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Getting out into Singapore's busy harbor.

Getting out into Singapore's busy harbor

One of the busiest ports in the world, Singapore shows its dependence on foreign trade everywhere you look.

But getting out on the waters surrounding this island city makes the amazing recent growth of its shipping industry even more visible: in less than 20 years, miles of wharves, the most modern container-ship facilities, and round-the-clock movement of goods have replaced small working craft and antiquated godowns (warehouses). And riding the waves stirs breezes that cool the thick equatorial heat.

You have several choices, from quick harbor tours you arrange yourself to twilight dinner cruises. Scheduled ferry service to outer islands allows you to spend the day relaxing on a sunny beach or scuba diving or snorkeling. On one outing, you combine a panoramic view of the island from a cable car with a return trip by launch.

If you go to Sentosa, St. John's, or Kusu Island to swim, you'll find food stalls with drinks and a fair variety of Chinese, Malay, and Indian food. If you plan to be away over lunchtime and want to take along something to eat, stop first at the food stalls along Elizabeth Walk or in the old Telok Ayer Market near Clifford Pier. The twilight dinner cruises offer mediocre but filling Chinese food not unlike what you'd find at an American Chinese takeout place. Drinks are provided on all regularly scheduled boats.

Changing panorama: high-rises to refineries and open water

Leaving the pier, boats thread their way through the throng of bumboats parked in the inner harbor. From this low perspective, the high-rise banks and other financial offices behind Raffles Quay loom large. Then out to open water, where freighters and a few cruise ships appear. To the west, you pass Kusu and St. John's islands; oil refineries fill another island, and a supertanker may anchor nearby. As your boat circles, views of the manmade city-state keep changing, and new buildings seem to go up before your eyes.

It's the return trip that's most impressive. Singapore is a redistribution center for goods from all over the world, and the container docks work 24 hours a day. Near the World Trade Centre, you'll see every stage of loading and unloading; normally, no ship has to wait to berth along-side the wharf.

Tropical twilight, which falls at about 7 P.M. year-round, gives the most changeable panorama; daylight, through sunset (often spectacular and always quick, with no afterglow), to twinkling city lights.

Ways to get out on the water

Harbor cruises from Clifford Pier. Water Tours and Eastwind Organisation (see below) schedule departures at 10:30 A.M. and 3 and 4 P.M.; cost is $10 U.S. for adults, $5 for children. Cruises last 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

You can also arrange your own tour with boat owners at Clifford Pier. Walk out on the pier and you'll be approached by the owners or their flacks. Bargain with them for price, route, and return time. Boats are small and somewhat grimy, but you see the same things in a less commercial atmosphere. Typical trip rates are $15 to $25 an hour.

Dinner cruises from Clifford Pier. For about $17 adults, $8.50 children, Water Tours and Eastwind offer a harbor tour, a Chinese buffet dinner afloat, and canned music for dancing. Water Tours' dinner cruises are on junks that have an authentic feel, though their masts have been shortened.

For harbor and dinner cruises, buy tickets at the pier, check with your hotel concierge, or call Water Tours (3-A, First Floor, Clifford Pier) at 914519 or 533-9811, or Eastwind Organisation (7 Clifford Pier) at 533-3432.

Cable car and ferry to Sentosa Island and back. Go by cable car from the Jardine Steps at the World Trade Centre, return by ferry; frequent departures. Various tickets are available; some include a monorail ride around the island and entry to a museum and other attractions; prices range from about $1.50 to $4. Inquire at Sentosa Information Office, #01-30A, 1 Maritime Square, World Trade Centre; 270-7888. (The World Trade Centre is a long walk west of Clifford Pier on busy streets; cabs are plentiful, or ask your hotel for the correct bus to take.)

Ferries to outer islands (from World Trade Centre and Clifford Pier). For information, call 274-7111.

Cruises on Singapore River. As part of redevelopment of the riverfront, one new hotel expects to offer cruises on the river. When you arrive in Singapore, ask the Tourist Promotion Board for details.

Photo: Clifford Pier, near downtown, is starting point for most cruises. Fleet of working craft called bumboats anchors in channel at right

Photo: Eased along by tug, top-heavy container ship passes near twilight tour dinner cruise
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Directory
Date:May 1, 1986
Words:790
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