Guest post by Marc Brown, Class of 2012
We kicked off our international adventure with a Singapore city tour. We met our tour guide Lin at the hotel restaurant Ah Hoi, for a quick lunch before heading out on the city. Our first stop was a boat tour on the Singapore River where we saw the bright colored buildings and boardwalk bars of the Clarke Quay area, followed by the high-rises of the Singapore financial district, and ending at the Marina Bay Reservoir and the new $6.3 billion dollar Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino. We found out a few days at our visit to GE Water the significance of the river and bay in providing fresh drinking water for Singapore Citizens.
A number of us came back later to explore the hotel and it’s amazing rooftop deck and pool, but during the tour we only got a chance to take a quick look in the mall (which has an ice rink). The mall is a symbol of the high-luxury shopping culture that exists in Singapore. Almost every major luxury brand lives in this mall and in many other malls in this small city-state. The Marina Bay Mall includes the world’s only floating Luis Vuitton store (one of the five in the city). During our tour Lin explained the “The 5 C’s of Singapore: cash, car, credit card, condominium, and country club” and the cultural importance of making an impression – we heard similar stories later in Beijing.
The weather decided not to cooperate with us and we got caught up in a big rainstorm, so we made some last-minute adjustments to our tour and headed up to the Jewel Box lookout at Mount Faber for a great view of the city. The skyline really is impressive. We followed that stop with a visit to the famed Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel where the Singapore Sling was invented (Singapore Sling = Gin, Cherry Heering, Bénédictine, and fresh pineapple juice). We all enjoyed one (and in some cases a couple) of the yummy drinks until the rain stopped. After the Long Bar we proceeded outside for a trishaw (rickshaw) ride through the Arab Quarter and Little India areas of Singapore, both representative of the mixed population of Singapore.
We returned to the hotel to change and for a quick breather and then hoped back on the bus for our welcome dinner at Jumbo Seafood. There was still rain in the air but it was in the high 70’s so sitting outside in a tent wasn’t too bad. We had a great selection of seafood (at least for the meat eaters) which was served on a lazy susan, a great solution for large groups. We got to try a Singapore specialty, peppered crab – it was a bit too peppery for my tastes but the other food was quite good. A nice cap to a great first day in Singapore!