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Singapore Our Eden in Asia

I arrived in Singapore in May 1973 and was met at the Paya Lebar Airport by the American Express. The trip into town was very moving for me. I was back in Asia for sure. At this time a lot of old Singapore still existed. The country was rapidly becoming a very modern city. There was still enough of the old left to make me feel good.

Singapore Airport

On the trip to the hotel I could see that much of the old Asia was still there. The quaint shops were still there and the hustle and bustle was still going there. The last time I was in Singapore was in 1957. I could see that it was changing very fast. The government of Singapore was making a concerted effort to relocate the people to new estates scattered around the island. There were a lot more autos on the road which was causing a lot of traffic problem. There is a saying that there is regular time and there is Asian Time. They still were able to adjust to whatever was dealt them. As we got closer to Orchard Road the traffic got worse and there was more modern buildings. I was getting a running commentary from the American Express driver as we made our way to Orchard Road.


I was deposited with my many suitcases at the Hilton Hotel. I had not expected to see a five star hotel, but I could see that there were other real nice hotels in the area. This was a very modern area.


I had to wait around Singapore for about 6 days while my visa was being processed. That gave me a lot of time to see the sights. I  spent some of the time shopping for groceries at Fitzpatricks and Cold

Stores.  When I got to Singapore the American Express office was located downtown. I decided one day to walk from the hotel to American Express just so I could see the sights up close. It was a great experience. I would wander in and out to the many shops along the way. Once downtown I also walked around looking at the riverfront shops like Change Alley  and Pirates Alley. You could get just about anything you could think of there.


All good things must come to an end. I was advised that my visa was ready and that they would pick me up the next day. It really was good because I was spending money that I did not have. I left Singapore on the Caltex plane for my first view of Indonesia.
The next time I visited Singapore was about a month later to pick up my family. As things go this was not going as planned. It took some time for them to get to Singapore because of a problem with flights which caused them to be delayed in the Philippines. That gave me more time to explore Singapore. I was buying groceries like they had stopped making food. Everyone said I should buy more because it was hard to get things in Indonesia. I still had time to visit some of the many back streets. When they arrive I was real happy to see my two girls. I was an old salt and started showing them the sights. After a few days their visa was ready and we left Singapore for Indonesia.

Singapore was a place that we could go and see some of civilization and spend money. Every three months we were given time off to go to Singapore. Of course the family could go to Singapore anytime they needed. We would go out on a Thursday on Garuda International Airlines and come back on the Caltex Plane on Tuesday. It was a trip that we all looked forward to as you would Christmas. Usually, the flight would arrive Singapore around noon which gave us 4-1/2 days to do business. Sometimes fires and weather would cause delays. Plans were made days before we actually left Indonesia. A telex had to be sent to American Express telling the hotel arrangement and the days. The only means of communicating with the outside world was by a Telex system to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia then to Singapore. If you needed and appointment like a doctor or dentist they would schedule it for us. American Express would Mandarin Singaporeweb.bmpmeet us at the airport and take us to our hotel. The first few visits we stayed at the Hyatt on Scott Road. After awhile we settle on staying at the newly built Mandarin Hotel on Orchard Road. Cassandra was glad when we stopped going to the Hyatt.  We had to cross a very busy road to get to Shaw Center and the Amoseas Office. This was something that she did not like in the least. I could never convince her that I would not let the cars run over her. Trust in her father was lacking at this juncture. With a lot of panic, grabbing and wailing we would get across the street without loss of life or limb. Cassandra would usually wake up about the same time as I did and we would go to breakfast together. I really enjoyed our breakfasts together. After breakfast we would go to Fitzpatrick's Market and Cold Stores, two markets near the hotel, to do some shopping for food. There was a music store,  Beethoven's , across the street from the Mandarin Hotel that would record music for us to take back to Indonesia. They had a room full of LP records that you could sort through and pick out the ones you liked. They would copy the record to a reel that would hold about three LP's. In Indonesia we did not have TV, Radio, Newspaper, or Magazines, so we spent a lot of time reading books and listening to music. I bought a stereo system from Atlas Sound when I first arrive in Singapore which included a reel to reel. Singapore had a lot of places the we could by book. Generally, the books were British. It was necessary to go check in with American Express to exchange money and check on amail and other things that they did for us. When we first got to Singapore, the American Express office was located at Raffel's Place in the downtown area near the river. They would later move to Orchard Road in the Shaw Center. About the same time Robinson's, an old department store, would also move to Orchard Road. I liked CK Tang, but Cassandra was not so enthusiastic. The store was always crowded and she was very small and would lose contact with me. I would hear the voice calling Charles. The International Building, where Amoseas was located, had a neat store that sold office supplies. Dr Chin also had an office here. He was the doctor that we would visit when we had a problem that could not be handled by Caltex doctors in Rumbai. Orchard Road was fast becoming the shopping mecca. CK Tang another department store was already located in the Orchard Road area. There were several shopping centers that we would frequent. There was Shaw Center, Tanglin Shopping Center, and Orchard Road Shopping Center. Most hotels had a shopping area attached. Before we left the Lucky Plaza open, a huge center across from the Mandarin. There was no shortage of aplaces that would sell you something in Singapore. At this time Singapore was fairly cheap on things like electronics. Food was another thing. Originally, I bought Australian beef, but soon learned that the best meat came from New Zealand. It cost more, but it was worth it. The Australian beef was like the meat that I grew up with, tough and had a tallow problem. The tallow would stick to the top of your mouth. This was the same in Texas. I didn't know better then, but after New Orleans I just did not like it. We could get most foods that we had used in the USA, but a lot was British. We got local powdered milk like KLIM. Fresh vegetables and some fruit could be obtained from the Tukans in Indonesia. I did go to a big indoor market just down from Coldstores to get okra. I had brought okra seed back from to USA and got a farmer to plant them for me. A Chinese told me one night that okra was anative to China and could be purchased in Singapore. When I got to the market, I found a lot of okra. They packed up a big cooler full that I picked up the morning that we were leaving to go back to Indonesia. We were able to order vegetables and fruits from Fitzpatricks and Coldstores for shipment to Indonesia.

Clothing was a little expensive and it would not fit me. Cassandra and Yvonne could get things but they did not like the styles. Of course Yvonne soon found the many stores that sold baubles, bangles, and beads.

Hawkers would set up food stall in car parks at night. They would bring in acooking equipment, tables, and chairs. The food was very good, but Yvonne did not think highly of this way of eating. We did have a ritual of having the evening meal at the Stables, a restaurant in the basement of the Mandarin. I was a great place where I could get a prime rib. It was usually dark and semi private. The other restaurant was the Belvedere which was basically served French food and was very bright. Every so often I would go to Chinatown and visit the Peoples Park. There was just about aanything that man or beast would want there. I was usually looking for hardware. The first time I went there I needed an old type key for an aantique box that we had. Found hundreds of them. The place had many shops that were small crowded spaces. The prices were a lot better here that on Orchard Road. I enjoyed walking around just look at the sights. They would provide entertainment and there was food.

We would go to Maypole Cold Stores out on East Coast Road to do some shopping, They didn't have much, but she would get you anything you wanted if it was in Asia. Cassandra and I went there one time during Chinese New Year. Mary gave her an orange and a gift. After doing business I asked the cab driver that I had hired to tell us where we could go sightseeing. He spoke poor English and kept saying Zoo Garden. He took us to Johor Gardens. Cassandra enjoyed it and I always enjoyed being with her. He dropped us off at a shopping center on Orchard Road that sold electronics. It was across from the Japanese-Chinese Park. It was a


very enjoyable day. Sunday morning in Singapore is a very quiet place. After breakfast Cassandra and I would walk around until things opened up and got going. They builit a real nice walk way that extended from the Mandarin down to Paterson-Scott Road. I can not leave Singapore without saying something about the many types of food that was available. They had some of the finest restarunts you could desire in the hotels, but they also had other places to eat. Just about anywhere you went there would be some type food stall. They smelled so good you had to try them from time to time. Even Robinson's Department Store had a real quaint tea shop that resembled something you would see in England. There were no American Fast Food If I had to say what I liked best about Singapore, I would have to just stand there and not be able to single out anything. It was all good and I really enjoyed my many visits. I still believe that it is the prettiest city in the world. The government had real strick rules on littering and dope usage. It was a heavy fine for littering and it was against the law to chew gum in town. They say that dope usage could cause you some very long stays in the local prison at Chaingi. I dont know if theu were as strict as everyone said. The traffice was getting to be a problem. They have since built an underground tram system. Pictures that I see now are amazing, but I am glad I was there when I was.