Singapore is an island nation in Southeast Asia. Founded as a
British trading colony in 1819, after independence it became one of
the most prosperous countries, with the world's leading trading
port. Combining the skyscrapers and subways of a modern affluent
city with a mixed mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay influences, a
luscious tropical climate, delicious food, great shopping and
vibrant nightlife, this garden city is a great stopover or launch
pad in the region.
Singapore is a microcosm of Asia populated by Chinese, Malays, Indians and a large number of workers and emigrants from all over the globe (here they are called expatriates or ex-pats, ex-pats). A notoriously authoritarian state, with unexpected fines such as not flushing a toilet, Singapore has partly earned its reputation for sterile predictability, which has attracted cynically derisive descriptions like William Gibson's "Disneyland with the death penalty" or "the world's only shopping mall that is a member of the United Nations" . In fact, this Asian Switzerland is for many a joyful relief from the poverty, chaos and crime of much of the Asian continent. And times are changing, strict orders develop into soft cultural norms. In general, if you dig into a squeaky clean surface, you will reveal much more than meets the eye.
Singapore's food and shops are legendary, part of the national character. You can try to talk to a Singaporean about politics, the weather, sports, but nothing will engage them as vividly as your story about a new stall selling $2.50 (SGD) vermicelli soup around the corner from the third alley of the district bazaar. After listening carefully to you, finding out the smallest details of the plot along the way, your interlocutor will then definitely and in detail share the secret of the location of the real best soup tray, cheaper by 10 cents and with less unhealthy soy sauce. And no wonder if you, too, fall prey to the pulsating hawker centres, 24-hour cheap food cafes from all parts of Asia, and over-luggage by shopping in the shopping paradise of Orchard Road.
In recent years, some social restrictions have been relaxed, and you can now garter jump from heights or dance on a bar all night long, although alcohol is still very expensive and chewing gum can only be bought at a pharmacy. The first casino opened in 2009 as part of Singapore's new Fun and Entertainment program aimed at doubling the number of tourists and extending their stay in the country. Get ready for more indulgences in the future!
According to legend, the Srivijayan (Early Malay/Indonesian) Raja
Sang Nila Utama landed on the island in the 13th century after seeing a
strange creature that appeared to be a lion and decided to found a new
city, naming it "Singapura", the city of the Lion in Sanskrit (Old
Indian). (Singapore never had a lion, and that mysterious animal was
more likely a tiger.) Historical evidence suggests that the island was
inhabited at least two centuries earlier, and was called Temasek, "Sea
City" in Javanese (o Java is the most populated island in modern
Indonesia and in the world). However, the Sumatran Srivizhanat fell
around 1400 and Temasek, exhausted by the warring kingdoms of Siam
(Thailand) and the Javanese Majapahit raja, sunk into oblivion.
Therefore, the history of Singapore as we know it today began in 1819, when Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles entered into a treaty with the pretender to the throne of the Sultanate of Johor, offering British support to the heir in exchange for the right to establish a trading post on the island. Strategically located at the entrance to the Strait of Malacca, on the nexus of trade routes between China, India, Europe and Australia, in a stroke of genius by Raffles, Singapore was declared a free port, free of trade taxes and fees. Merchants seeking to escape the burdensome Dutch taxes soon turned the trading post into one of the busiest in Asia, drawing labor from everywhere. Along with Penang and Malacca, Singapore became the crown jewel of the British colonial crown, and its economic fortunes received an additional boost when palm oil and rubber from neighboring Malaya were processed and shipped through Singapore. In 1867, Singapore was officially separated from British India and made into a directly administered royal colony.
When World War II broke out, Singapore Fortress was considered an imposing British base, with massive naval fortifications to guard against attack from the sea. However, not only was the fortress absent from the fleet, which had been withdrawn entirely to defend Great Britain from the Germans, but the Japanese wisely preferred to cross Malaya on bicycles instead of a sea attack. Despite the cannons hastily deployed in the opposite direction, the British were completely unprepared for such a course of events. After less than a week of fighting, on February 15, 1942, with supplies at a critically low level (including fresh water), Singapore ingloriously surrendered, and the former rulers of the colony were sent to Changi prison. Tens of thousands died in the brutal occupation that followed, and the return of Mother England in 1945 to “restore what was taken away” was far from triumphant: it was clear that her time was up.
Endowed with self-government in 1955, Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, with the departure of the British. But after violent party and national divisions, he was effectively expelled because of the threat to Malay dominance from the Chinese townspeople. Officially, the island itself left the federation with the approval of the federal government, and became a state on August 9, 1965. The next forty years of ruthless rule by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew saw Singapore's economy take off, and the country quickly became one of the richest and most advanced in Asia. Now led by Lee Jr., Lee Hsien Loong, the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) continues to dominate the political arena. She holds 82 out of 84 seats in parliament, with more than half won by "elections" from one candidate, and opposition politicians are regularly bankrupted by defamation suits. However, social restrictions have been loosening in recent years and the government is trying to shake off its austere image. How the delicate balance between political and social freedom will develop is the real question of the future.
Only one and a half degrees north of the equator, there are no seasons, and the weather is usually sunny. It usually rains almost every day in the form of sudden heavy showers that rarely last more than an hour. However, most precipitation occurs during the northeast monsoon (November to January), sometimes with long periods of continuous rain. Spectacular thunderstorms happen regularly, usually in the afternoon, so it makes sense to carry an umbrella all the time, both for shade from the sun and as shelter from the rain.
Between May and October, forest fires on the neighboring Indonesian island. Sumatra can cause a thick haze, but it is unpredictable and comes and goes quickly. See the National Environment Agency website for current data.
Average monthly temperatures:
26 °C during the day - 24 °C at night in December-January
31°C during the day - 26°C at night during the rest of the year.
High temperatures and humidity, combined with a lack of wind and almost equally hot nights, can take their toll on tourists from the colder parts of the planet. Keep in mind that spending more than 1 hour outdoors can be very exhausting, especially when combined with extra exercise. Singaporeans themselves are shying away from the heat, and for good reason. Many live in air-conditioned apartments, work in air-conditioned institutions, ride air-conditioned subways to air-conditioned malls connected by underground passages, and exercise in air-conditioned fitness clubs.
Follow their lead to avoid discomfort.
Singapore is a small country on a small island, but with four million people, it is a densely populated city. Consisting roughly of Orchard, Riverside and a chunk of Chinatown, the city center in cut-throat Singapore is called CBD (CBC), Central Business District, Central Business District.
Balestier, Newton, Novena and Toa Payoh are inexpensive accommodations and Burmese temples not far from the center.
Bugis and Kampong Glam is Singapore's old Malay district, now mostly filled with large department stores, although Arab Street within Kampong Glam is well worth a visit for its eclectic mix of quirky shops and restaurants.
Chinatown (China-city) - the area originally set aside for the Chinese settlement by Stamford Raffles.
East Coast (east coast) - in the predominantly bedroom eastern part of the island is the Changi airport and many famous zucchini. Katong is famous for its Peranakan dishes such as laksa. Joo Chiat has several well-restored Peranakan houses with characteristically elegant architecture.
Little India (little India) - a piece of India north of the center.
North and West - also known as Woodlands and Jurong respectively, make up the residential and industrial areas of Singapore.
Orchard Road - Kilometers upon kilometers of shops, department stores and malls
Riverside - Museums, statues, theaters, not to mention restaurants, bars and clubs
Sentosa is a separate island, systematically developed into a resort, the Singapore cousin of Disneyland.
Singapore has 4 official languages: English, Chinese (Putonghua), Malay and Tamil. Residents of the country, in addition to their native language, almost always speak English and sometimes in addition another language.
How to get there
Singapore Airlines flies daily on the Moscow-Singapore route (just over 10 hours).
In addition, you can take advantage of the regular flights of Emirates Airlines (daily, via Dubai), Qatar Airways (three times a week, via Doha), Thai Airways (three times a week, via Bangkok), Etihad Airways (three times a week, via Abu- Dabi).
It is also possible to fly via Frankfurt (Lufthansa plus Singapore Airlines), Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam Airlines), Seoul (Korean Airlines), Shanghai (China Eastern) or Tokyo (Japan Airlines).
Qatar Airways, Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways and China Eastern also fly from Belarus and Ukraine to Singapore.
Singapore has very strict laws against drugs: illegal trafficking is punishable by death, which also applies to foreigners. As elsewhere, travelers should be vigilant about their luggage. Paranoids should also note that in Singapore it is a crime to have any drugs in the body, even if they were consumed outside the country.
The duty-free allowance for alcohol is 1 liter of spirits, 1 liter of wine and 1 liter of beer per person. Cigarettes cannot be imported duty-free at all, apart from one open pack. Foreigners can choose to either pay the fee or leave it to customs for safekeeping until departure; locals have only a choice between paying for or witnessing the destruction of cigarettes.
Getting around Singapore is easy: the transport system is one of the best in the world. The main types of metro are MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and LRT (Light Rail Transit). Inexpensive and reliable, their network covers almost all points of interest for tourists. Pay only with a smart card, which can be bought from machines or at the cashier, the price depends on the distance and varies from 0.80 to 2.00 Singaporean dollars. Transfers are free. Please note that in Singapore "subway" means "underpass".
Buses connect various corners of Singapore. You can pay in cash, but you need to change, so it's easiest to use a card. When boarding, in front of the bus, you need to touch the card to the counter, and the maximum fare will be charged from it. When exiting, you need to touch again, and then the price difference will be returned. Controllers sometimes work on the lines.
Taxis are relatively inexpensive, but with a complex system of surcharges for calling by phone, at night, driving through the center, holidays, rush hours, etc. - they all show on the meter. Credit cards are not always accepted and the service costs an additional 15%.
Tricycles with a cart (traishaw, trishaw) are designed mainly for tourists, and hunt them in Kitay-gorod and along the river. You won’t bargain here much: a short trip costs 10-20 Singapore dollars, and an hour of a city tour is all 50. It is not recommended for targeted movements.
Tourist bumboats glide along the river, with good views of the city center. Ferries take you to the uninhabited southern islands for picnicking and swimming in the backwaters.
Singapore is the most walkable city in Southeast Asia. Classic walks include trails along the river from the Merlion Sea Lion statue to Quays Piers, and Chinatown, Little India and Bugis. The only inevitable obstacle is the tropical heat and humidity. Carry handkerchiefs to wipe off sweat, and be sure to drink water. Break up your walk with air-conditioned cafes, shops and museums. Avoid the peak of the daytime heat by walking in the morning and afternoon. Crossing the street in the wrong place can be punished by imprisonment.
In the center of Singapore, the address system is familiar, for example, 17 Orchard Road (Sadovaya Street, 17), but in new residential developments on the outskirts, it can be taken aback at first: a typical address looks like “Blk 505 Jurong West St 51 #01-186”. Here “Blk 505” is the number of the apartment block, “Jurong West St 51” is the name of the street, and “#01-186” means the first floor, apartment or trading place 186. .) The first digit of the number of both the block and the street is the number of the subdistrict (in this case, 5), which simplifies the search. A six-digit postal code, given the size of the island, usually corresponds to exactly one building. For example, "Blk 9 Bedok South Ave 2" is "Singapore 460009" or "S460009". A useful way to look up addresses is the free Singapore Street Directory on the web. Most taxis have a street directory for the unlikely event that the driver doesn't know how to take you.
Due to its diverse population, Singapore celebrates Chinese, Muslim, Indian and Christian holidays. The year kicks off with a bang with the European New Year and is celebrated, as in the West, with fireworks and parties at every holiday spot in the city. The frenzied fun with wet foam on the beaches of the resort island of Sentosa is especially famous - at least in those years when the authorities condescendingly allow such relative debauchery.
However, thanks to the influence of the Chinese majority, the biggest event is by far the Chinese New Year (or, politically correct, Lunar New Year), usually held in February. The festival lasts for at least 42 days, but the wild anticipation of the climax occurs on the eve of the night of the new moon, with exclamations of "gon zi fa cai" ("congratulations and prosperity"), red tinsel, tangerines, oranges, ubiquitous pictures of the zodiac animal and crowds of buyers in queues of Kitay-gorod. The next two days are spent with the family, and most of the island dies out, and then life returns to normal ... except for the final splash of Chingay (Chingey) - a colorful parade along Sadovaya Street ten days later.
In 2007, the parade is held on February 24 at 19:00, starting from Sadovaya Orhcard Road. Like last year, there will also be a preview on February 23 at 7:30 pm – in fact, giving away two parades. After the parade on the 24th, Orchard Road will be divided into three festive zones. Between Paragon and Ng Ann City there will be samba and belly dancers. Between Heeren and Meritus Mandarin is hip-top. Between Faber House/Somerset MRT and Orchard Plaza/Killiney Road is a children's carnival. These zones will be open from 21:30 to 23:30.
Singapore uses the Singapore dollar (SGD). Sometimes Brunei dollars can also be found in circulation, they, according to interstate agreements, go in Singapore on a par with their own Singaporean money at the denomination indicated on the banknote, without exchange.
In January 2013, 1 US dollar ($) was equal to approximately 1.22 Singapore dollars (S$).
Chinese cuisine, seafood dishes, sushi are popular in the country. Popular national dishes: nasi lemak (coconut pulp, scrambled eggs, anchovies, cucumber wedges and some chili paste wrapped in wrapping paper or a banana leaf), eh tarik (clove milk tea), chendol (coconut milk drink with brown sugar , pieces of green starch and red beans). For an example of prices, 400 ml of beer in restaurants along the riverfront costs 7-8 S$, one omelette is 3 S$,
Leaving a "tip" in Singapore is optional. However, no one will refuse them. Most hotels and restaurants, not relying on the awareness of customers, themselves include an additional 10-15% "for service" in the bill.
Indian and Malay food should only be eaten with the right hand. Chopsticks are never left in a plate of food, but placed on a special stand or on a table near the plate. If the serving includes two spoons, you need to eat with a porcelain spoon, and with a silver one - only serve food.
Where to stay
There are no bad hotels in Singapore, even 2-3☆ are quite up to par. City-type hotels: without territory, multi-storey, with conference rooms equipped with the latest technology. All the world's hotel chains are represented in the country, plus the Chinese chain Oriental and the southeastern Shangri La. But in the China Town area (Chinese City, a few blocks from the center) you can find a series of small hotels with very "modest" amenities. For example, the G Hotel has double rooms with an area of about 9 square meters. meters completely without windows. The room has a double bed, a bedside table, a shelf-table on the wall, air conditioning and a TV (5 channels of local TV of medium quality), there may be a stool-chair. There is a shower with toilet and washbasin. There is no food, in the morning you can make tea or coffee in the Internet room. The cost of such a room in December 2011 is 120 USD (160 S$)!
The moon is visible from the equator in the supine position. On the coat of arms of Singapore, he is depicted like this: see paper money and coins.
Singapore has the nickname “fine city”, which means both “beautiful city” and “city of fines”: the word “fine” has two meanings. The city has strict laws regarding even minor offenses that usually get away with it in other countries. For example, it is forbidden to cross the street not on the transition or at a red light, to eat and drink in public transport, to spit, to litter. This has made Singapore as clean and safe, even at night, as it is, although in recent times the indulgence is also felt in the field of law enforcement.
Toilets usually have at least one "Asian" toilet - flush with the floor. It is believed to be healthier.
Driving is on the left, be careful when crossing the streets: cars turn from an unexpected direction!
Bringing drugs into Singapore is punishable by death. In addition, the import of chewing gum into the country is prohibited: violation of this ban can result in a fine or even imprisonment for up to a year. It is forbidden to chew gum on the street, and especially spit it out on the sidewalk. This can result in a huge fine. Since the beginning of 2009, a customs duty of about SGD 7 per pack has been levied on the import of cigarettes, the receipt of payment must be kept until the end of the trip. At Singapore's Changi Airport, the rule is strictly observed: one person - one piece of hand luggage. Gambling and chewing gum are prohibited in the country. For garbage thrown on the street, a fine of 500 SGD is due, and for a second violation, they may well be sent to prison. Smoking in closed public places, buses, elevators, cinemas, theaters, government offices, restaurants and shops is prohibited by law, the fine is even steeper - 1000 SGD. And on the street, smoking is allowed only in specially designated places, usually either where it is written, or near green bins with an ashtray in its upper part. Smoking on the go is prohibited. The fine for crossing the road in the wrong place is 500 SGD, the same amount will have to be paid for driving in a car without a seat belt fastened.
electricity – 230V/50Hz (English socket)
phone code - +65
time zone — UTC +8, Moscow +4h
Embassy of the Russian Federation in Singapore: Postal address: 51 Nassim Road, Singapore 258439
Phones: (65) 6235 1832; (65) 6235 1834 - on duty (24 hours) (65) 6737 0048 - Consular Section (working days, from 10:00 to 12:00 h.h.)
Fax: (65) 6733 4780