Hello from Singapore!
Last Wednesday was a public holiday for us Singaporeans as it was Deepavali – the Indian festival of light. In conjunction with Deepavali, the Istana held an Open House which was open to the public. The Istana had its first open house on 1 Jan 1960 and has since opened its doors to the public on selected public holidays.
上周三是公众假期，我们新加坡人，因为它是屠妖节 – 光的印度节日。在屠妖节的同时，总统府举行的开放日为公众开放。总统府了首次开放日上1960年1月1日，至今敞开大门向公众选择公共假日。
Usually, I just walk past the Istana gates wondering what lies in there without ever venturing in due to the heavy presence of policemen and guards. I got to enter the massive gates visit the sprawling grounds of the Istana on the public holiday as it was an Open House day.
Here’s a picture of the queue that had built up shortly after the opening hours! Singaporean citizens, permanent residents and foreign visitors alike queue up orderly in anticipation.
We were only let in after a series of stringent checks by the police force – including the xray machines you have at airports.
我们经过了一系列严格的检查，由警察只让 – 包括你在机场的X光机。
The Istana is the official residence and office of the President of Singapore and it means palace in Malay, my mother tongue language. It is where the president receives and entertains important state guests. It is situated on a very large plot of land in the urbanised setting of Orchard Road (which is Singapore’s retail and entertainment boulevard very popular with tourists).
Built between 1867-1869 while Singapore was still under the colonalisation of the British, the British colonial government acquired the land and built an official home for the British Governor under the instructions of Sir Harry Saint George Ord. When Singapore gained self-government in 1959, the Governor was replaced by the “Yang-di-Pertuan-Negara” (head of state) and then replaced by the President.
State gifts are exhibited in the Banquet Hall during the Istana’s open house days, and the centerpiece of this room is the 220kg, 2.35-metre wide Maria Theresa-styled candelabra chandelier and the State Room and the Reception Hall has plasterwork of fruits as part of the ceiling’s decorative feature. Unfortunately, no pictures were captured of these as we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside.
Fortunately, the rain did not damper the spirits of all the visitors who came to visit the grand premises.
I’ll leave you with a picture of me in the premises on that day!
To find out more about the Istana, Click here.