In the 1970s, eastern Singapore still had a rural feel, its ribbons of middle-class suburbs interspersed with Malay kampongs (villages). Inevitably, the area hasn’t escaped the mushrooming of high-rise new towns, and much of the southeast coast has been radically altered by land reclamation to create the East Coast Park, a long strip of leisure and watersports facilities. For visitors, the points of interest mainly lie along or close to where the coast once was. Closest to downtown is the suburb of Geylang, which has retained some of its old Malay identity; neighbouring Katong likewise has traces of its historical Peranakan character. At the eastern end of the island, Changi is where the Japanese interned Allied troops and civilians during World War II, commemorated at the thought-provoking Changi Museum. The rustic Singapore of old clings on at Pulau Ubin, an island visitable by boat from Changi.

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