Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Singapore: Day 1 of 2

Singapore is an interesting comparision to the other countries and cities that we've been to in the last two months.  Starting in San Diego, I've felt like we've crept our way down the development-level scale until getting to Ho Chi Minh, the least developed place I've ever been.  (Which doesn't say much for my world experience...)

I'm awkwardly excited to be in Singapore.
We're still not sure if I should have
gotten caned for doing this...
Singapore was named the wealthiest country in the world this year, and it shows!  Take the Bellagio and Mandalay Bay out of Las Vegas and cover an island with that level of extravagance, and you've got yourself the city of Singapore.

We learned during our pre-port meeting that they have some very strict laws, like no chewing gum, spitting or jay-walking, which are punishable by caning.  We also learned that if you're caught with drugs, it's punishable by death via hanging.  You know...any given day in Singapore.

The city is ridiculously clean and crime is virtually non-existent.  There is no poverty.  Well, it's all relative.  It's such an expensive place to live that they do have subsidized apartments where the lower-income people ($70,000 a year or so) can have a place to live.  Things are immaculate and extravagant and interesting and artistic, and there is construction everywhere because their economy is booming.

Posing in my $8 Wal-Mart sunglasses
in front of $8 billion buildings.
Singapore is a melting pot of Asian cultures, and speaks english because there are so many Chinese, Malaysians and Indians that they had to pick a common language back in 1958 when they got independence so that it would unify the country.  There were so many culture wars, they had to go with a neutral language to make people feel like the language was something they could have in common.  With the mix of cultures comes interesting and creative architecture and a fun-looking, modern style that mixes up New York trendy with classic Eastern decor.

We learned that having a car in this country is a very expensive endeavor.  First of all, the number of cars on the island is capped, so cars can only enter when cars leave, and it turns out to be about 200-300 of these slots per month.  With a population of 5 million, you can imagine that these are of high value to people.  They auction them off when they come available, and the cost of getting the right to own a vehicle can run you around $90,000 on average.  This license expires in 10 years.  So, you buy the right to have the car, then you buy the car, which is ├╝ber expensive because everything has to be imported.  Then, once you've got the car, you get a GPS system in the vehicle that tracks which roads you drive on and for how long, and you get charged for the road usage.  It would be like having a taxi meter in your car and getting charged for driving it.  People complain about taxes in the US...don't move to Singapore!

Matthew running camera for the event today.
We loaded up a bus from the port with the entire Unreasonable at Sea group to head to the Singapore Unreasonable Event that was planned by the local TEDx community.  The University sponsored it, and they did an absolutely lovely job.  It was a well-attended event, and they fed us like there was no tomorrow.

We had sushi, deep-fried soft-shell crab with sweet chili sauce, coffee eclairs, mango noodle salad and a few more things that I tried and loved, but have no idea what I ingested.  We ate way, way too much for lunch, then had to shoot the three hour pitch event.  Not the best idea when we're all sleep-deprived.  All I wanted was a nap.

Regardless, I ran slider up on the stage to get epic shots of the pitches and the audience, and I never fell asleep once.  The entrepreneurs did a great job, and the crowd really loved to hear about all of the great ideas that these companies have.

Photo compliments of Mark Crawford of today's Unreasonable pitch event.
Outside of the Fullerton where we had the
reception hosted by Google.  There you can see
the Sands Resort towers.  The infinity pool
is the connecting structure on top.
At the end of the event, we went to a dinner/reception hosted by Google on the rooftop of a swanky hotel that overlooked a large pond.  It was right across from the Marina Bay Sands Resort, which is the famous three tower hotel that has a large park/garden and infinity pool connecting the top of the three towers.  This was the hotel that kept Vegas going during the US's first economy hit in 2008.  Yes, they make that much money.  It's the most profitable hotel in the world.  The building cost $8 billion to build, and they paid it off within the first year of being open.

Needless to say, it was a pretty sweet view from the top of the Fullerton Bay Hotel with our free drinks and crazy-fancy appetizers.  I tried duck liver.  It was actually pretty good.  Weird spongy texture, but had the flavor of egg at first which melded into a roasted walnut finish.  Like a good wine.  Opened up nicely, as they say in the biz.

Matt and I needed to catch up on a little bit of sleep, so we didn't go out on the club scene this evening. I hear it's pretty swanky, and I'd rather save my $50 entrance fee and $15 a beverage for a hotel stay in Myanmar next week.  Oh, the life I live.