|Today we had a tour in the afternoon, so we decided to sleep in and go to breakfast around 9:00. After breakfast, we strolled around the city. Jean wanted to go back and see Raffles Hotel from the front. We took pictures of the exterior, but the hotel itself is closed to the public due to renovations. As we walked along, we saw a sign for a toy museum and decided, why not? So we found the Mint Museum of Toys down a side street. The senior rate admission was only $10 SGD ($7.25 USD). The museum was small, but on four floors.
We took the elevator up to the fifth floor and started with the Outerspace toys. Along the walls on each floor they had posters from movies that went with the toys, i.e. Star Trek, Forbidden Planet, etc. There was one shelf of Robby the Robot in all different sizes, plus space ships, Buck Rogers, Dr. Who, Flash Gordon, etc.
Level 4 was Characters like Batman, Superman, Green Hornet, Astroboy, Tin-Tin, Popeye, Gigantor, Ultraman, Disney, etc. Level 3 was Childhood Favorites. This floor was actually devoted to mainly Barbie. They had a huge board about this guy who has the largest Barbie collection by a male. There was even a TV running an interview with the dude. There was a timeline for Barbie. There some other dolls were mixed in as well on this floor.
Level 2 was Collectibles, such as Beatles & Monkees memorabilia, QE II Coronation items, James Bond and others collectibles.
When we reached the main floor, which was the entrance, it was time to return to the hotel to prepare for our afternoon excursion. Our pick-up time was 1:30 for our East Coast and Changi Tour. We went down early, and our guide, Nelson, was in the lobby. He was waiting to be picked-up also. When our driver arrived (he was a little late, he had gone to the wrong Rendezvous Hotel), we went over to the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel to the tour gathering place. A couple from Australia joined us.
We had a long drive out to the East Coast. Some of the journey was through a 5 km tunnel, a part of which was under the seabed. On the way out, Nelson reiterated a lot of the information about Singapore which we had learned over the past two days. Then he began discussing Changi, the village which was our first stop. It was named after the Changi tree. They have an airport for private planes and air cargo transport. Singapore is centrally located as a transit and shipment hub. We passed a few military bases both active and decommissioned along our route.
Our first stop was to learn about the Changi Beach Massacre. The British had built forts and gun embankments along the East coast back in the 1930s when they first heard grumblings about a Japanese attack. During WW II, the Japanese did attack, but not by the sea. They came down via Malaysia through the jungle and surprised the British at their weakest point. Known as the Battle of Singapore, the British surrendered the colony on February 15, 1945.
The Japanese military took people out to the beach with their hands bound behind their backs and shot them. This was a purge of hostile elements among the Chinese living in Singapore. We stood on the peaceful beach where this occurred hearing the story as air cargo planes arrived overhead.
Our next stop was in the village for a snack and WC break. As we walked Nelson talked about life in a village, the design of the housing (storefront below and living quarters above) and other aspects of the village.
Nelson explained the Singapore flag when I inquired about the design. The upper red section symbolizes brotherhood and equality, the lower white section represents purity and virtue. The crescent moon on the flag was requested by the Muslim population and stands for a young nation rising. The Chinese requested the five stars that are next to the crescent. The stars represent the nation's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.
After Jean and I took care of business, we walked along the food booths, and found a bakery. I purchased a donut and we split it as we sat with Nelson and the Australian couple.
We then travelled over to Tampines. Along the way we passed a prison that was once an interment camp for 37,00 British soldiers after their surrender in 1945. The Japanese had marched the Brits out from downtown Singapore to Tampines. Then two weeks later, they marched the wives and children out to Tampines, but to a different location. So the story goes that as the ladies got close, they began singing to let the men know that they were alright and close by, which calmed the soldier's fears.
We then parked in the Tampines New Town section. This area won an UN World Habit Award for being an outstanding human settlement project. It is because of the green spaces, the linked neighborhood centers, the transportation network, parks and open spaces. We parked nearby and walked among the buildings. Nelson pointed out two opposing coffee shops - one a regular shop, the other a very strict Muslim shop. But the neighborhood gets along just fine. Singapore is proud of its divesity.
We observed a section for exercising, play, a fresh fruits and vegetable market, a regular supermarket, etc. We walked to the other end on the wide pedestrian walk between the buildings and looked over at the local government building that also is the transportation hub. This and other small cities and villages is where it is affordable for many Singaporeans.
Our last stop was in Kampong Glam to see the Masjid Sultan Kini Diiktiraf Mosque. We walked along a street where Nelson pointed out that the houses. do not have air conditioning, but they have a flow-through draft. When the door is closed, the air flow goes out/in the decorated transom window. The more highly decorated, the richer the family that lived there.
We then walked down a side street and looked at the mosque while Nelson talked about the architecture and customs of the mosque. Those who were too poor to pay, donated glass bottles for the building. These bottles form the black band under the gold dome. We then walked down a street filled with restaurants of all nationalities. Nelson pointed out that in the old days, the shop/restaurant owner lived upstairs. He pointed out the one side of the street was not as rich as the other. We then walked back to the van.
We then returned to the city and were dropped at our hotel. We refreshed ourselves and took a taxi to the Hard Rock Cafe in the city for our dinner. I had a pulled pork sandwich and Jean had a kale salad. We shared the spinach and artichoke dip appetizer. After I shopped in the Rock Shop for my local HRC pin, we went out and hailed a cab back to our hotel to pack for tomorrow's journey.