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 he....er....leads 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.