The British landed on the undeveloped island of Singapore in 1819 and over the next century transformed it into a major trading post. After briefly falling to the Japanese during World War 2, Singapore reverted to British control afterward but was granted independence as part of Malaysia in 1963. Two years later Singapore broke off from Malaysia to become a sovereign country. Since then, the city state of 5 million has grown to become a financial powerhouse of Asia and one of the largest ports in the world.
Singpore now is highly urbanized and although it receives many tourists, their options are limited to shopping or gambling. Sarah and I were interested in neither so we instead explored the country on foot walking through the various neighborhoods and opting not to get on a hop-on hop-off bus or ride the largest ferris wheel in Asia. Our dollars went much further than they did in Australia and we ate well: Chinese in Chinatown and Indian in Little India. We had heard plenty of stories about the police state that ruled Singapore but that was limited to a few signs of behavior that was banned: no jaywalking, no spitting, no urinating, no eating or drinking on the subway. The city was clean, everyone spoke English, the subway was efficient and the skyline was impressive.
The three large towers of the Marina Bay Sands Casino were connected by a floating garden and towered over the port. Although newly opened, it had become a magnet for gambling in Asia and most pictures of Singapore now feature it as part of the country’s skyline.
After three nights of this we were ready to head off from the big city and explore the jungles of Borneo.