Sunday, July 01, 2012

New York City of the East, Singapore

(Okay, this is gonna be a rather long-winded post. It's been awhile since I've written anything so, I figured why not write a really long post here. Hehehe.)

Some of us decided to celebrate the end of our A-level by going on a trip to Singapore over the weekday. Me, Alia, Zehan, Niesh, Elaine, Megat, Hazman and Tank. Half of us had never been to Singapore while the other half couldn't remember the last time they were there. 

And the trip was surprisingly delightful albeit a little bit expensive. Even then we got the cheapest accommodation we could find so, we could spend a lot more on other stuff (i.e shopping!). The Singapore I knew 3 to 4 years ago has changed into a city that was almost unrecognizable, like it has shed its skin to become this whole new entity. And I love it!

The first day we were there, we walked for 9 hours; from Chinatown to Orchard Road to Marina Bay Sands to Little India. My favourite moment from the day has got to be the trip to the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands tower and saw Singapore and all its glitter from the top. I was overwhelmed by the sight and clearly Singapore is well on its way to become the New York City of the East, rivaling Hong Kong. Did I also mention how clean Chinatown was? It was spotless! Probably the cleanest Chinatown I had been to.

Our second day was just as exciting. Started the day off with a trip to Universal Studios Singapore. Undoubtedly, it isn't as big and as thrilling as the Universal Studios in California but it is still pretty impressive. We enjoyed the roller coaster rides (Battlestar Gallatica rides, Mummy ride etc) and had a good time being transported to different worlds every time we walked on different sections of the Park. We even managed to squeeze in some time for luge rides in Sentosa. Awesome gilaaa. As exhilarating as a go-kart race but safer and easier.

Dinner was at Clarke Quay and it's definitely one of my favourite places in Singapore. It's so beautiful at night, lovely to just walk by the river while you watch the colourful lights and boats cruise past you. Across the river where most eateries are, the place would be pumping with energy and loud music. Not the place if you're looking for quiet dinners but definitely the place to people-watch and just absorb in the atmosphere. Met up with Muzz who happened to be in the city with his sister and brother-in-law. Whom later treated us to supper at Marriott Hotel on Orchard Road. One of the loveliest couples I have known and every time we meet, they would be treating us to desserts and drinks. Too kind!

Before we caught our bus back home on the last day, we went over to Somerset to do some last minute shopping. It's crazy how every time we came out of an MRT, it was ALWAYS in a shopping mall. Just how many shopping malls do they have in this small city?! Not that I've complaints especially when it's the Singapore Great Sale at the moment. And boyy, did we really shop there! :p

So, we ended our trip with hugs and 'See You Laters' once we reached back home. Travelling is nice but it's always nicer to travel with your friends and I couldn't have asked for better travelling mates. 

And Singapore, I have fallen in love with it all over again. I tweeted a few days ago, "If I were to become comfortably rich one day, the two cities that I'd love to live in would be New York City and Singapore." I think you could enjoy Singapore a lot more if you were rich and not students travelling on tight budgets ;) 

Ohh, I must tell you this interesting chat I had with a cab driver on our way back to our hostel from Marriott! 

Cab driver: Hello! Where are you from?

Me: Malaysia.

Cab driver: Selamat datang! Want to start Bersih here?

Me: Hahaha. No, thanks. I wouldn't want to be jailed in Singapore. But what do you think about Bersih?

Cab driver: Well, it's probably not right for me to comment since I'm not Malaysian. But what Malaysia  really needs is a revamp. A due diligent process. Microsoft Word has Windows 7 but BN is still running on Windows 95. 

Me: Yes, unfortunately we are not as systematic as you are. And our government needs revamping, no doubt. But how's Singapore? Despite all its advancements and impressive growth, I know a lot of Singaporeans remain unhappy in this country. 

Cab driver: Yes, but no country is perfect. You know how those famous civilisations like Roman and Ottoman Empires collapse? It's when the leaders became laid back and practiced corruption. That is what is happening to BN. 

Me: And what about PAP? The party is not all that clean, is it? Hsien Loong is known to be practicing cronyism and nepotism himself.

Cab driver: No no no. Hsien Loong and his family is VERY CLEAN. Very clean wan. His family all has regular jobs as engineers, CEOs, doctors. (At this point of time, I silently went "Yeaaahh right.")
All our MPs have degrees and Masters from top universities; Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, MIT. We make sure they have their own careers first before entering politics. Serve two to three terms then they are free to go back to their careers. Like in Malaysia, not many MPs like that hah? See Najib, he's only from Nottingham. Oxford, Cambridge and all do not guarantee they produce the smartest people but they definitely do not produce idiots. 

Me: Well, there is increasingly more highly educated people entering politics. There are Khairy Jamaluddin and Tony Pua who went to Oxford...

Cab driver: Yah, but Khairy is not given any important posts what. He'll be gone next election la.

Me: Haha perhaps. But I wouldn't write him off completely. Give it some more time. There will be more educated, intelligent Malaysians leading the country. As it is, we are entering a changing phase where more young people are brave to voice out their opinions and want what's best for the country. Who knows, the three of us (there were me, Niesh and Megat in the cab) could be some of those future leaders. Haha.

Cab driver: Yah, yah. Good luck ah! Hopefully Malaysia can become better.

Yes, it's no secret that taxi drivers, even in Malaysia could be one of the best political commentators around. This Singaporean taxi driver was no exception. There is a lot that Malaysia could learn from Singapore. They only really started their development 20 years ago and within that 20 years; they have been transformed from a country with very little resources to a prominent leader of the ASEAN region. 

Where do we stand at this present time? 

With Niesh at Clarke Quay. Pretty innit? 

5th Avenue, New York! Or rather Universal Studios Singapore

 Bumped into Charlie Chaplin. After the photo, Mr Chaplin literally took Alia by the hand and ran away with her! Looks like Alia found herself a new suitor ;)

 In front of ION Orchard

Doing the Gossip Girl pose (kononnya) on the steps of the New York Library

Marina Bay Sands. I like this view better than the Hong Kong's skyline. It's more serene and calm here.

Orchard Road

Group shot with Transformers character (sorry, not sure which one!)

Dinner at Clarke Quay. The waiter accidentally said, "We got Halal pork." when he actually wanted to say "Halal Pepperoni". Haha.

With the girls on the 57th floor of Marina Bay Sands

With Ibu's friends, Natalie and Karl. They were the ones who brought us to the top of the Tower.