We have always intended to make the most of whatever came our way whilst we are out here and the Singapore GP seemed too good an opportunity to miss!
Nick was attending a conference in Singapore on Tuesday and Wednesday and wanted to look at housing developments over there: it seemed such a great opportunity to go over, at the weekend, go to the Grand Prix and spend Monday concentrated on housing.
I know I'm not the first to go to Singapore nor the first to sing its praises but you know how it is! YOU go somewhere and as it makes such an impact upon you, you do feel you are the first to recognise it!
The Grand Prix was such fun. I'm not a great F1 fan but I know enough to enjoy it and, of course, the atmosphere of a night race is fantastic. We stayed in the Marina Mandarin so we walked everywhere and thoroughly spoilt. Nick, unbeknown to him, got good seats in the Connaught stand with a huge screen just to our left so we could watch the race and then, for the split second, as they tore past us, sparks flying and into the corner and away down to the Marina. Shame Hamilton was given a nudge and therefore out of the race but that's me writing as a F1 novice! This is the view to our right from our seats in the Connaught stand as the ghostly shadows of Alonso and Vettel came past on their lap of honour - it is them, truly! I don;t have the camera to take such action shots and anyway who wants a camera stuck to their face when they should be watching the real, live "thing"!
The architecture in S'pore is extraordinary and anyone who hasn't been in the last two years, will see changes in the skyline, especially the Sands complex at the mouth of the marina and, as a Singaporean couple we met said, that this has all happened in 30 years and before that the city would resemble Vietnam as it is now.
The Singapore River frontage in Boat and Clarke Quays has been developed and are lively, entertaining places day and night - it, of course, wasn't always so and until Singapore had an efficient sewage system, it sounds as though you wouldn't have hovered long by it. The squatters were rehoused in a huge building programme, street hawkers given licences, sewage system built and a general order established. We were told that Singapore has no natural water supply so has an agreement with Malayasia that expires in 2051. Thus the plan is to built a dam across the river, by the marina, and as the water is now so clean, this will provide a reservoir of drinking water for the city.
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On Monday, after the F1, we travelled on the MRT to outlying residential areas to look at developments as part of Nick's work and I took the photos. I know these aren't really part of a blog but Travellerspoint gave me a quick and easy way of uploading the images for his colleagues in the UK and Vietnam. Added to this, the photos and videos of Clarke and Boat Quays show what a vibrant and developed area they are. Singapore is very photogenic - look at the architecture and amazing skyline and it is hard to resist "just one more photo". I have truly tried to cut down the number I've uploaded here.......
Take a look too at the videos I've uploaded under my other Singapore blog entry which is really my homework from the trip!
I walked miles - how else to see anywhere? Sights, smells, sounds and also so different to Hanoi especially! Also used the MRT: London Underground could learn alot from the cleanliness although their map was reassuringly familiar! Can anyone tell me all the words to the jingle as the train is approaching ; "The train is coming, the train is coming...." and then we couldn't quite work out the rest but think it was about getting in the right queue to get on board.
And shopping? Well, of course I had to investigate Orchard Road. We were staying near the marina so walked through the Marina Bay mall and A N Other One to get to City Hall MRT so got to know those without buying too much but Orchard Road is something else. I'm not a great shopper - I get bored, can't see the point of wandering for hours but I was intrigued by so many malls and what the differences were. ION is the newest and very smart: I've uploaded some photos of the main atrium with the black and gold escalators and an external view showing the undulating roof. Others are a mix of ages and range of shops meeting a certain price/quality criteria. Joys of joys was the bookshop in Kinokuniya, said to be the biggest in SE Asia. The book club girls at home had emailed the title of the next book, saying it was out of print but secondhand copies available from Amazon - did I want a copy sent out. In I stroll in Singapore and there are 6 copies - all different publishers and prices - and out I wander with my Doctorow book (and a couple of other books to keep me going til Christmas!).
Nick and I will return as we didn't get to all four corners nor explore south of the River. We didn't change all our Singapore $ into US$ so we shall [b
to go back... Fab city but nice to get back home to Hanoi. Truly.