I’m Back…

Well, not back in H-town, but that’ll come soon enough (right around New Year, I believe). Just back to blogging. For those of you who enjoy this, you’re welcome. Else, sorry for clogging up your RSS feed.
So I just got back into Beijing today at 6 in the morning after a midnight flight from Singapore. After spending 5 days there (arrived morning of Christmas day), I think I’ve had enough of it. Great tourist place, but it was extremely rainy while we were there (not letting up until the last day), and I don’t think there’s 5 days worth of stuff to do. More like 4.
Don’t get me wrong. Singapore is a very nice place. Honestly, in a lot of ways, it feels a bit like a utopia. It’s very pretty there: just enough of everything. It’s very green, with trees and such everywhere, while still having a very modern feel, with lots of buildings and little wasted space. The buildings themselves have a mixed feel, with both preserved, older, historical buildings and many high-rises. For the most part, it lives up to its reputation for cleanliness, though I definitely saw cigarette butts, unhappy-looking hallways, and trash thrown out of sight. Even so, better than just about ‘newhere else I’ve seen. They had a big party in the streets on Christmas day, which, though a bit boring, managed to maintain very tame and of appropriate spirit.
Tourism goes nicely. There are some sights, but the real focus lies in the pocketbook and the stomach. Addressing the former, shopping is everywhere. Everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Unfortunately, if you don’t want ‘nething, that is mostly shot. I, for one, got nothing in Singapore. The two major points there are clothes and electronics, the former of which I care nothing for, and the latter of which I really don’t need. In the latter, the food was quite good. The local cuisine was nice, but not really revolutionary. Singapore takes very strong influences from its constituents (they repeated this about a billion times, but I don’t ‘member. Something like 75% Chinese, Another 20% of Indians and Malay, in some combination, then everyone else), and I’ve gotten my fill of Chinese food, and I really don’t like Indian food that much. Regardless, I enjoyed it.
Back to utopia: the tour guides seem to emphasize the perks of life. The welfare systems seems decently done, so that everyone should get housing with some system of mandatory income payments to housing (with employer throw-in), and cars staying modern with 10-year certificates of use. They certainly painted a happy picture of life.
Which kind of scares me. The media and entertainment have always painted a picture that the perfect is absolutely terrible, perhaps epitomized by HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey”. I really haven’t looked into the issues that Singapore has, but apparently their media has had problems with free speech. There’s one thing that high government intervention will do.
Oh, and if you ever go to Singapore, don’t take a day to go to Sentosa island, unless you’re staying there as your resort. It was a total bust for our family. And not just because of the rain.

One reply on “I’m Back…”

I like Singapore, but it really has the atmosphere of a small town. You can’t depend on professional entertainment or tours like you get in big cities (like New York, L.A., Toronto), so I would assume that residents would make their own entertainment.

I have to say that most boring businessman I’ve ever met is a venture capitalist from Singapore that I sat next to (at a dinner in San Francisco). All he did was work … and run, to stay in shape for his military service. He had absolutely nothing else interesting to say. Nothing.

I’ve actually been to Sentosa, which must have been more bearable because I was on a bicycle (with my friend Pierre). It makes the long distances walking quite bearable. I remember the animal act: family entertainment. In the western world, it’s actually a pretty big challenge to find entertainment that a family can share. Disneyland is probably the best that they can do in the U.S. Otherwise, we end up touring a lot of museums and galleries.

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