A while back, I took my first trip to Singapore for business. I've been meaning to write about the experience, but I've been rather busy since my return. But I did take a number of colorful photos, so I'll talk a little about the trip and share a few of the photos.
First, here is how we got there. We flew the biggest bird in the air today, the Airbus 380. Here is what it looked like:
Inside, the legroom was about the same in the coach section as I'm accustomed to, but there are power outlets at very seat, a wireless Local Area Network (not quite activated yet) and an extensive list of video and audio entertainment options. So, the plane was well appointed, but after 12 hours, I was delighted to get out and walk on terra firma again.
As we drove into the city, we passed a number of older areas that featured small shops, visually reminiscent of the Chinatowns I've seen in various cities. But as we got closer to the city center, I saw much more modern architecture. We stayed at a modern hotel which featured a restaurant with an excellent western style breakfast buffet and had a large rooftop swimming pool. About one hour after arrival, I was swimming in pool and enjoying the comfortable temperatures (about 75 degrees F in the late morning).
Later, a group of us walked over to Orchard Street, which is one of the main shopping areas in downtown Singapore. At street level, there were gift shops, men's tailors for shirts and suits, and many other types of storefronts. A few among our group bought gifts to bring back home and we took many photographs. Here is an example of what we saw:
On this same street, we walked past the presidential palace, where military personnel screened every car entering into a gated compound. The grounds had gardens in full bloom, offering a counterpoint to the extensive concrete plazas in front of nearby shopping malls. By now, the humidity had kicked in, so I broke a sweat even when walking in shaded areas.
That evening, a few of my local colleagues took me out to a seafood restaurant on the waterfront. We began the dinner with a round of drinks and I made my first acquaintance with the local draft beer Tiger. The specialty of the restaurant was local seafood, including the well-known pepper crabs. These were messy to eat, since the claws were covered with a sticky, and spicy hot batter. I found myself drinking lots of beer and water both to put out the fire from the spicy food and to fight the effects of dehydration from the long flights. By the end of the evening, my jaw was dropping from lack of sleep. I had no trouble dropping off into a deep sleep shortly after I got back to the hotel that night.
I felt much better the next day after sleeping about 10 hours and once again enjoyed the extensive breakfast. I took advantage of nice touches like fresh squeezed orange juice and smoked salmon, along with a wide range of fresh fruits including more exotic types like mangos and papayas. And of course, plenty of coffee. We had choices of lattes, capuccino or strong coffee -- I seem to remember having both a coffee and latte on this particular morning.
We had a full day of meetings, but our reward was a boat excursion on the harborfront that evening. We went past a fountain showing off the lion which is the symbol of Singapore and then continued on through a series of inland waterways.
We also got to see Singapore's massive work in progress, a very futuristic casino whose progress has been slowed by the world's recently weak economy.
The boat eventually deposited us at Clarke Quay.
We set off on foot and snaked through the crowds enroute to our destination for the evening, a Balinese restaurant. Our large group sat down as a series of long tables. After ordering drinks -- with a choice of beers and wine -- the dishes began to arrive. The food was served family style. Large platters included delicacies like large prawns, soups, local greens and much, much more. Soon I was full, but the food kept on coming, one tasty dish after another. At one point, a few of us stepped outside and delighted in the supple movements of a very talented belly dancer.
After dinner, the urge to walk off a few calories attracted me, so I joined a group that took a walk back to the hotel.
We got turned around a couple of times, but after 20 minutes we were back in the Orchard Street area where the hotel is. Our group settled in for a couple more beers, then I called it a night. I'll write more about the trip and include one more picture on my next post.