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2015-05-09 23:30:48

My trip to Singapore

Hello everyone, how are you?

At the end of April and the first week of May, we have a week-long holiday, and it is a good season to travel abroad. I took days off in “Golden Week,” and my wife and I traveled to Singapore.

My businessman friend recommended staying at Marina Bay Sands because this hotel has everything, for example, a huge shopping center, restaurants, a casino and its famous roof-top swimming pool. http://www.marinabaysands.com/

There is only one hour difference between Japan and Singapore, so we took a red-eye flight to save time. ANA843 flight took off at Haneda International Airport at 11:30 pm. Soon after the takeoff, the cabin attendants served us Champaign and other alcoholic beverages with a variety of snacks. Within an hour, the alcohol kicked in, and I fell asleep. A couple hours later, the light turned on, and a meal was served with wine and sake.

We arrived at Changi Airport at 6:15 am, but it was still dark outside. I couldn’t see much, but the airport was huge. When we think of an airport in a tropical island, we imagine it might be rather small and built entirely for tourists. However, Changi Airport is large and clean, and it is crowded with many airplanes from different countries.

We took a taxi to the hotel. The highway to the bay area has 4 lanes on each side which is similar to that in LA, but it has no pot holes. Also, and roads are spic and span. We didn’t need to tip the driver, but I gave him some change.

Marina Bay Sands is extremely huge with more than 2000 rooms. The receptionist in charge of us was an Asian woman who spoke English with an accent. She explained the details of the facilities and said that she would call me when our room was ready.

There was still plenty of time before our check-in, so we went to the Gardens by the Bay, which is known as the most beautiful site in Singapore. It is ranked one of the top ten wonderful indoor gardens in the world. The indoor gardens were so chilly, and there were a variety of orchids there. I wondered how much it would cost to cool the building in this tropical country.

We walked across the bay bridge and went to one of the tourist spots, Singapore Flyer.
Singapore Flyer is a huge Ferris wheel with capsules for 28 passengers. We enjoyed a bird view of the city.

Everything in Singapore so far is gigantic, clean, and filled with modern technology. The room where we stayed was more than 100m2, and we enjoyed the corner view. A tiny Merlion statute and skyscrapers just across the bay could be seen from our room. I felt a bit unstable and restless when I look down at the bay area from the window. What would happen if a big earthquake hit this area?

We went to the club room to for our lunch. The club room greets each guest with breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails with a variety of snacks. When I was sipping a glass of Champaign, waitresses came by and refilled my glass with a smile. Waiters and waitresses there look happy working for the guests. They are quick in response, but we don’t need to pay tips for their service. It is quite a contrast with those people at the club lounge in the Ritz Carlton in NY where they expected us to give them tips each time we ordered something.

We went to The Shops at Marina Bay Sands, a huge shopping arcade with more than 300 boutiques, restaurants and a casino. It is much bigger than those at hotels in Las Vegas. I was amazed to see Sampan Ride which is similar to the gondola ride at the Venetian in Las Vegas. I wondered how this water is purified and where this water comes from to end up in this tiny island city. What would happen if people consumed an excess of electricity and water in this tiny island without any national resources? http://www.marinabaysands.com/shopping.html

The next day, we went to Universal Studios Singapore in Sentosa Island which is similar to the one in LA. We purchased the Express ticket to avoid waiting in line at the attractions. The express ticket was $70 which was more expensive than a one-day pass. There is a casino at the entrance of the Universal Studio. I guess Singapore is a country where the government officials rip off money from lucrative people and that the money might be used to maintain the quality of the paradise. http://www.rwsentosa.com/Homepage/Attractions/UniversalStudiosSingapore

We went to Singapore Zoo and River Safari, which is located next to each other in the northern part of the island. A lot of tourists are attracted to the place. We took a picture of a giant panda. The four lane freeways spread all over the country and the roads are all well maintained. I wonder who pays for the maintenance of infrastructure.

On our way back, we visited the National Museum of Singapore. It exhibits the history of Singapore. Singapore was occupied by the Japanese Army from 1942 to 1945. The Japanese army imposed harsh measures against the local population and mass executions claimed around 30,000 lives. The rest of the population suffered severe hardships throughout the years of Japanese occupation. The Malay and Indians were forced to build a railway, and most of them died while building it. I didn’t feel any hostility from people in Singapore including receptionists, waitresses and taxi drivers. Is it because we are tourist and spend much money in Singapore?

On the final day of our stay, we went to Little India and China town. I was amazed that a shopping center in Little India was jam-packed with so many items and open 24/7. Sales clerks were all Indian, and the items were much cheaper than any other store that I had visited in Singapore. I should have bought souvenirs here.

China town is crowded with Chinese and tourists. Chinese people were eating food at street venders, but I was skeptical about hygiene there. Numerous stalls on the street sold cheap items which may not be guaranteed for their quality. I guess Indians are trying to sell goods cheaper than any other place. Chinese can sell cheaper products of unknown origin. Would it be necessary for an average resident buy from these venders in order to cut back on their expenditures? What is their average standard of living?

On my way back home, I dropped in at a business lounge of Singapore Airline and began writing this essay of my trip to Singapore. The food at the lounge for business class travelers was excellent, but I saw a couple of elderly waitress who were cleaning the tables. Did I see the grayer side of Singapore where even old people have to bring home the bacon? Is it necessary for the Singapore government to attract foreigners to draw money from them to help this country flourish?

We enjoyed a wonderful time in Singapore, but I was a bit worried about the future of the city and people’s standard of living.


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1: elena

2015-05-11 14:44:59

It sounds like you had an wonderful journey. It is also amazing that you notice all the little details and wonder what is "behind the luxury." I guess, most people just assume that if the hotel is expensive, it must be safe and earthquake-proof, but is it really? I also wondered about similar things, when I was visiting China. Some skyscrapers there look really grand and state-of-the-art, but they were built so quickly that I cannot help doubting their durability against time. I do not think I would not want to live or work in one, being afraid of earthquakes.
I have not been to Singapore yet, but I really would like to go there one day. I heard that the food is very original, because it combines both Chinese and Indian flavours. All of my friends, who have stayed at the Marina Bay Sands say that no one swims in the famous pool. People just stand and take pictures there. I think it is hilarious, but I guess I would do exactly the same once I am there.
2: olfa

2015-05-12 10:07:22

That's a very nice essay, and I really enjoyed reading it. Singapore is still a really mysterious part of the world to me. It's creation, the people leaving there, the culture, how it is economically sustained? It sounds that the standard of living countries are very far from other South-East Asian countries, although it is right in the middle. Also you mentioned am Asian women with an accent, do people in Singapore speak English with an accent? Or was she a foreigner? Also I wonder, is there many foreigners from the West in Singapore?
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