Thursday, March 5, 2009

Looking up the Singapore River

On the left side of the river is the heart of Singapore's financial centre. All the tall buildings are banks. Maybank, Bank of China, Stanchart and United Overseas Bank(UOB).

Look at the clean and green water in the river. It wasn't like that for almost a century. The river was cleaned up in the the late 1970s to what it is today. The spot we are looking at in the photo was where the river boats would load and unload their cargoes in the earlier days. The huge wooden boats, called tongkangs then, were the king of the river. Their loads were rice, sugar and all the spices and food for the island. This was where the story of Singapore started.

The tongkangs had been cleared from the area when all the trading activities were moved out. You may see some of them in modified forms as river taxis or something else along the way. And oh, the water in the river were once blackish in colour, with a strong pungent stench, and with many debris due to the high river traffic. Today the water is good enough for our tap. It is now part of the island's reservoir. Many of the towkays or millionaires made their fortune from this river.

Both sides of the river have been redeveloped for entertainment and recreational activities while some have been retained as modern commercial buildings. The photo below shows Maybank on the left and Bank of China on the right.

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