Glass and steel high rises, Chinese shophouses with red tile roofs, Victorian style government buildings, Buddhist temples and Arabian bazaars, they are all part of the diversity and charm of Singapore, the commercial centre of Southeast Asia and one of the busiest ports in the world. The city's modern era began in 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles purchased the island from the Sultan of Jahore.
The city grew up along its river and harbour. Today, junks and sampans have largely given way to supertankers, freighters and passenger liners. Now an independent country Singapore's population has grown to three million people.
Two separate tours today. Our 'boys' decided to relive the dark days of World War 11.
Us 'girls' chose to visit the Botanic Gardens consisting of 129 acres of both primary jungle and manicured gardens.
We began our walking tour through the natural rain forest. Our specialist German guide was very informative about the various species of trees, palms, and ferns. Discovered where the first rubber trees were planted in Southeast Asia, later becoming a major generator of income for these countries. We proceeded on to the glorious National Orchid Gardens. Since 1859, orchids have been closely associated with the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The products of the Gardens' orchid breeding programme began in 1928.
Over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids are now found in the gardens collection and every year more vibrant and enduring hybrids will be added on. A permanent showcase and the largest display of orchids in the world, featuring many varieties, fountains, a mist house, a bromeliad collection, waterfall and hand carved sculptors.
Saw the 'dignitaries' such as Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana in the VIP (very important plants) garden.
Although very hot and humid with sweat dripping off the face, it was a relaxing and beautiful tour. Morning tea/coffee was served picnic-style within the garden compound. After our visit to the gardens we were dropped off at Orchard Road, shopping district for two hours of free time to look around the area.
Back with the 'boys' to look around another huge shopping centre at the pier - a last final effort to find that elusive something! Electronic stores being the most popular. Back on board the Dawn Princess it was very clear what passengers had purchased today - computers, IPods, cameras, anything digital and electronic.
A great day getting in touch with nature in lovely clean, green Singapore. So much to do and see in a short time.
On the favourites list - another visit perhaps one day!!