Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 4-5, 2011

FRIDAY, FEB. 4, 2011

On the Ground: We landed about 5:45 a.m. Singapore time. The 18-hour flight from Newark was actually quite "routine." The plane was quite empty (about 60 percent full), so the service was great. The driver was a bit stunned by the amount of luggage we had. (That's a post-flight Sandy at right with some of the luggage.) But we squeezed it into his Mercedes and flashed to the west, toward the city. We arrived at the Sail@Marina Bay. The sales manager, Gibson Ho, met us. By 7:15 a.m. we were in our apartment on the 44th floor of Tower 2 (on 6 Marina Boulevard). It’s quite a place, overlooking part of one of the great container-shipping depots in the world. A massive NYK Line (Nippon Yusen Kaisha) freighter lumbered away from the dock as we were settling in.

Three-of-a-Kind:With a craned neck we can see the three-towered Marina Bay Sands Casino, and it is, indeed, impressive. Also impressive is the utter LACK OF NEON on the building. It’s a very un-Vegas look. After Sandy rested a bit (trying to shed a cold she has had from way back in our U.S. days), we walked over to the casino area, attracted by the view of the three towers from the apartment (right). The shopping center takes upscale to some new heights. I was happy to see a Mont Blanc store, where I can reload on some ink. I was also happy to see a skating rink. Not sure if it can be properly called an “ice” skating rink. I saw no shavings scraped by blades from the surface.
We entered the hotel attached to the casino and bought tickets (S$20) to get up to the 57th floor. This brought us to the remarkable diving-board structure that sits atop the thre towers and cantilevers out over the lip of one. The view is spectacular. On the ocean-side we faced a wide panorama of shipping vessels at anchor. It looked like an invasion force. On the city-side we looked out over the marina and the staggering buildings of Singapore, stretching into the distance.

Are Cannonballs Allowed? One of the features on the top is a very long infinity pool, which appears to spill over into the bay far below (see photo at right). Quite a terrific sight. It’s only available for hotel guests, and they, of course, are subject to the gawking of the elevator riders, of which there were many. Some smaller pools are available for elevator riders to frolic in. One was filled by a tall man wearing only his underwear. The nearly-naked bather was beaming for a photograph, taken by a woman who was overdressed (with a veil). Together they balanced out quite nicely.
Sandy and I had a Coke Light and Tiger beer at the top. Three young-ish men sat with us, all working together to sell their company’s properties or shares in them (e.g., a room in a hotel in Germany, a spot on the shore in Spain) to the allegedly cash-flush Singaporeans. One (originally from Nutley N.J.) said he read that more than half of all Singaporeans have more than $1 million in liquid assets available to them, and are, therefore, perfect candidates for such international moving and shaking. If true, this puts the Millionaire Next Door concept to another level. Maybe the Millionaire Serving You Food or the Millionaire Busing Your Table or the Millionaire Sweeping Your Street? Worth looking into.

SATURDAY, FEB. 5, 2011

Just Lion Around: For breakfast, we found a place called Swiss Bake in the underground mall. Very tasty eggs and coffee. That revived us. Or maybe it was the non-stop Bee Gees playlist ("Stayin' Alive" etc.) wafting through the restaurant. After that, we began walking around the city, making use of the handy underground (and air conditioned) walkway that connects the Marina Bay Link Mall with the MRT's Raffles Station. It's the route Sandy will have to take to work.
After we emerged at Raffles, we walked up the river, crossed over Elgin Bridge and headed back toward the Asian Civilizations Museum. Many of the restaurants and stores were closed for Chinese New Year. There was activity at the front door of the museum. Drawn by some steady thrumming and drumming, we spotted some performers doing a lion dance for the new year.
Metric moment: Hopped on the elliptical on the 8th floor. It asked my weight. I punched in 195. The machine balked, telling me its upper limit was 160. I thought, “If I weighed that, I wouldn’t be on the elliptical. That makes no sense.” Then I noticed the “kg” next to the 160. A quick glance back at junior high school science classes reminded me that there are 2.2 pounds in each kilogram. Therefore, the upper limit for the machine was somewhat north of 350 pounds. I was safe. So I had to divide my 195 by 2.2 and punched in 90-something. The machine accepted me. I started pedaling.

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