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Old 10-28-2005, 05:05 AM   #1
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So, I have been over in Asia for the last two weeks. I didn't bother with departing notice, because frankly, I have been over here so much lately that it sounds like a broken record.

Anyway, I have been in Singapore for a week now. I realize it is not high on the backpacker's list, but thought it would be worth a few observations anyway as I know some people do wind up here from time to time.

Singapore is probably the most well organized Asian country I have ever been to. The city itself is very clean, traffic isn't too bad and there are trees and plants everywhere...it's not nicknamed 'The Garden City' for nothing. There is a very good train system and taxis are reasonably cheap. A twenty five minute taxito the airport from downtown runs about $13 Sing or $8 USD. A 10 minute taxi ride around town might be only $4 or $5 Sing. That is good because everything else if f-ing expensive!! Drinking in Singapore is very, very pricey - alcohol is heavily taxed by the government. So far, the pubs I have been to charge an average of $12 to $15 Sing per beer. That's $7 to $9 USD per beer. WOW. Food can be found fairly cheaply if you look around, though. There is an Asian food court in the mall next to my hotel and you can get a nice, fresh cooked asian style lunch (spicy korean chicken and rice for example)for about $5 Sing or $3 USD. It's not Thailand cheap but its not bad. As I am staying in a semi-posh hotel paid for by my Company, I cannot comment on the hostel situation...but if they are like the rest of the country they are probably exceedingly well run and absolutely spotless.

There are three main nightlife areas here: Boat Quay (pronounced 'key'), Clark Quay and Mohammed Sultan Rd. There are many other pubs/clubs outside these areas as well - but these are places where there is a fair density of places to check out. The two Quays are right on the Singapore river and you can sit outside and have drinks or dinner overlooking the river with the lit-up skyline of Singapore all laid out across the river - quite beautiful. So far, I have only checked out Boat Quay and Clark Quay. Boat Quay has far more pubs and clubs. I went there Tuesday night and so it was a little quiet. They have some English and Irish style pubs, discos, various Karaoke establishments, you name it. I just had a quick pub meal and a few beers in a couple of pubs (Harry's Bar and the Pennyblack). Real imperial pints set me back almost $15 Sing with small tip.

It is also an interesting occurrence where it is quite common that if you are a westerner in a pub, you will get chatted up by a lot of local girls, and unlike Thailand, they are not pros. Can't say I mind that - in the States the guy usually has to do all the work. There are quite a few stunning women here...all different ethnicities, Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Javanese. All I can say is WOW and quite friendly as well! I suppose it is because A.) people like something different than what they see their whole lives and B.) because westerners are generally perceived to be much more well off than locals, which is probably true as most westerners in Singapore are expats here for work and who have a very nice expat salary package. Anyway...I don't care the reasons...I can still enjoy the phenomenon! BTW...there are more westerners here than I have ever seen in any Asian country...they are everywhere....like the plague....

Singaporeans in general are rather well educated, speak English quite well, are very polite, friendly, etc. Singapore is exceedingly safe. This brings me to the following comments/observations. Singapore is quite a restrictive society...no gum chewing, for example (even though I tempt fate and continue to chew my Dentyne Ice with blatant disregard for the law....I am such a wild man afterall ). In the newspaper yesterday was the story of a guy who is due to be hanged this week for trying to smuggle in 2 KG of pot! Yeesh! The immigratin card you get says 'Death to Drug Dealers' on the back! Any criminal story you read about, when they talk of punishments always reference how many lashes of 'The Cane' a person got in addition to jail time. Seeing all this, it kind of creeps me out that all the people here are so docile, polite, never break rules because the government is so controlling and uses corporal punishment to such a degree. It is not a democratic government here, yet they treat the country fairly well for all that, with the exception of so many restrictive laws and civil controls and very harsh penalties for drug dealers. It just seems to me that underneath this facade of perfect order, organization, and general civil obedience and perfection, the government seems to be lurking just under the surface to nail you if you slip even one inch out of line. For all that, there seems to be a fairly permissive amount of freedom to speak out about things...but I do not know how much that is just a perception actually managed by the government and in fact the reality may be quite different. All in all, its an interesting country to observe, especially to contrast it to other Asian countries like Thailand and China that are so much more chaotic and wild-west like. However, as there are no real sites of historical or cultural value to check out, it is certainly not worth a whole holiday - but a couple of days stopover if you get the chance is worth it to check out the city.
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Old 10-28-2005, 12:08 PM   #2
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Nice report!!

A friend of mine recently spent a week there and absolutely loved it, but was kind of taken aback by how unrealistically clean the place is. Hah!

I have to say, every single person I've met from Singapore has been so damn nice and polite - I almost forget sometimes that polite society does exist. Don't think I'd fit in there, I'm afraid...
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Old 10-28-2005, 01:49 PM   #3
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Great report Jamie
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Old 10-28-2005, 02:01 PM   #4
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Hey Jamie what do you do for a living?

And why so often in asia?
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Old 10-28-2005, 02:12 PM   #5
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Wow. I think I'd actually really like to go there... then again I'd love to go TONS of places!
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Old 10-28-2005, 02:36 PM   #6
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Sounds Awesome Jamie. Thanks for the report. A hanging for pot?? Keep on keeping on.
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Old 10-28-2005, 02:56 PM   #7
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whatever! why can't i have your job! you are so lucky!
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Old 10-28-2005, 02:59 PM   #8
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Joanie, they'd hang you in Singapore the moment they smelled ya!
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Old 10-28-2005, 03:24 PM   #9
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hey, but i don't smoke when i'm in asia! i'd never disrespect my peeps like that - HO!
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Old 10-28-2005, 04:48 PM   #10
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Wow, awesome!

Thank you for the report.

I am looking forward to my 2 days there in January and appreciate any and all reports!
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Old 10-29-2005, 02:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Hey Jamie what do you do for a living?

And why so often in asia?
I head up the finance/bean-counting department for my company (a mid-size manufacturer) and we have operations around the world. Right now we are putting in a new global software system to manage finance, manufacturing, distribution, etc. I am on the global implementation team and we have been working on the Asia roll-out since the beginning of this year. This means frequent trips to Asia to keep the project on track. The biggest piece of the project is our factory in China - its our largest factory and also has the least experienced local management team and so needs a lot of help.

Having spent so much time over here this year I have really developed a love for the region. I am trying to finagle a year or two assignment over here. We shall see. I have loved the travel and consider myself very, very lucky! Plus, I have been in the habit of taking my vacations over here as well which is an added bonus.

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Old 10-29-2005, 02:17 AM   #12
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Great comments LFoD, right on the money! Singapore has some of the most stylish, elite and expensive restaurants and clubs in South East Asia. As you said it all comes at a high price but! Unfortunately I hardly touched a drop of booze because of the prohibitive costs.

I think that Singapore is a good place for a few days and the ease of transit and cleanliness is a nice change if you have been travelling in SE Asia for a while. Overall I think it is a bit too organised and prefer the more randomness of cities such as KL.

ev
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Old 10-29-2005, 05:49 AM   #13
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A few random notes to add to my report:

1.) You know how in the movie 'Lost in Translation', Bill Murray's character was a formerly famous actor over in Japan to do a whiskey commercial? Well, its a bit of a Hollywood dirty secret that most of the A-list actors do in fact come to Asia to do TV commenrcials (which most would never do back in the U.S. as it would apparently hurt their reps). Anyway, in the paper today they had an article about how Jessica Alba just finished signing an agreement to be the spokesperson for Tiger Beer, which is the Singapore national beer (quite good BTW). I just thought it was really funny. I guess these Asian companies pay mucho bucks to the U.S. movie stars to get them to do these commercials, and they figure the U.S. audiences will mostly never know they do it. They actually parodied this phenomenon on 'Entourage' last season, if anyone watches that show (my guilty pleasure, I love that show).

2.) The former icon of the 80's ESPRIT is huge over here. It is so weird to me to walk down the main shopping road and see an ESPRIT store right next to the likes of Armani and DKNY. I expect to see Chic jeans next in line! I guess they have been succesful over in Asia for quite some time after pulling out of the U.S. years and years ago, though I guess they are trying to make a comeback in the U.S. now, so maybe they are around in some of the bigger cities and I just haven't noticed. Are they in Europe???? Big hair and leg warmers won't be far behind!

Anyway, I head back to China tomorrow night. I am bummed. I have enjoyed my time here a lot........China is definately a bit more frontier style!
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Old 10-30-2005, 07:17 AM   #14
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Great report!

Hmm...I'll have to remember that bit about hot Asian chicks chatting up Western guys in the bars...

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