Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 2

As a class, we have decided we will each submit a post for one day of our journey.  Today was our second day.  We may also post links to videos, photos, or slideshows and link them to the blog, so look for those too. 

This morning we all boarded a hired bus to tour the island.  We saw lots of less urban, greener space at first as we toured the cemeteries on the northwest of the island.  There were separate cemeteries for the various religions of Singaporeans.  We stopped at a rest stop in the north to see across the Straits of Johor to Johor Bahru.  We then drove down the center of the island and stopped at the VivoCity mall where we got lunch.  I had some Dim Sum and some fried pastry for dessert.  I learned from Fei how to ask for different quantities of food items in Mandarin, as the Dim Sum food stall was one of the few so far which did not list the names of the food in English.

After lunch, we took the MRT (Metro) to the beautiful Singapore Museum of History. The history gallery exhibit was well done, and had a guided audio tour with the option to hear more about the various artifacts of Singaporean history.  We could take turns at exploring the history of events or view the personal views of important figures in Singaporean history.  Singapore is a rather young country, so it was good to see videos of important Singaporeans remembering and describing their roles in Singaporean history.  Singapore is rather complex in that there is a rich history of the different ethnic groups and their interactions with foreign and colonial powers.

I would recommend the poet Edwin Thumboo’s “May 1954” which was featured in one of the exhibits.

Singapore seems to readily experiment in both its internal and external policies.  All indications are that their experiments are largely successful.  Most of these experiments were driven by necessity, and particularly economic development.  I am curious how Singaporeans might respond to environmental concerns, as richer nations tend to be more concerned with the health of their environment.  Hopefully as we meet more Singaporeans we can start to understand Singaporean values.

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