Singapore: the new Hong Kong

Merlion, patron of Singapore Merlion, patron of Singapore I was on a business trip to Singapore last week. It was all about getting familiar with a new content management system that I will have to work with in the future. As it is rolled out globally, my colleague and me joined the APAC-countries during their training. The departure was on Saturday at 10pm with a scheduled arrival on Sunday 7pm local time. That gave me enough time to relax and explore the city at least a bit as the workshop would cover all of Monday and Tuesday. It was my first long distance flight but I fared quite well. The Airbus A380 is one pretty quiet plane. After a while, you do not even notice anymore that you are up high in the sky.

When I arrived, I was greeted by incredibly hot, humid air (32 degress, 88% humidity). The trip to the hotel by cab was a smooth ride but before, I had to learn that Singapore is a country where queueing is very popular. I am not sure how much time I spent waiting but it was a lot. The hotel was brilliant. I myself would never pick that kind of hotel simply because of the costs. They even supply their guests with free to use smartphones which prevent you from paying high roaming fares. In the evening, I took the oportunity to see the area around Marina Bay Sands which is the iconic hotel that looks like a cruise-liner on three gigantic posts. I also got to see the Merlion fountain (Mermaid + Lion) which is Singapore’s patron. I arrived back at the hotel sometime between 10:30pm and 11pm. There were no doubts that I would catch a cold as the hotel, public transportation, and most shops are air-conditioned to an unhealthy degree. However, to date, I am fine.

The breakfast was very opulent. Again, you had to queue and wait until you were walked to an empty table. Afterwards, I went to the office. The preferred transportation in Singapore seems to be cabs. That is how I travelled between the hotel and the office anyways. It is not as easy as it sounds though. I still do not quite understand when they actually take you and when they turn you down… At 8:30am, the workshop began. Another lesson learned on the way to the office is that you may well travel completely naked but NEVER EVER without your passport. Without it, you cannot enter most offices. They accepted my German ID card but very reluctantly. During the workshop, I got to meet many lovely people from all around the globe, also a number of European colleagues. I was told that Singapore is now what Hong Kong used to be before it was given back to China. Many companies obviously moved their offices to Singapore as a result. In the evening, all participants of the workshop were invited to an Asian restaurant (shame on me but I cannot say which cuisine the restaurant represented). Also, not to make a fool of myself, I had to ask for proper cutlery. Chopsticks and me = enemies. It would have been a risky business for everyone around me anyways.

Back at the hotel, I immediately went to bed although jetlag did not hit me as bad as most other people. On the second day, I took the chance to visit Sentosa island. It is a Disneyland kind of park with a Hard Rock Café, Universal Studios, a large aquarium, and other attractions. However, I had no intention to enter any of these and by the time I arrived there, most of them were closed anyways. I did have dinner at Hard Rock Café though. It seems that musically, Singapore is stuck in the late 90s. Backstreet Boys, Westlife, Boyzone, Britney Spears, Bon Jovi’s ballads – that is what they would play nearly everywhere.

While most of the other folks flew back home on that night already, I also had Wednesday morning in Singapore. I walked around in the area around the hotel for a bit and took some pictures of the vegetation. I had not had the opportunity to see much of the city during daytime as the sun would usually go down by the time the workshop ended.

The flight back was equally smooth though I have to say that the Boeing 777 is much noisier. Since we were only 54 passengers, there was plenty of space for each and one of us. We crossed the Indian Ocean, flew over Afghanistan, came by Iraq,  and passed Aral Sea. I thought a lot about these areas: the plastic pollution of the sea, the wars, the fact that Aral Sea now nearly fully dried up and is basically non-existent anymore, and the burning woods in Indonesia which is just a stone’s throw away from Singapore. Oh, and El Nino just destroyed large parts of the coral reefs world wide – especially in Australia. They may bounce back but only if they get enough time and it seems that extreme weather phenomena occur much more often these days. When you look at the Earth from above, it looks so peaceful… Unfortunately, it is not and the American election is certainly not going to make things any easier. It’s saddening.

Upon arrival in Germany, it was snowing. I rushed back to bed and tried to absorb all the impressions of the last few days. Apart from the business related things, I came accross many more issues – negative, funny, and strange. It was a nice trip to Singapore and the tropics. I met many lovely people and got to escape the cold here in Germany for a few days. 🙂 Now I am back to normal. Or does normal not exist?