Sights of Singapore
THE inaugural direct flight to Singapore from Nadi has opened up a new market for Fiji and the other Pacific Island countries in terms of tourism and trade.
Apart from this, the long-haul flight also gave a group of journalists from here the chance to visit Singapore and experience the life and the attractions that await those who visit this island state.
The Singapore Tourism Board had arranged some sightseeing for journalists from Fiji who were part of the historic flight early this month and I was lucky to be part of the group.
Although we visited many places in the “Land of the Lion”, what caught my attention was the ride on the bumboat at Clarke Quay.
Clarke Quay is a historical riverside quay in Singapore, located within the Singapore River Planning Area and situated upstream from the mouth of the Singapore River and Boat Quay.
According to our guide, the Singapore River has been the centre of trade since modern Singapore was founded in 1819 and during the colonial era, Boat Quay was the commercial centre where barges would transport goods upstream to warehouses at Clarke Quay.
The history of Singapore tells us that at the height of its prosperity, dozens of bumboats jostled for mooring space beside Clarke Quay and this continued well into the latter half of the 20th century.
By this time, the Singapore River had also become very polluted and the Government decided to relocate cargo services to a new modern facility in Pasir Panjang. The Government then cleaned up the Singapore River and its environment from 1977 to 1987 and plans were made to revamp the area and turn it into a flourishing commercial, residential and entertainment precinct.
The important aspect of development in Singapore is that the Government takes into consideration the environment and takes all measures to protect it and the history of the place. That is why when the plans for Singapore River were drawn up they took into serious consideration the historical value of Clarke Quay, making it mandatory that new buildings complement the historical character of the area and that certain old buildings be restored.
The streets of Clarke Quay are lined with cafes and restaurants which offer visitors and guests a view of the river and the colourful buildings that line the street.
We were given a chance to ride on the bumboats and were taken out on the river from where we
could see the Marina Bay Sands and other high-rise buildings which grace the Singapore skyline.
The bumboats take passengers on a ride along the river providing the visitors with a feel of how busy the river and the streets would have been during the days when the river was a popular port for traders.
Another major tourist attraction of Singapore is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel which is about 56 stories high and boasts an incredible architecture.
Once on the top floor, one can see the entire island of Singapore in one breathtaking view. Although, I have to warn that it’s not for people with a fear of heights.
What’s remarkable about this enchanting country is the fact that it makes up in technology and innovation what it lacks in space.
It has a lot of lessons for small island nations such as Fiji and at the same time opens up a whole lot of new trade and tourism opportunities for Fiji and other Pacific Islands.