04 April 2011

Floating city....

Living on the 22nd floor, we are blessed with the most sensational view of the Straits of Singapore. Sprinkled with commercial vessels of every size, our scene is everchanging as vessels come and go each day. Where have they come from and where are they going is surely pondered on many an occasion.

Singapore's strategic geographical location has made it one of the busiest ports in the world. Can you fathom that this tiny island of 700 sq km holds the record of total shipping tonnage which in 2005 was recorded at approximately 1.15 billion gross tons. It has held this record for 25 years. According to Singapore's Maritime Authority (MAS), last year the port turned over approximately 150,000 vessels. This is a staggering number wouldn't you say? Every minute, 2-3 vessels are either arriving or leaving.

Emma Maersk, one of Denmark's biggest vessels, measuring in at 397m in length, made its maiden voyage to Singapore. This phenomenal vessel is capable of carrying 11,000 containers.

Historically the port has had to compete with neighbouring ports in the Strait of Malacca. By the 15th century and following the ascendance of the Malacca Sultanate, Singapore's international trade declined and by the 17th century it had ceased to exist. Sir Stamford Raffles the founder of Singapore city was a British statesman who was so impressed with the waters in Keppel Harbour that he re-established the port and international trading commenced once again.

The anchored vessels outside my window, whilst a feast on the eyes during the day, are aptly named by John a "floating city" at night. Lit across the Strait for several kilometres, the view never ceases as far as the eyes can see. And you wonder: what do they do at nights, how do they fill in their time as they wait to reach port, what stories can the captains and crews weave, what wild storms have they passed through. I do not for one moment romanticise the notion that it would be an adventure but they are curious questions.

Perhaps if my curiosity persists, I can book a passage on a cargo liner instead of a cruise liner. I can leave my evening wear and high heels at home, and pack cargo pants and t-shirts. Photography opportunities could be interesting but what would raise my interest would really just be the stories told. Maybe one day there'll be a blog about this...