Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Singapore long weekend

Just came back from a few days down in sweaty humid Singapore, my first time in the country. Matt has managed to reap up enough air miles since starting work in November to get a return ticket for me. Singapore was what i pretty much expected: clean, orderly, filled with an incredible variety of shopping malls (including Asia's biggest bookstore) and restaurants galore! Shopping and eating have got to be the top two national pasttimes of Singaporeans, and they are extremely good at them.

I did a whole variety of things in 4 days: sipping thick mango lassis in Little India, biking the length of East Coast Beach (see pic), dining on tasty meen goreng and other local Peranakan dishes, walking around Clarke Quay's bustling harbourfront, cycling Singapore's last rural island Pulau Ubin and while searching for the German Girl Shrine being turned back by suspicious-looking policemen, meeting Matt's friend and his friendly wife for tasty otak otak, visiting the Asian Civilization Museum and taking literally 5 minutes (feels much longer when you have to pee) to go down three floors on the hydraulic elevator, watching the England-Ireland rugby match at an Irish pub in the wee hours of the morning, and finally, sampling the local delicacy DURIAN and although the smell is somewhat tolerable, the taste can be described like "an old dog burping in your face." Nuff said.

The hotel we stayed at, the SHA Villa, was a beautiful white colonial mansion, run by the Singapore Hotel Association tourism training college, where the staff are all keen hospitality students waiting on every guests' needs. I suppose it wasn't so long ago that i too was a hormonal student with excess energy all day everyday, where responsibilities didn't go much further than attending the minimal amount of classes per week possible and trying not to forget calling home at least once a week, so long as the budget allowed. So it was rather cute seeing these spotty students dressed in their pressed suits and vests serving you coffee with shaky hands and a flair of uncertainty. They are doing a superb job though.

The pace of life is definitely more to my liking than it is in Hong Kong. People seemed a lot more relaxed, casually strolling down the streets instead of the relentless power walking competitions you witness in Wanchai or Central. Even the kids there appear happy and to be enjoying life, a stark difference to the students of HK who are like walking zombies carting around huge heavy backpacks to and from school. I attribute the difference to the climate. While Singapore may be hot and humid all year round, the air is cleaner and at least you can see the sun shining against a clear blue sky on most days. You'd be lucky to see the sun in Hong Kong the pollution is so bad. Still, a few days was enough for me and i was glad to board that plane again.

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