 1941, already during World War II, the Japanese invaded the Malay Peninsula, and a couple of months later they captured Singapore, where they staged a real genocide against the Chinese living on the island (they made up the majority of all nationalities). The situation changed only in 1945, when allied troops landed on this territory. Singapore was separated from Malaya, it was given the status of a colony.

Almost twenty years passed before Singapore became a fully independent state, having made a whole series of political transformations, gradually turning from a "third world" country into a highly developed state. But this is a completely different story, but we will focus on modern Singapore, which today has become a kind of model for all Asian countries. However, in this country, despite skyscrapers soaring up, the national culture, consecrated by centuries-old traditions, does not want to die.

Singapore. Zoo
Singapore Zoo. Photo: Wong Maye-E/TASS

A trip to Singapore will be remembered for a long time. It makes no sense to talk in detail about all the sights of the island-state, since in Singapore they will have their own. Someone will want to visit the famous Universal Studio amusement park on Sentosa Island as soon as possible, give the Botanical Garden to another, where a unique collection of trees and other plants is collected, the third will be interested in the oceanarium - it will pleasantly excite many lovers of the underwater world.

By the way, Sentos is not only one of the world's largest amusement parks and an aquarium. This islet, which tourists prefer to reach mainly by funicular high above the bay, attracts many travelers - it has luxury hotels, beach and sports areas, and in general this place can be considered the heart of the entire entertainment infrastructure of Singapore. In addition, the greenery of Sentosa compares favorably with the concrete jungle of the main island, where, by and large, you should go only for historical sights, shopping, and, perhaps, in order to better understand how such a delicious dish called Singapore. You can’t understand it right away - you need to see it, feel it. So, no one cancels a trip to the business heart of the city - even if Sentosa Island is chosen for relaxation, on which, to be honest, you can spend your whole vacation non-stop. But it is hardly necessary to do so.

Singapore. Aquarium on Sentosa Island. Photo: Marina Lystseva/TASS

You can start your acquaintance with business Singapore from Padang. Once it was the only dry place on the island, surrounded by swamps. Naturally, the British colonialists settled here. Today, the Historic District is home to major examples of colonial architecture.

It would be a big mistake not to visit Orchard Road —  there is no other street like it anywhere in Asia. It is the center of trade and entertainment, there is a huge number of shopping centers, night bars and clubs in both Chinese and Western style. However, strong drinks in the establishments there are not cheap.

Once upon a time, Singapore was a very "riotous" city, in which lovers of carnal entertainment flocked. Today it is not so - moral debauchery in the city-state is no longer welcome. And lovers of "strawberries" should go to Manila or Bangkok. Orchard Road is occasionally occupied only by transwisters, and then mostly in the morning and along the side paths.

One of the street attractions is a large building with a Chinese-style roof. It used to house a Chinese antiques shop, but now the building has been slightly remodeled, turning it into a department store where you can buy anything. By the way, a corner of former Singapore has been preserved on Orchard Road. Many old houses have been converted and turned into cozy cafes where you can have a good time.

Singapore, Sentosa Island
Singapore. Beach on Sentosa Island. Photo: TASS

When the British colonized Singapore, it was decided not to rely on chance and divide the colony into parts, each of which would be inhabited by one or another ethnic or cultural group. Almost the same structure of the division of the city according to ethnic principle has been preserved to this day. So, for example, the territory near the Raffles Hotel and Padang is considered the European part, the Arab kampung is located in the Arab Street area, the Chinese enclave, which in a sense has always been the center of Singapore - the current Chinatown. Not so long ago, a historical architectural reserve was created - kampung boogie. Once this district was notorious and was known to sailors all over the world for its reckless fun. In the mid-1980s, the main Bugis Street was completely demolished, and a new one appeared in its place. Now it sparkles with cleanliness, its former name has been preserved, but its long-standing "admirers" did not like it at all - apparently, because it has lost its "forgetful" charm.

Singapore has its own Little India, which has accumulated so many street merchants, shopkeepers and "the best in all of Calcutta" curry cooks, that the head is spinning - either from the mixed smells of ginger, cardamom, cumin and coriander, or from the unceasing noise. And in this area of the city, the main religious buildings of the Hindus are concentrated.

When the legs no longer carry on at all, and the head is full of impressions from what he saw, then the best time comes for a snack - fortunately, in Singapore, with its ethnic diversity, culinary art has reached a truly unprecedented refinement. Of course, in other Asian countries you will find approximately the same dishes that are prepared by Singaporean culinary specialists, but you can hardly find such a variety of dishes anywhere. Singaporeans - the same Chinese and Indian ones - have their own special exquisitely subtle taste.

A special topic is Singaporean street fast food, cooking "in haste". It is possible that tables and cutlery in roadside eateries do not look European everywhere, but the food offered is tasty, it is prepared from quality products. Chicken with rice, satay (Singapore kebab), me goreng (fried noodles), rajak (salad), chili crab (fresh crab fried in shell and seasoned with spicy and hot spices, garlic, soy and tomato sauce, eggs), goreng pisang (banana pancakes) - all this becomes an excellent addition to an exciting walk around the city. However, there are more than enough first-class restaurants in Singapore.


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