The last port of call was to see my old school friend Paul who is based in Singapore for the next few years. After the humidity and heat of Japan, I can say with pride I did not even crack a sweat in Singapore. It was relative bliss! Paul took me out for a very swish meal at the Fullerton Hotel, recommended to him by a good food guide, as well as by some friends of mine, who had also lived in Singapore for a while. We followed this up with the obligatory Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel. A bit disappointing as they were churning them out in bulk lots and I am convinced there was no alcohol in them - sickly sweet and violently red, but at least I can say I've done it now. It did feel very colonial with the fans all tied up in rows mechanically waving backwards and forwards. After my sling I had to have a beer to wash away all the syrup. Alcohol does not come cheap in Singapore and I do not exaggerate in saying our four drinks could have bought two three-course meals in many Sydney restaurants.
The next day we headed off to see Changi Museum, which was excellent to juxtapose with Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Changi concentrated a lot on the atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers, but on the positive side, featured many examples of comradeship, the ingenuity of the POWs and their families, and stories of individual heroism. It was eye-opening to see how much of the suffering inflicted by the Japanese was actually on the local populace, who had a rude awakening when the seemingly invincible British occupants surrendered to the Japanese. Many locals suffered beatings and other cruel treatment for trying to offer succour to the POWs and there are many heart-rending stories.
Singapore may be a small place geographically speaking, but culturally it is huge. I did a whirl-wind tour of glitzy shopping centres (including Orchard Road where I bought an ice cream and promptly fled), a wonderful bookstore where I got lost in their Asian Literature section for about two hours, then Little India and dinner at Chinatown. Dinner was a huge fish noodle soup and great big coconut with the top hacked off and a straw inserted for drinking. I was as full as a goog for under $AUD5. Unfortunately I did not have time for the famous night safari at the zoo, but I have already threatened Paul with another visit before he departs the island.