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Sprawling shopping centers, a multi-ethnic population, and a whole island packed with tourist attractions…say hello to Singapore.


December 14, 2009 9:42 by

But I didn’t get sick.

So on my second day in Singapore I took a taxi to the Changi Museum, next door to the famed Changi Prison, where residents of Singapore were imprisoned by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. The museum commemorates the thousands of British, Chinese and Malay prisoners who suffered and died at the hands of the Japanese. It’s a fascinating glimpse of Singapore’s dark past. Before you go to the museum, make sure you book a taxi to pick you up. The museum and the prison are outside the city center, where taxis are scarce.

My next visit was to the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Established 150 years ago by the Agri-Horticultural Society, the garden today is a tranquil, well-maintained haven in the center of the highly developed city-state. The gardens are divided into sections, and can be viewed in a single day, but frankly, I had better things to do. I had a date at the famed Raffles Hotel Singapore.

I headed to the historic Long’s Bar at Raffles, where the Singapore Sling was invented almost 100 years ago, and where peanut shells litter the floor. And as I’d hoped, the bar boasts a number of linen-clad expatriates wearing straw hats who looked old enough to remember pre-1942 Singapore. As far as I was concerned, they were as much a part of the bar’s charm as the SGD22 (AED58) Singapore Sling.

As soon as I left the Raffles Hotel, I went back to my hotel, packed my bags and headed for Singapore’s corniest tribute to commercialism: Sentosa Island. The pleasure island is home to hotels, water and light shows, amusement rides, restaurants and spas. I have a sneaking suspicion that Dubailand may have been inspired by it.

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