Just a short distance south from the Raffles District lies Clifford Pier, a large marina just south of the Singapore River mouth. Tourists looking for an opportunity to get off the Singaporean mainland will find plenty options at Clifford Pier -- it is the marina from which many of the city's tour boats originate. I had the opportunity to take an afternoon cruise on such a boat, and for the price it was well worth it.
As one might expect, some of the tour boats are decorated in concert with Singapore's history. This boat was based on one owned by a former Chinese emporer or overlord of the Malay peninsula -- the brochures go into the detailed history far more than I will here.
This tour went out the Singapore Bay and followed southward towards Kusu Island, home of an ancient Chinese temple. The route took us past the commercial harbor, also seen in the tour of Sentosa. The outer harbor has over 100 ships docked. This photo shows one of these boats being tugged into the harbor to be unloaded. I found this operation very fascinating.
There are several other islands you will pass, and the tour guides were loaded with interesting stories about them.
Kusu Island itself is fairly small, and is dominated by the temple, shown here, and a large hill with a second temple. The island's theme is turtle-based, and there is a turtle pond near the temple. The island also has a large picnic area (along with small shelters in case the weather turns suddenly foul as it does on occasion).
As one might expect, the tour companies have day cruises and dinner cruises available, plus longer cruises to nearby Malaysia (passport required) and other islands. When you enter Clifford Pier, you will definitely find yourself approached by the tour companies, so beware! But don't worry, it is unlikely you will go wrong, and you'll get to see Singapore from a different perspective.
Trip taken 12-14 January 2002 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2002 Tom Galvin