|Go green in
By Pradeep Nishantha
Living in a tropical country with all-year-round
sunshine and monsoonal rains, abundance of greenery
is not a strange sight for us Sri Lankans. Cascading
waterfalls and free-flowing rivers add much charm to
the natural environment that we are blessed with in
Recently, I visited a country that can be described
as a ‘concrete jungle.’ Yet, to my utmost surprise,
it is a country that can also be described as a
green valley, especially because of the respect they
have for the natural environment.
My friend and I reached Singapore at around 8
O’clock in the morning. Upon leaving the airport, we
met Mr. Lo of Singapore Soka Association, who
escorted us to the Association where many
Singaporeans were engaged in morning worship.
It was while we were on our way to breakfast that
I first witnessed the beauty of greenery that seemed
to adorn every street corner. Even the tiniest space
available between harsh concrete pavements, lanes,
streets and footpaths, were adorned with plants
bearing multi-colored blossoms. Although the city
was bustling with high-rising concrete buildings,
the appearance of greenery gave us a sense of
serenity and freshness.
The other thing that took me by surprise was
Singapore’s public transport system – and it made me
compare the system with the one existing in Sri
Lanka. Near each bus stop, there were maps
indicating routes and places. With such a system in
place, it is impossible for a foreigner to get lost
in the busy streets of Singapore.
When the automatic doors open, passengers get on to
the bus only through the front entrance. Then they
can deposit the required amount into the box near
the bus driver. Or, a passenger can use a bus pass.
Unlike here, passengers do not enter and exit the
buses through both doors. They only exit when the
back door opens automatically. The system is
entirely automated, saves time and less hazardous
for the public.
Most people in Singapore live in apartment
complexes that run high up to the sky. They are
systematically built and very well maintained. Also,
the Singaporeans seem to give great prominence to
add greenery to their surroundings. Their roads,
pavements and virtually everywhere we looked was
free of dirt and extremely neat.
Even when one walks down a busy street, with
hundreds of cars and taxis regularly running down
them, it gives the feeling you are walking down a
garden path. There was not a spec of dirt to be
seen. One cannot litter the public places at their
whim. There were designated places where one has to
dispose of their wastes; if one were to disobey, a
heavy fine follows. Citizens of Singapore seem to
obey these rules to the letter.
China Town is one of the biggest attractions for
tourists in Singapore. There are many trinkets made
according to Chinese traditions and culture for
sale. The area too is decorated with many colours
and symbols pertaining to Chinese culture.
Sim Lim Square and Musthapha Centre are two of
the biggest shopping centres in Singapore that
attract a lot of tourists, including many Sri
Lankans. From electronics to computers, camera,
clothes, cosmetics, watches, costume jewellery,
handbags, DVD and anything and everything can be
bought in these places. These shopping complexes
comprise several sprawling floors, so if you visit
these places, be prepared to spend close to a day
Visitors need to be a little cautious when consuming
Singaporean cuisine, to make sure that you will not
come across some dishes that are not familiar to
your palettes, in particularly, frogs.