About 23% of Singapore, almost a quarter of the country, is reclaimed land. I’ve always wondered about that term “reclaimed.” Since Earth is “the water planet” shouldn’t we just say claimed? Much of this land is used for industry or transportation, oil refineries are a natural at this navigational choke point, as are huge container terminals, and an extension of the airport. But some of this reclaimed land is for business and recreation.
We took the free shuttlebus from the ship to a shopping mall where we could get on the SMRT. The whole trip was on “reclaimed” land. Beach road is far from the beach, Bayfront Metro is not on the bay front, Bayview Drive does not run along the bay. The cruise terminal is on reclaimed land. There is a huge stretch of empty land between the terminal and the new downtown sky scrapers or the new recreational developments at Marina Bay.
When we crossed the Singapore River I was distressed because the rows of shop houses and steps down to the river that I remembered were not there, modern shopping centers and parks were. I was afraid that those bits of old Singapore had disappeared. They hadn’t it’s just that the river is longer. The Merlion, which stood at the mouth of the river, still does, it’s just that they had to put it on a barge and move it to the new mouth of the river, which empties into a good sized bay, which is now separated from the sea by a dyke. They are turning the river and bay into a fresh water reservoir, the largest in Singapore. It will supply tap water for a growing city. The bum boats on the river are now electric powered so there is no oil spilling into this new reservoir.
We took an electric bum boat ride on the river and across the, now freshwater, marina bay. There is a new arts center that looks like a durian fruit, a foot bridge designed to look like DNA strands and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (three skyscrapers with, what looks like a boat hull, stretched between them.) The Hawkers Market we enjoyed 30 years ago has moved to reclaimed land but is still across from the Merlion.
And because they fit, here are some pics of the new Singapore Skyline.