SMART Seminar: Singapore: Pre-Seminar Vol 1

Entering Singapore was a bit like what you’ve seen in one of those old black and white spy movies…

Check points manned by armed Singaporeans, luggage and transportation searches conducted under the suspiscious eyes of the local government and one of our party barely escaping a make shift prosecution and potential time in a piss smelling holding cell.

OK, maybe I got caught up in the movie nostalgia – but we did have one of our very own cause quite the fuss at our entry point into Singapore.

Let’s just say that if you decide to bring in 4 cartons of non-Singaporean cigerettes and then decide accidentally to NOT claim them as you enter a place that very publicly displays it’s huge complex against smuggling of unauthorized items into their lovely country…

Well you just better bring a large amount of cash to cover your fines when you get caught.

AND  if you encourage all of this scrutiny it just to happens to be pretty bad luck to have previously lost your wallet on the journey out of Malaysia.

Luckily our British friend had an incredibly gracious host in Stuart Tan and was, through Stuart’s monetary contribution, saved the alternative option to paying his fine.

We weren’t exactly sure if these options would have included a complimentary stay in one of Singapore’s most accomodating jail cells, a public flogging in the center of town or the added bonus of a complete cavity search.

Either way, Stuart saved the day.

After this Marvel-ous rescue we headed towards the glistening city of Singapore.

At first the landscape appeared just as familiar as any American city.  But as our private coach brought us closer, our eyes were filled with the wonders of Asian architecture.

The skyscrapers still rose the familiar story upon story towards the sky,
but the angles and slightly different hues definitely
let us know that we weren’t in Kansas anymore.

Instead of plain grey concrete and beige colors splashed on each buiding, we were treated with a palatte of silver, rose, light blue – as well as the beautiful pop of color of red clay roofs that adorned some of the smaller buildings.

Every so often an ornamental temple of red and gold would arise from the midst of the stately buildings.

The ever attentive, although slightly eroded, statues on each corner glaringly watched our meanderings through their city.

There were many ports adorning the calm shore line.

Miles of red and blue freight containers were stacked as high as many of the surrounding skyscrapers, each containing foreign lettering just to ensure that we remembered we were in a strange land.

As I looked out over the water I could swear that I had just
spied a stadium on the waters edge.

The seats were gathered in groups of bright yellow, blue and red – similiar to any college football stadium you might find stateside.

But the patrons were positioned to peer directly out onto the bay to view what sport?

Oh – there it is!  A soccer field floating on the bay.  It appeared to have been built on a dock type structure extending the entire field out onto the water.  The bright green turf shown brightly against the active mucky waters of the bay.

It was very strange indeed to see a floating soccer field amidst all of these freighter ports and skyscrapers!

Another obvious reminder of the subtle differences in our great cities.

Soon we arrived at Changi Meridien Hotel, our home away from home for the next week.

All of the SMART seminar speakers unpacked and freshened up in preparation for dinner.  The group consensus was to dine at one of the open air restaurants that lined Changi Drive.

I understood immediately by the vivid banners of food at each store front, that we would be dining on primarily local fare.

I will admit that I was a little nervous at this proposal –
especially after the spicey few days we had just enjoyed in Malaysia.

Our host ordered our meal, a la family style, and I held my breathe as it began to arrive at the table.

The first dish was served.  It was chicken, but – it didnt’ have that too familiar orange tint of curry!

The second dish appeared to be kelp.  But wait…no intense aroma of chili?   Dare I hope for a moderate spice palate in this country?

Is that sweet and sour Pork?  They have pork in singapore?  Yes!  Yes!  And the pork was in a traditional sweet and sour sauce – no chili here, baby!

As I enjoyed these delectible dishes along with grilled sea bass (yes, with its head still attached), I was one happy camper.

We had our fill and then started to wandered as a group back to the hotel, waddling slightly from our non-Malaysia fill at the local food joint.

Tonight we needed rest – for tomorrow would be a day filled with touristy adventures.

I look forward to sharing the next few days of adventure with you.