Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Last Kampong in Mainland Singapore

I thoroughly enjoyed a walking tour yesterday sponsored by the Friends of the Museums ( The tour was called "Nostalgic Singapore". We drove in a tour bus north from Newton Circus Food Center up to Kampong Lorong Buangkok, the last remaining kampong (village) in mainland Singapore.

This kampong is home to 30 families with houses connected by dirt roads, built of wood with zinc roofs. The kampong dates back to 1956 with electricity added in 1963. The land is currently owned by Miss Sng Mui Hong who still lives here. She inherited the land from her father. The families pay about $30/mo to live here.

Life here is basic with many of the families being multi-generational. The land around this village is slowly being developed with tall apartments being built right next door. We saw many fruit trees and herbs growing everywhere. There is a strong feeling of community living and sharing among the families.

I found a video report showing the kampong which I thought shows what I experienced in my walk through yesterday.

It was a great tour with lots of history. I hope these families can remain in their homes for as long as they wish rather than the government making the decision for them. But in Singapore "progress" rules.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Balloons on Vacation

Patti P. from Minneapolis visited Singapore last week. She brought Drew and Drake balloons one of which enjoyed some pool time. Ray and I gave Patti a walkabout downtown, including a reflecting ball sculpture.

Drake got to show off the Tiong Bahru Market with it's array of fresh fish, vegetables, and fruit as well as a local restaurant with a gelato case. A flavor for everyone.

Patti treated me to a night out at the top of the Marina Bay Sands Resort and their restaurant Sky on 57 overlooking the freighter-filled bay and Gardens by the Bay. There even is a swimming pool at the top with a view over the city. Gulp! The drinks were pricey but the view was worth it.

Arab Street and Chinatown, Tiger Beer and hawker center lunches, re-crafting a souvenir, we kept busy along with lots of walking, talking, and a bit of swimming. 

Thank you tons, Patti for the visit. It was almost as good as our Hong Kong trip. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Singapore Mourns Lee Kuen Yew

Last week Ray and I experienced a once in a lifetime event here in Singapore. Lee Kuen Yew, the Father of Singapore died. Singapore as an autonomous country is only 50 years old. Their growth from a British colony to a  Japanese-occupied prison back to British partial self rule to an independent island nation is nothing less then amazing.

Lee Kuan Yew memorial exhibition to be held at National Museum
LKY's official funeral photograph

The island is clean, safe, everyone has the ability to own an apartment and all religions and nationalities are accepted. The official government and business language is English but all schools offer "native" language classes in Mandarin, Tamil and Malay as well.

The funeral procession leaves Parliament building in the rain.
We read all the articles and watched the State funeral procession on television with amazement and we also learned lots about LKY's life. He was a larger than life person known to all.

LKY in his power days.
  • He was 91 years old when he died. 
  • He loved languages and up to his death was daily studying Mandarin 
  • He was in his 70s when he learned how to use a computer
  • He was decisive, not afraid of making hard decisions, and outspoken
  • Singapore is an island with little of it's own natural resources 
  • He made decisions that were best for Singapore if not always best for the Singaporeans
  • Singapore originally was part of Malay (now called Malaysia) but LKY made the decision to split off and become independent because he wanted Singapore to be inclusive of all it's people and their backgrounds (Malaysia is a Muslim country and did not like the number of Chinese citizens in Singapore). This was a very sad day for LKY.

The line to pay respects to LKY was 8 hours long and very wet.

His two son's, Lee Ksien Loong (the current Prime Minster) and Lee Hsien Yang gave beautiful eulogies. The funeral procession wound through parts of the city in heavy rains. The streets were lined with people.

We continued to read about his life and how his ideals formed the Singapore we live in today. We also read commentaries from ex pat Singaporeans living abroad like this quote:

"Even as children, we were aware of the constant change, not just externally, with the nation's skyline, its factories and rivers, but also internally. Campaigns spearheaded by Mr Lee's government sought to micromanage our behavior. From courtesy to anti-spitting campaigns, Singaporeans were taught from a young age how to be compliant."

"When we were older, we were told how many children we should have and even whom to marry. As graduates, you were encouraged to marry someone with the same level of education, to make real Mr Lee's vision of social engineering and becoming a nation producing smarter babies."

The day after the funeral Amos Yee, age 15, was arrested for posting a video stating he was glad that LKY was dead.

There are always many ways to See our world. It will be interesting to witness the future of Singapore without Lee Kuen Yew.