September 17, 2011 2 Comments
I’m back home in America after a wildly successful seven-plus weeks abroad. Adventures were had, family was visited, old friends were met and new ones were made. I spent the last ten days of my trip in Singapore and Bali. Singapore has changed quite a bit since I lived there in 2006 – it’s bigger, flashier and more crowded then I remember. There are more buildings downtown, a new additions to Sentosa island (including a Universal Studios theme park that we visited), and an entirely new club scene (R.I.P. Ministry of Sound).
The most notable change was the skyline itself. The Marina Bay Sands opened up in 2010 as a casino, resort hotel, and entertainment center, includes a vast shopping complex complete with an artificial ice skating rink (take that, Dubai) and is generally, awesome. We got drinks atop the hotel on the 57th floor and enjoyed a panoramic view of the skyline.
Over five days I also got a chance to speak with several different people about life in Singapore – the politics, the lifestyle, the advantages and disadvantages of a tightly run government. Most people I talked to were younger and content with the way things are for the most part, though everyone was quick to point out the changing political landscape. The most recent government elections represented a watershed moment where the ruling party won by less than one percent of the vote. The peoples’ unhappiness with the current government (People’s Action Party) is based on perceived arrogance and a lack of responsiveness to the public. However, they are one of the few countries that has still been able to boast an economic surplus over the last couple of years…so maybe they’re doing some things right.
Random fact: Singapore changed over to polymer/plastic notes for their currency, which are supposed to be more hygienic and less degradable. (nested random fact: While googling their currency I just learned that the world’s most valuable bill is Singapore’s $10,000 bill)
I visited Bali with my friend Russell and his girlfriend Clara, who posted a much more entertaining blog entry about the trip than I could write. Bali was fantastic – It has an entirely different pace of life from the ‘real world’ and we were able to enjoy the beaches, jungles and cities for a relaxing and rejuvenating five days. It has apparently gotten quite touristy over the past decade, and this is pretty obvious on certain parts of the island.
A guidebook I read said that tourists spend USD 100/day on average, while local Indonesians live on ~$2/day. But despite paying probably inflated prices, we were still eating three course meals for less than five bucks. Other highlights included the Monkey Forest in Ubud, bodysurfing some serious waves on the beaches, and a fun night out in Kuta thanks to a comically good drink special.
Aside from a nightmare flight cancellation in Istanbul on the way home (DON’T FLY DELTA TO TURKEY. JUST DON’T DO IT… ask me if you want to know the full story), it was smooth sailing. Alas, the fun is over. But the past couple of months have been enriching, refreshing and fun. While I’m happy to be back home, and looking forward to loading up my plate full of health IT policy once again, I am so glad that I decided to get out there and see the world. It’s worth taking the time to see.