“Intruders” Singapore

I’m always fascinated at the mention and description of Singapore in novels and whatnot. I’ve just finished reading The Intruders by Stephen Coonts about a naval aviator in the 70’s … and here it is (from the beginning of chapter sixteen):

Singapore lies at the southern end of the Malay peninsula, a degree and a half north of the equator. This city is the maritime crossroads of the earth. Ships from Europe by way of Suez and the Red Sea, India, Pakistan, Africa and the Middle East transit the Strait of Malacca and call here before entering the South China Sea. Ships from America, Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea and the Soviet Far East call here on the way west. The city-state is close enough to the Sunda Strait that it makes a natural port call for ships from the Orient bound for South Africa or South America via the Cape of Good Hope.

Although it is one of the world’s great seaports, Singapore doesn’t have a harbor. The open roadstead is always crammed with ships riding their anchors, except on those rare occasions when a typhoon threatens. There are few piers large enough for an oceangoing vessel, so the majority of the cargo being off- or on-loaded in Singapore travels to and from the ships in lighters. The squadrons of these busy little boats weaving their way through the anchored ships from the four corners of the earth and all the places in between make Singapore unique.

As befits a great seaport, the city is a racial melting pot. The human stew is composed mostly of Malay, Chinese, Thai, Hindu, Moslem, and Filipino, with some Japanese added for seasoning, but there are whites there too. British, primarily, because Singapore was one of those outposts of empire upon which the sun never set, but also people from most of the countries of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and, inevitably, America.

Visitors who have always considered their place, their nation, as the zenith of civilization here receive a shock. Vibrant, cosmopolitan Singapore is a major vortex, one of those rare places where the major strains of the human experience come crashing together and swirl madly around until something new is created.