We burst forth from the house a few days ago, still a touch snotty, but essentially recovered. Die Lüdde was popped into the sling – facing forward, mind you, the world has just completely opened up – and we caught a bus then the MRT down to Raffles Place. Raffles is a name one hears with notable frequency in Singapore, so often in fact, that one begins to wonder … did Raffles build Singapore – as we know it today – with his own two hands, moulding the earth, shaping the river, overseeing the completion of each and every gigantic building from the former post office turned Fullerton Hotel to the completely unattractive Marina Bay Sands Hotel? Did he?
Where was I. Ah yes, the MRT down to Raffles Place. The MRT is a lovely experience, by the way, punctual and clean and cheap. We checked out Raffles Hotel, a completely beautiful, sprawling colonial building that has been operating since 1887. Apparently beloved of writers like Kipling and Hemingway, the imagination requires no stretching to envision them perched up in a room of dark wood, wearing an open-necked linen shirt and sipping a Singapore sling, enjoying the comforts only a freshly colonised country can offer.
From Raffles we strolled down towards the city centre, passing the new and old Parliament Houses, the Asian Civilisation Museum, and the Victoria Concert Hall. Every time you come up against a big old colonial building, it is against the backdrop of the city’s new glass houses, home to the suits that keep Singapore’s economy ticking. The old vs new is an inescapable juxtaposition.
Another one of Singapore’s landmark hotels, the Fullerton. The Fullerton, which sits on Singapore River, next to the sky-scraping skyline of the financial centre, was Singapore’s first post office. Having seen the sheer size of the building, I am forced to wonder how much mail Singapore was sorting through in the early days. Seemingly enormous amounts.
See those little Chinese Shop Houses along the river in the picture below? That’s where I want to go to eat soon. I’ll keep you posted.