SINGAPORE, crossroads of S.E. Asia, melting pot of many cultures. This beautiful place is still the cleanest city in the EAST and one of the most interesting. Unfortunately, the shopping bargains are getting harder to find - Bangkok and Hong Kong have now replaced Singapore as the bargain basements of Asia.

Accommodation in hotels etc. is currently down to about 60% capacity. The tourism industry here is suffering from the world-wide decline in travel. Banking is Singapore's main industry with over 120 International Banks operating. The Singapore government runs a very tight ship in regard to law and order and control of corruption and so the confidence generated has attracted a large number of bankers, manufactures and international companies.

Manufacturing of electrical and electronic appliances is another rather large industry which is currently having some troubles with international competition. Singaporians are now pinning their hopes on a change to production of 'Hi tech' hard and software (computers).

Importing and exporting is big business in Singapore, especially in fruit and vegetables, and this led us to the Cuppage market where we saw fruit imported from all countries of S.E. Asia and the Pacific. We saw produce such as oranges and lettuce from California, avocados from North Queensland, pears from China, longans from Thailand, durians from Malaysia, mangos from Philippines and lychees from Taiwan. Most of the lychees were Haak Yip selling for about $4 S./kg. We found one variety selling for $16 S./kg and this had to be the famous No Mai Chee - the Chinese favourite lychee. They were absolutely delicious, very juicy, excellent flavour and nearly all chicken-tongue seeds.

We were invited on a tour of the demonstration farm of the Department of Primary Production. After a 30 km bus ride through delightful suburbs and countryside we arrived at the farm to be greeted by the O.I.C., Mr. Lee Chong Khee. The farm was a very interesting place to visit and we were given a grafting demonstration. One interesting point was that bud grafting is not nearly so popular these days. All over S.E. Asia it is being replaced, in many instances, with approach grafting. The stock trees are surrounded by wooden structures up to 2 metres high on which the pot plants are placed for ease of grafting.

We tasted a very nice durian there with a spicy aftertaste - its name, TAN No.4. Maybe one of our members would like to import it. We also saw a spineless durian - the spines had been removed for ease of handling but unfortunately it was too labour-intensive.

Their TAN SAPODILLA has proved a prolific bearer and is the main commercial variety. We saw a new dwarf ambarella which fruits at 10 months from seed. It can also be purchased at the farmers' market in Bangkok.

This demonstration farm has the largest rose apple fruit I've ever seen. Very delicious, but the fruit flies love them too. Most new mango plantings in Singapore are of the Nam Dok Mai cultivar. We ended the farm tour with a feast of durian and jakfruit. A warm thanks to Mr. Khee for his hospitality.

Singapore is often called the crossroads of S.E. Asia, but so much fruit, vegetables and produce arrive here from all over the world it could easily be called the "crossroads of the world".

John Marshall

DATE: January 1986

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