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  • i'm in southeast asia with my 1913 bradshaw's  handbook published at the height of european  

  • imperialism my 100 year old guy book will  leave me on a railway adventure through  

  • archipelagos and peninsulas dotted with  hills forests and paddy fields i'll tour  

  • towering mega cities and magnificent mosques i'll  encounter golden buddhas and jewelled temples  

  • and experience some of the world's most  spectacular and notorious railways as i travel  

  • through the diverse nations of this vast region  i'll learn how they asserted their independence  

  • against the british french and dutch empires to  become the economic tigers and dragons of today

  • my two and a half thousand mile exploration  

  • of six countries of southeast asia that started  in hong kong has finally brought me to singapore

  • singapore is a free port a great  entrepreneur of merchandise  

  • and a meeting place of representatives of almost  every european asiatic and american nation founded  

  • in 1819 by sir stamford raffles that was the  entry in my bradshaws more than a century ago  

  • welcome to singapore the only sovereign  islands city state once britain's most  

  • successful colonial invention and today one  of the world's most prosperous countries  

  • on this leg i'll begin in the central business  district then travel to tuas on the west coast  

  • i'll explore the historic  neighborhood of chinatown  

  • and visit marina bay which  once lay beneath the sea

  • on my travels i'll soak up  the street art of chinatown  

  • i took 10 weekends to paint this  mural while working as an accountant  

  • you were not a professional artist then yeahwasn't now i am i'll visit the birthplace of a  

  • world famous cocktail hello guess what i'm going  to order a singer possibly a singer foresling

  • and help to keep the nation's  orchids in bloom isn't that beautiful

  • this tiny independent nation at the  southern tip of the malay peninsula  

  • is an astonishing asian success story in just 200  years it's grown from a swamp-filled jungle colony  

  • into a center of international finance and trade  

  • its multi-ethnic society  of almost 6 million people  

  • enjoys one of the highest living standards  and the lowest crime rates in the world

  • here on the singapore river is where it all began

  • singapore is situated says the guidebook on two  sides of a salt creek that empties into the sea  

  • at the west head of a deep bay navigable  for small boats vessels lie at the  

  • one and a half miles long away from the town  

  • bradshaw's was clearly impressed but todaythousand ships are in singapore at any one time  

  • one leaves or arrives every two or three  minutes and then there's all of this  

  • with the second biggest port in the world  after shanghai singapore is a maritime giant

  • i'm heading to its west coast where plans  are afoot to double the port's capacity

  • this train is taking me to the mega port  construction site towards singapore's future

  • they're building the new port at twas on five  square miles of land reclaimed from the sea a  

  • practice well established in singapore since the  time of raffles it will be the world's largest  

  • fully automated container port and i'm gettingsneak preview with senior director of engineering  

  • tam y-wah mr town this is on a bewildering scale  all of this then is land that you are reclaiming  

  • from the sea is that right oh yes that's right  we are constructing four fingers for the entire  

  • transport development and this is finger two so  this is a finger this is one of the four fingers  

  • that we are constructing absolutely amazing  and the sea wall sits out there and you just  

  • fill in behind it is that how it works uh yes but  before that dc was actually fabricated on shore  

  • what does that look like that sea wall the  sea was actually a k zone structure reinforced  

  • concrete structures about 28 meters high and  that's equivalent to a 10 story high building  

  • and weighs about 15 000 tons and these caissons  will be slotted in next to each other to create  

  • the seawall will they absolutely and then the  question must be why do you need to do this  

  • our vision is to build a port that can  actually increases productivity and efficiency  

  • optimize the land use trenton  singapore's position as a global hub port

  • this is the biggest port project in the world  and the first phase will be operational in 2021  

  • for a bird's eye view i'm going 90 foot up to  the top of one of the massive concrete cubes or  

  • caissons that will form the sea walls  mr tom what an extraordinary sight and  

  • this is what a completed caisson looks  like yes absolutely this is a completed  

  • case on structure and it's ready to be launched  into the sea and what i can see here is that it  

  • has a cellular structure it's largely hollow yes  it is hollow for a reason because we need to first  

  • and foremost floating away water so that it can  sink into the sea these enormous caissons at first  

  • actually float on the water do they yes that's  right and then you sink it how we actually pumps  

  • in rash materials displace the water out it  will sink all the way down to the sea bay  

  • this mega facility will replace four separate  container ports and be fully operational in  

  • 2040. what will you do with the existing  poor facilities transport will combine all  

  • singapore's existing port operations at one  site the consolidation of the container port  

  • facilities will be part of a larger plan to free  up land for redevelopment as a new district well  

  • i feel like i've come to the right vantage point  to see the future of singapore yeah thank you

  • this station raffle's place

  • the origin of this nation was the vision of one  man i've come to the raffles landing site in the  

  • central business district to find out about him  from professor of asian studies john mixick john  

  • what was it that stanford raffles does in 1819  well he walked ashore here in january and there  

  • was a big house right where we're standing now  which belonged to local chief and he saw maybe  

  • 100 houses and there were maybe a hundred families  living on boats those were the sea nomad groups  

  • and then there were maybe 20 or 30 chinese living  a bit further upstream did you therefore need  

  • anyone's permission to develop singapore they had  to get first the permission of the local chief and  

  • they signed a treaty very quickly and then they  sent a messenger down into that real archipelago  

  • got permission from the sultan to set up  something here so he had to go through channels  

  • sir thomas stamford raffles joined the british  east india company age 14. while serving in penang  

  • he made a name for himself by studying malay  culture and rose to become governor of java

  • did he have good reason to think that  singapore would make a good sequel  

  • raffles actually had history on his side he'd  collected this old book an old malay manuscript  

  • called the millennials in english and that  portrays singapore as the first great malay  

  • trading port and so he thought they could revive  it did work begin at once in building a port  

  • instantly the main thing that he used to try and  get people to come here was the duty-free aspect  

  • and so that attracted thousands of people  it's interesting this where did he get  

  • the free port idea because that was clearly  fundamental to its success yeah he'd already  

  • come up with this idea himself he'd been talking  to the local malay people down in java without  

  • the dutch and one of the main gripes they had was  that they had to pay all these taxes raffles very  

  • enlightenedly realize that if they didn't squeeze  them the volume of trade would increase many fold

  • raffos didn't live to see his port flourish dying  of a brain tumor in 1826 on the eve of his 45th  

  • birthday it's quite a controversial figure he was  accused of incompetence and corruption in java  

  • on the other hand he was a brilliant botanist and  apparently he certainly knew his history was great  

  • orientalist how do you sum up this extraordinary  man he was very colorful everybody else looks like  

  • just a great bureaucrat next to him he had a lot  of business ideas which were ahead of his time  

  • but he also had this very great interest in  the local culture which was totally unique  

  • in his period i'd like to understand how  international trade first flourished here  

  • so i'm heading to collier key for a trip along the  singapore river with maritime expert donna brunero  

  • hello donna hello hi michael very good to see you  it's good to see you donal raffles comes at 1819  

  • and pretty quickly they begin to build  a port where do they do that actually  

  • the development was here in the singapore  river within a few years you're looking at  

  • quite a large population up to 10 000 had moved  from different parts of the region but you've  

  • also got european traders coming in and they're  trading what spices lacquerwood commodities  

  • from the region and then you've got that great  east-west trade so goods from india goods from  

  • china as well and when do rubber and tin appear  on the scene rubber and tin it's later it's more  

  • towards the 1900s and this is where you've got the  british really affirming their position in british  

  • malaya and the rubber and the tin transported down  by rail mainly and it shipped out of singapore in  

  • the early part of the 20th century can be some  idea then of what the port is like there were a  

  • lot of complaints by merchants about how congested  the river was so there was an investigation and  

  • over about a three day period they surveyed the  number of ships coming and going from the river  

  • and in some six thousand ships at least it earned  the nickname of being the liverpool of the east  

  • my guidebook talks about a new port having  been created outside the river where there  

  • are long walls for the vessels when does that  happen ah this happens more again the late  

  • 1800s where they talk about the creation ofnew harbour and this was basically because when  

  • you have larger sailing ships and steamships the  river can't accommodate them the old harbor can't  

  • accommodate so they develop what they call the new  harbour and then goes on to be called keppel i'm  

  • very intrigued that here in the financial district  there's nonetheless a row of lovely old houses  

  • what were they and how they've been preserved  these are actually the old shop houses or go  

  • down so warehouses around the 1980s the  singapore river was really badly polluted  

  • and there was this massive cleanup operation part  of that was also the restoration of the buildings  

  • and completely reviving the singapore  river as a tourist destination

  • i'm ending my day at the city's iconic  landmark named after the man who put singapore  

  • on the map raffles mentioned in my bradshaw's  guide one of the most famous hotels in the world  

  • it's on beach road hard to believe that  this building once looked out over the sea  

  • all these skyscrapers beyond  here are built on reclaimed land  

  • welcome to raffle singapore thank you very  much indeed pleasure to be here thank you

  • today a national monument the hotel opened in  1887 and was soon a byword for colonial luxury  

  • counting among its guests film  stars presidents and royalty

  • it's also the birthplace of the  nation's world famous cocktail  

  • hello hello welcome to the wrong bar guess what  i'm going to order a single poisoning a single  

  • porcelain how long have you been serving that it  started to be served in 1915 created by nyang tong  

  • boon the local bartender why do you think it's so  popular why did it catch on so well it catches on  

  • because the the drink reflects singapore the  past and match perfectly with rafael's story

  • an exotic blend of gin bitters and the cures  were mixed with fruit juices and grenadine  

  • which gave it a distinctly feminine  look it is thank you very much

  • at a time when it wasn't considered  ladylike to drink in public  

  • this pink drink enabled women to partake of  something that looked very innocent but was  

  • in fact rather wicked all the well-known  international bar flies of drunk here  

  • ernest hemingway joseph conrad sunset moorm  noel coward charlie chaplin great lives  

  • but none had a biography to compare with the man  after whom this hotel is named stamford raffles

  • you free yeah i'm free yes sir try the  time please okay no problem let's go

  • this morning i'm forsaking the modern metro  for a mode of transport that evokes the age  

  • of my bratwal's guidebook rickshaw is  derived from a japanese word meaning  

  • manpowered carriage colonials  might have been hurried around  

  • by elderly coolies no longer fit to work in the  docks until modernizing singapore banned the  

  • rickshaw in 1947. tourists can still get a whiff  of empire in a tri-shore and it's going to be my  

  • vehicle to understanding the three-quarters  of the population that is ethnic chinese

  • when stamford raffles claim this island  for britain chinese merchants and fishermen  

  • already lived here after the colony was  established further immigrants arrived  

  • from china's southern provinces looking for  work and they became the largest ethnic group

  • in the shadow of the city's skyscrapers  lies the historic district of chinatown  

  • the cultural heart of  singapore's chinese community

  • artist yip yu chong is meeting me bymassive street mural which he has painted  

  • yu chong hello i'm michael welcome michael  what a pleasure glad to see you michael  

  • what a wonderful piece of work thank you first  of all tell me what is this wall this is the  

  • back wall of the ten hawking temple ammo street  this is one of the oldest streets in singapore  

  • and what story are you telling here in your miura  i've painted the story of the hawkins one of our  

  • chinese dialect groups who migrated from china in  the 1800s they traveled two weeks on the sea and  

  • arriving in singapore it was an arduous journey  and what are we seeing here now this scene depicts  

  • how they settle down their hardships and they  work as coolies and they built the first hospital  

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