As you can tell from my two previous posts, I’ve been to Singapore for a few days. I went on a business trip to visit my colleagues and we had a great team building event while I was there.
It was a great opportunity to revisit the ‘lion city’ which I had not seen for many years. My first and only visit to Singapore had been back in 1994, so it was time for a refresh.
I’m actually surprised that it is called ‘lion city’ (from the Malay word Singapura, according to Wikipedia) as there have never been any lions there. However, tigers might have lived there previously, so it would be more appropriate to call it ‘tiger city’, don’t you think?
During our team building event we also had to complete a small treasure hunt in the city centre, which took us across some famous cites, including the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) and the Raffles hotel (unfortunately the Long Bar was still closed).
Of course, we also went to see the Merlion, the famous mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, which is the mascot and national personification of Singapore. Again, it related to Singapore’s original name, Singapura, meaning ‘lion city’.
I had seen the Merlion (which is male by the way!) before, but that was in another spot. It has been relocated in 2002, as it was blocked by the Esplanade Bridge and no longer at the entrance of the Singapore River. It now stands on a newly reclaimed area in front of the Fullerton Hotel. Interestingly, the sculpture was aligned to face East, as this is meant to be more auspicious!
In case you are wondering why we are holding up our fingers shaped liked a ‘W’ – that stands for ‘Winners’ as we were very optimistic about our place in the treasure hunt race!
Then we went to the Central Business District, where we had to stand in front of the Landmark Tower and take a picture as evidence. We even had to bring back a souvenir, but without paying any money. So we posed as visitors and the security staff was kind enough to provide us with visitor stickers (not sure if this would have been possible in Hong Kong, where everyone seems to follow the rule book 101 per cent).
We also visited Chinatown and wandered through the streets until we found a temple that we had to locate. We talked to the staff there to find out more about the history and then asked them to take a picture of us – unfortunately too much incense got in the way so we don’t have a great picture after all.
Anyway, after that, we had to climb up all the steps to Fort Canning, where Raffles had built his first residence on the hill as well as Singapore’s first botanical garden in 1822. In 1859 a fort with an arms store, barracks and a hospital was erected – and a Fort Gate, which we had to find. This was a little misleading given there were four gothic gates and of course, one of the other competing teams was trying to mislead us. But we finally made it and found the right gate.
The whole treasure hunt took us about 3 hours, while the fastest team managed it in 1.5 hours – we clearly went around in circles and took our time to decipher the clues. But we had lots of fun and that’s the most important part.