Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Travel through Philately - Marina Bay Skyline

Stepping on the soil of Singapore, the trio of vertical pillars of Marina Bay Sands would be a sight to seek out for. The photogenic hotel cum shopping mall cum casino was thus named because of the bay it sat on, a piece of land that did not exist prior to the 1970s. While the famous building seek the most attention, it did not dominate the skyline alone. This recent issue of FDC featured three other buildings which shared the same fame with Marina Bay Sands, and which all are in the vicinity of the bay.

The FDC issued in May showed 4 featured buildings of Marina Bay, each one of them dominating one of the stamps.

Land reclamation done in the 1970s changed the landscape at Singapore River's mouth dramatically. If one were to arrive back in time, one would have seen the river flowing past the Central Business District directly into the sea instead of into the bay as it is now. The area was planned for a mixed use of commercial, hotel, entertainment and residential.

Dominating the attention of most visitors to the Marina Bay vicinity will undoubtedly be the Marina Bay Sands with its trio of pillars supporting an infinity pool at the top. Opened in 2010, the integrated resort, casino and shopping mall further raised Singapore's status as the destination hub for luxurious travel. The resort may dominate the skyline at its own corner, but it did not stand alone. Not featured in any of the stamps although they should be, the resort is accompanied by Gardens by the Bay, a large outdoor garden featuring floras from around the world, and ArtScience Museum in the shape of a blooming lotus.

A panoramic view of the Marina Bay skyline from Marina Bay Sands (image taken from Wikipedia).

Another modern structure dominating the skyline of Marina Bay is the Singapore Flyer, a large Ferris wheel rotating slowly amidst the blue sky. It began operation in 2008, its 150 meters diameter wheel bringing goggle-eyed visitors to marvel upon the whole of Singapore, looking as far as Johor to the north and the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan to the south. Supporting the wheel at the base is a three-storey building housing shops, bars and restaurants. To date, Singapore Flyer is the largest Ferris wheel in the world, taller than the Star of Nanchang (by 5m) and London Eye (by 30m).

A view of the Singapore Flyer against the setting sun (image taken from TimeOut Singapore).

Immortalized in the recently launched new series of Singaporean coins as well as in this FDC is Esplanade Theaters by the Bay with its distinctive thorny hide reminding viewers of a durian shell (more about the Singaporean coins in The New Singapore Coins). The theaters featured a concert hall with 1600 seating capacity and a larger theater with 2000 seating capacity. The buildings themselves may have earned humorous criticism from the public (colloquially called by the locals "durians"), the transformation they brought with them is undeniable. The city state may still be viewed as a place where material wealth matters more, but the arts community now have a venue to perform. Public performances on the outdoor theaters and in some areas indoors are a norm in weekends, providing a way for the public to spend time more constructively than through shopping.

The Fullerton Hotel as viewed from afar (image taken from TimeOut Singapore).

The odd one out of the 4 featured buildings would be the Fullerton Hotel. It occupied no more space of the skyline than any other buildings, its diminutive profile dwarfed by the rising skyscrapers around it. Yet it claimed more historical value than all of the three other buildings combined. Completed in 1928 and called Fullerton Building at that time, its original purpose and tenants were far different from its purpose in the modern world. Housing the General Post Office, the Singapore Club, various ministries and Chamber of Commerce, it was an important meeting place for most in the government. It also went through World War II, being used as the Japanese occupation's headquarters for military administration. Its recent incarnation as a hotel only happened in 2000, when it was bought over and refurbished by Sino Land Ltd, winning various awards and accolades since then while affording visitors and patrons a luxurious stay amidst a heritage building.

The skyline of Marina Bay depicted at the bottom of the FDC, showing from left the CBD with the Fullerton Hotel in front, Esplanade Theaters by the Bay, Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.

Date of Issue:             28 May 2013
Denominations:           1st Local, 2nd Local, 55¢, $2
Stamp Size:                35mm x 35mm
Perforation:                14.28 x 14.28
Paper:                        Unwatermarked
Printing Process:         Offset Lithography
Printer:                       Southern Color Print
Designer:                    Brainwave Design Co

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