Wednesday, December 13, 2006

weekend in singapore

it was an impromptu visit. we had been thinking of spending a weekend away & after much delibration, settled on s'pore. the x'mas lights along orchard road was the attraction & we've not been there for over a year. after securing accomodation just outside of the Central Business District (where cars entering during peak hours pay a levy) we took a leisurely drive south, careful not to exceed the speed limit along the 2nd link, where i have had speeding tickets twice (yeah, some people never learn!) .

at the s'pore check-point, i had to renew my autopass (a prepaid card registered to the car which is used for paying tolls & parking fees) because unbeknownst to me, it had expired. so after getting the passports stamped, i had to go over to the Land Transport Authority counter to renew it. the 2 english-speaking malay ladies manning the counter were ever so helpful & friendly, & the autopass was renewed, with a smile, in minutes. (anyone with a similar satisfying experience at our local government offices, please let me know!)

after checking in late morning, we had lunch at a nearby food court & then we're off to check out orchard road. the lights weren't switched on yet, but the festivities were visibly in full swing - teenagers dressed as elves were soliciting donations, others attired as santa clauses were promoting the shopping complexes & the x'mas trees & buntings were prominently displayed. unashamedly, even biblical texts were not spared :

but i can understand the audacious attempt. singapore is a wholly secular state (try this in malaysia & the city hall/town council guys will dismantle the signs before you can say " ho, ho, ho!" & fine you for putting it up without approval in the 1st place - & no, they won't close 1 eye on this matter!!) & the retailers will do anything to garner sales because s'poreans love to shop. the affluence is obviously palpable. the cars on the road say it all - beemers, mercs & volvos & many other foreign marques hogged the roads. the working class strut around in the latest fashions, talking on the fanciful camera-PDA-phones & sipping designer lattes at SGD12 a pop.

i met up with an ex-colleague whom i had the great pleasure of working with when i was in s'pore in the mid-90s. kenneth was the exemplary medical officer - he's intelligent, determined, has an extremely affable personality & well-liked by everyone because by example. i know i can rest easy when i'm on-call with him because he will capably handle most of the problems that may arise. he has been appointed consultant for some years now.

over udom, tempura & green tea, we caught up on old times. he's just gone into private practice - oh, did i mention that he picked me up in his new spanking volvo S60? - which surprised me because he was such a loyal worker in our previous hospital. apparently, the new head of department has brought in drastic changes - far too radical for him to remain in the dept & though he is obviously happy where he is now, i can sense he still misses his old job.

the next morning, we checked out early & went on the Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) trains - the kids just loved the ride. they're on par with our own LRTs in terms of comfort & safety, with 1 major difference - convenience & user-friendliness because the same ticket can be used when changing trains. stopped briefly at the esplanade & chanced upon an exhibition of metal wire figurines by a local sculptor :

guess anything can be art these days!

so, with all that x'mas festivities going on, what did i get myself? an archeological study bible at 30% off :

tell me if this was an impulsive purchase.


Anonymous said...

Ha, ha, for a while I really thought you could be one of the 'doctors' I met at a doctor friend's turkey dinner in Sing-Land (well, I am one of the kind one in Malaysia to call it 'singing' land instead of 'Sin-Land'). But, no, you were not one of them!

With all that has been said by you, I must say CCIS (Celebrate Christmas in Singapore)has brought the Christian community together to bring the good news to those who throng Orchard Road. I enjoyed a very meaningful musical last night at the shopping complex just across the hotel I stay in!

Quote what the president of National Council of Churches of Singapore said,

May we all do our part in bringing the good news to everyone. And may the name of Christ be made known, honored, and glorified this Christmas.

Blessed Christmas, doc!

just me said...

Not impulsive if you have been planning to dig into it.
What did wife get and kids get?

doc said...


you are indeed 1 of the kind ones to call it sing-land, but if you really think about it, they are not THAT sinful as the government plays the role of big brother - we've had a casino for decades & they're just about to have 1.

blessed x'mas to you & your family, too.

doc said...

just me,

actually, i've been wanting to get a new bible for some time - my current one is the 1st i have, given at a evangelistic meeting in the late 70s. having looked around, i thought this was really unique bcos my interest in the old world was initiated by recent programs in the discovery & national geographic channels.

my kids had new books, clothes & toys.

btw, yan beat you to it this time!

blessed x'mas to you & your family.

just me said...

Blessed christmas to you and family too! May you continue to touch lives!

doc said...

just me,


Anonymous said...

Hope you didn't miss the life-size nativity set with live people in it, in orchard road.

It is true that Singapore can be a nicer place than Malaysia but with that said, Malaysia is still home and I still intend to go back there someday. (currently living in S'pore)

Hope you and your family will have a happy and blessed Christmas.

p.s. I read your blog every once in a while when I get the chance to surf the net. I really like your blog. =)

doc said...


thks for your kind comments.

yes, orchard rd is so alive with x'mas, isn't it? i wonder if bukit bintang is similarly adorned?

s'pore can be a nice place to live in if you can accept that cars/parking & accomodation are expensive, food is not fantastic but the generally squeaky clean & efficient administration more than makes up for that.

blessed x'mas to you & your family, too!

ps. i would like to visit your blog if you have one.

Las montaƱas said...

Ha! The grass always greener on the other side, so it seems. smiling officers.. did you check whether they had a gun/knife pointed behind them? ;)

for me, i just hate the commercial feel to Christmas. The real meaning of this special day has been lost in all the frenzied shopping and santa claus..etc

I'd love to hop over to M'sia for a breather in one of those lovely cool mountains. Far away from the maddening crowd.

LX said...

Are a Singaporean?

doc said...


guns & knives? ha ha, this is in s'pore la, not JB! don't you remember what SM Lee said a few years ago - that JB is full of robbers, murderers & kidnappers, or something to that effect? only he forget to add corrupt politicians, con-men & extortionists to the list.

nah, i'm sure the officers were happy thinking of their year-end bonuses.

if you have never been to langkawi, think about it, as i was very pleasantly surprised on a recent trip.

thks for your comments & blessed xmas to you & your family.

doc said...


s'porean? did i write in singlish? did i exhibit kiasu-ism?

nah, i'm just like you - a true blue citizen of boleh-land!

selamat menyambut hari natal, adik.

EstherandAlvin said...

By the way, Blessed Christmas & a Great New Year ahead! All the way from Dublin,Eire...

doc said...


blessed christmas & new year to you, too.

ps. do i know you?

Anonymous said...