Friday, May 21, 2010
4:40am Friday, May 21
After more than 20 hours of travel, we made it to the hotel in Singapore. I flew from DFW to Los Angeles. Had a 4 hour layover. Boarded Singapore Airlines to Tokyo. That was a 10 1/2 hours flight with about 300 people on board. The flight attendants looked like these perfect little china dolls. Very beautiful and wearing form fitting outfits with their hair pinned up and perfect makeup. The customer service was unbelievable. They try to accommodate your ever whim-- a huge difference between them and domestic flight attendants. You almost get the feeling that if you aren't pleased with their service, they'd take it as an ultimate offense. On our flight, we were fed constantly-- great lunch and dinner with lights snacks in between and after main meals. For lunch, I had breast with mushrooms, carrots and potatoes. For my dinner I had some type of seafood in cheese sauce with noodles and salad. As one might expect, tea is offered hot or cold and is a signature with most meals. As for flight entertainment, everyone had a tv monitor with 99 channels. I saw all kinds of movies, some that were just in theaters, like "It's Complicated" and "Brothers." I also saw old movies. After landing in Tokyo's Narita Airport, I walked around a bit. The airport was very clean and extremely hi-tech looking. What I found interesting was that there was no art or anything on the walls. As my instructor's husband put it, "The hi-tech (electronics) is their art!" The restrooms were also state-of-the art looking. The flight to Singapore from Tokyo took a little over 6 hours. By the time we landed, my bottom hurt!! Too much sitting. I tried to get up and walk around on the plane but there's only so much one can do!! Singapore's Airport is very big, lots of wide open space and it had art on display. Immediately, I noticed all the multi-ethnic people. I learned that Singapore is made up of Chinese, Indians, Malaysian and Singaporeans. I have seen very few whites, but the two I did meet were from Canada and Australia.
The hotel we are staying in is the River View. The accommodations are nice and much roomier than I expected. When my best friend, Racine and I traveled to Europe ten years ago, we were astounded at how tiny our beds were. Now in Asia, I'm surprised at how much room we have and how large the beds are, etc. Our view is amazing, but considering where we are, it would be hard to have a bad view. There are high-rises everywhere, beautifully tall, gleaming buildings right near the water. Near those are ancient temples. It's a perfect blend of old meets new.
If you noticed-- I was awake and writing at 4:40 this morning. That's because we hadn't been at the hotel very long when I started writing in my journal (to copy over to the blog). Once I did go to sleep, I woke up again at about 9am, got downstairs about 10am for breakfast. There was a buffet with all kinds of food-- everything you'd expect at IHOP: pancakes, eggs, fruit, sausage and bacon plus Asian fare: fish balls, noodles with vegetables, and more. The students: Janelle (just graduated from UNL with a degree in advertising), Trisha (Junior broadcasting major), Callie (criminal justice major), Tawny (News Editorial major who will graduate in December), Chelsea (News Editorial major who will graduate in December), Paige (a sophomore news editorial major), Tyler (just graduated from UNL with degree in Advertising-- and me were joined by Suba (Tom and Sriyani's daughter who owns a boutique ad agency in Sri Lanka). After breakfast, the students split into groups for some sightseeing. Me, Tyler, Paige, Chelsea and Callie walked around near the hotel and went into a shopping mall that had many western looking stores-- a very fancy McDonald's and clothing stores with similar looking items I'm sure I could find back at home. The salespeople seemed sort of pushy. I felt "watched," a lot. I don't know if it's because I was the only black in my group or what, but it didn't bother me. No one bought anything and after leaving the mall, we took a free shuttle to Chinatown. This mix of outdoor market and indoor shops had more of the kind of things I'd expect to see-- including all kinds of Asian souvenirs, ornate fans, kimonos, etc. Even though it was only about 85 degrees, it felt about 100, probably because of the humidity. At one point, we stopped to take a drink of coconut juice, straight from the coconut! It was refreshing-- very cold and not sweet at all! Once back at the hotel for a change of clothes, we took taxi cabs to the advertising agency, McCann Worldgroup and met with senior planner Mohamed Salim. McCann Singapore has handled some huge accounts. Some of them include the first ever Youth Olympics being held in Singapore this year. They've also handled L'Oreal, KFC, XBOX and others. Salim talked about how he ended up in Singapore and how western it is. He said Singapore is an easy city to assimilate to, it's safe and great for walking. After leaving there, we walked to a nearby mall for dinner. I had Indian cuisine. It was very spicy and did not taste at all like the Indian food I've had in Dallas (or New York). The others wanted to shop a little, but I headed back to the hotel. I had a very friendly cab driver who talked about the people of Singapore. He said it's wonderful how so many races, ethnicities live together peacefully and seem to not have any problems. He said the government, which is run by most Chinese, seems to make everything work. I need to read more about their type of government here. I think I've heard before that it is a rather Draconian society. Everyone appears to be happy or at least they believe they are and that everything is perfect even though there is a large number of unemployed people (according to the cab driver, who seemed very educated). I keep hearing people talk about relatively crime-free it is here. That might be because of strict laws in place. Chewing gum or spitting in public is punishable by fine. They want to keep it clean!! When I went through customs at the airport, the back of a form they gave me said "Warning: Death for drug traffickers under Singapore Law." If you drug traffick in the U.S., you may end up in prison. For further proof of the "low crime", I have been watching Channel NewsAsia tonight. I haven't seen a single story about crime. I still don't know if that means it isn't happening or the government is just doing a good job making sure the media don't report it.