Yesterday, for the Hari Raya holiday, the Istana (“palace” in Malay), the official residence of the President of the Republic of Singapore, was open to the public. Apparently, this happens just a few times a year.

I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside the residence, but here are a few shots of the grounds:

If I’d been allowed to take one picture inside the residence, I would have captured the function room where a number of gifts to the president – from various foreign dignitaries – were on display. What I noticed was that all the gifts from asia were stunningly beautiful – the best of all being a jewelled rug from India. The gifts from Europe, on the other hand, looked like things purchased at the airport gift shop at the last minute. There were no gifts on display at all from the US, and the one from Great Britain was the only one that was not man made. It was four great elephant tusks, no doubt killed under dubious circumstances or stolen from some tribal chieftan somewhere.

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