Photos: So how do I find Singapore so far?

Having spent most of my recent six year in Buffalo, I return to Singapore to teach for a few months, as well as to change my pace of life. Here’s a little monologue of my transition so far…

Before leaving for the Buffalo airport, I took some pictures of my Triads apartment as a way of documenting where everything is. This is just in case I require a friend to send me anything I might have left behind. If needed, I’d simply annotate one of the photos and email it to my housemate, Aaron.

Always trying to save on flights, I ended up with numerous connections and thus never had good experience flying back home. Flight delays, lost baggages and sleeping at the airports were commonplace. This time it was different though, as I managed to grab a non-stop 18hr flight from Newark to Singapore. Singapore Airlines flight SQ 21 cut me through all the chase for as little as US$1700+. From this series of photos, you’ll see the 2-3-2 seat configuration in the executive economy class (there’s no economy on this flight!), gourmet dinner, nice leather seats with flexible leg and head rests, just under a hundred movies on demand, and the snack bar at the back of the plane. Incidentally, I started a subversive multiplayer game of Pong in their gaming system but no one joined in… see what I called it.

After landing in Singapore, the next few days consisted of me doing my usual walkabout and trying to reacquaint myself with my new environment. I’d spend most of my time with my mum, following her as she shopped and learning how private sales are all the rage today. Judging from the hungry mobs at Isetan, I didn’t think the sale was that private really… more like an “exclusive” ruse. You’ll see modern society at it’s worse; it’s everyone for themselves as if there weren’t enough luxuries to go around.

The never ending cycle of materialism, with Singapore’s ridiculous abundance of high-end fodder and massive emporiums to keep even the rabid of minds at bay. Perhaps these guys were trying to tell us something: Axel Rose had albums which went like Use Your Illusion, while Neil Postman had a book entitled Amusing Ourselves to Death. The more you buy, the more you save… or is it? Such short term goals will likely lead to the long term destruction of the society. Perhaps it’s time for the good to take back this land. If only there’s a way to get enough of us to pledge our allegiance to civility, and to serve as a good measure for others to follow. Bah humbug!

Other points of interest during my walkabout:
• A corner shop at Lucky Plaza was selling the Go Motorboard which I received for a review earlier. I wonder if permits are required to ride this locally, otherwise I would have brought mine back as an environmentally friendly means of transportation. I don’t think people know enough about this to want one. My mum wondered why it’s so expensive and I said it wasn’t a toy… at first glance, you won’t even realize that there are decent motors hidden under the board. It’s that slick.

Crocs took a while to be hip in Singapore, but eventually made it and has stuck with locals ever since. Since it’s cast-molded, it’s easy to mass produce, yet at S$50+, it’s definitely a brand name people are buying into.

• I was wondering if I could fashion this for use in Second Life, when an idiotic salesman nearly took my eye out flying this in the toy department…

Got on the free islandwide wifi called “Wireless @ SG” and loved it. It’s not as widespread as I thought so you’ll still need to find a decent spot to plonk yourself down. Still, free is good.

• Since I last returned to Singapore, there’s been a real surge in the number of portable gaming devices kids carry nowadays. Everywhere I go, I’d see 4 out of 5 kids (and some working ladies) with a Sony PSP, while Nintendo DSes (and even Gameboys) trailing closely behind. At a gaming shop in Funan IT center, I saw an equal number of purchases made between the competing portable consoles. Most buyers opted for the package where the sales person would apply a screen protector for them. With all the mobile devices Singaporeans carry nowadays (e.g. cellphones, pdas), protective accessory makers are really making a killing.

• Getting my watches fixed here is so much better than in the States. For S$6, the local watch repairman not only knows how to disassemble an unfamiliar watch, but gives you a better battery to boot. I’ve had watches mangled by dumb American watch shop owners, simply because they don’t know how to open them, but think they do.

• In Singapore, it’s “green tea” added to everything… including Pretzels!

• There was one in Toronto, and now a copycat in Singapore? I’m talking about the Cosplay Cafe I spotted at Chimes. It’s funny, but if you think about it, it’s the Asian equivalent of America’s Hooters. Sex, even fetish ones, still sells.

• Missing my stop as I fell asleep on bus No. 7 turned out to be the most serendipitous thing I’ve done in a while. I ended up at some less traveled part of Clementi and while heading in the general direction of home, I discovered the Clementi Community Center (CC) buried between high-rised flats. As I sipped my “Teh-C Peng” (concentrated iced milk tea), I watched senior folks do their Tai-Chi, while younger ones getting their belts at Tae Kwan Do. You can also learn to cook all kinds of traditional dishes, and picked up new computer skills here. These CCs are so integral to creating active citizenry; perhaps they’ll come in useful in my line of research.

• By 10pm, I was really sleepy, probably due to residual jetlag. The walk home was lonely, yet calm and relaxing.

If you’re interested, check out the entire flickr photoset complete with captions.

5 thoughts on “Photos: So how do I find Singapore so far?

  1. Always interesting to read posts like this, i.e. viewpoint of someone who’s been out of the country. Things we take for granted, we see it from another’s perspective.

  2. Hey Kevin – my partner teaches at SIM from time to time, on the Sydney Uni program for Health Sciences (she’s a nurse academic). I came up with her in 2004 and spent a lovely week in S/pore and another one in Malaysia. Just loved it and would love to go back!

  3. Ivan: It won’t last… I tend to get bored fast. I’d watch for Singaporeans living abroad to share interesting views of home.

    Cockroach: Hopefully we can meet up sometime. I’d want to hear more about the SG EduLab project you started!

    M-H: SIM houses quite a number of overseas universities. Anyway, nice that you enjoyed Singapore and Malaysia. Stop by again if you can! 🙂

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