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2012 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix April 10, 2012

Posted by Dru in East Asia, Sports, Travel.
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Author’s  Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “2012 Formula Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-Os

This year I decided that my grand trip would be to head to Malaysia to watch the 2012 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix.  After going to the Singapore Grand Prix in 2011, I talked about what our next trip would be with my girlfriend.  We decided that it would be cheaper overall and probably more enjoyable to head to Malaysia to watch the F1 Grand Prix than to go to the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka.  In Singapore, we had a great time and I enjoyed seeing and doing many things.  I had no expectations whatsoever in Malaysia and after doing some researching, I found a cheap flight and ordered tickets online to the F1 Grand Prix.  I wasn’t expecting too much from what I had seen but I did expect a typical F1 experience.  Unfortunately, whether it was due to the promoters or Malaysia itself, I was let down in many ways.

The atmosphere of the Malaysian Grand Prix was similar in many respects to the other Grand Prix I had visited.  The need for a party like atmosphere with many familiar overtones was dominant.  First, there were the typical shops where you could enjoy buying various F1 merchandise at F1 prices.  It is safe to say that almost every F1 race has the exact same shops when it comes to merchandise.  You will find shops that sell all of the various team clothing and accessories but you will be hard pressed to find a lot of it at the Malaysian Grand Prix.  I found that the Singapore GP was a little better overall in terms of what I could buy.  It could be because the F1 season is just starting when the Malaysian GP is being held so many of the teams don’t have enough merchandise on offer, but that is just speculation on my part.  Then there is the food.  You can’t go to any F1 event without noticing the types of food that are on offer or trying it when you are there all day.  In Japan, there are a lot of standard foods that I eat at the race all the time and they are usually delicious.  At the Malaysian GP, I found the food to be sub-par for what I would like to eat.  While there are a lot of good things to eat, there was too much bad western food and the Malaysian food that was available was just average.  I didn’t mind it too the food in Malaysia too much but after eating at the Japan GP or even the Singapore GP, I was a bit disappointed with my experience here.  Maybe in the future the circuit organizers can improve their food offerings as other areas of Kuala Lumpur had very good things to eat.

In terms of facilities, the Sepang International Circuit is a nice place.  The circuit is very interesting with a lot of good racing.  They have several sections and going to the GP is relatively cheap.  You don’t need to buy a ticket to just go to the races and enjoy the atmosphere.  The only time you need to show your ticket is when you head into the grandstands, but even then it doesn’t matter too much.  The layout is a little strange as they have a large parking lot that serves as the drop off and pick up point for the various buses.  You then walk up or take a shuttle up a hill that leads to the main entrance.  The main mall is basically a public area that has a welcome centre and shopping leading to the main grandstands.  It is a nice setup that allows people who haven’t paid for tickets to still experience a bit of the GP itself, but I was amazed that they didn’t have a few basic merchandise items that were exclusive to ticket holders.  Once you are in the grandstands, you get to figure out where you are sitting, which is not very easy depending on which area you are in.  The signage was very poor for a world class circuit but that is very easy to improve if they invest a little money.  The main flaw to the design layout was the fact that the grandstands were sectioned off by security.  I had to cross security to get to my seats and to buy food, but if I wanted to go back and get a shirt or a program, I had to leave the security area.  While they did provide UV stamps so we could re-enter, it was very troublesome to get through security, and with the heat and humidity, I was worried my stamp would “melt” away from my sweat.  I do wish they had a few shops in the grandstand area, but there wasn’t a lot of space either.  While the layout of the plaza area wasn’t ideal, the seats were great.  I had a great view of the entire back half of the track from the back main grandstand.  The front and back straights were covered by a canvas roof, but the roof had two big flaws.  The first was that the roof wasn’t UV protected.  I continued to tan a bit in the sun even though I was in the shade.  It was unexpected but for a 13 year old circuit, I can’t complain too much.  The main problem was the rain.  While I was under the roof, the roof leaked a lot.  Whether it was the seam or the steel girder holding up the roof, during the rain it just dripped water all over me.  There were two or three seats that were really bad and I had the unfortunate luck to be in one of them.  Thankfully Petronas handed out free ponchos to whoever could get their hands on one and I had a small cover for the rain.

The race itself was pretty interesting.  There were 4 races that I knew of for that day.  The first was an amateur race that lasted just a few laps.  It was fun to watch but not the best race in the world.  Next was a Malaysian racing series, I think, with various GT cars.  It was a better race but half of it was run under a safety car due to a tremendous crash at the start of the race.  After the restart, it was somewhat procedural.  The last support race was a GP2 race.  It is the feeder series into F1 itself with many drivers in GP2 graduating into F1.  It is a bit of an up and down series with many drivers deciding to go up and then after failing to survive in F1 they return to GP2.  For the older drivers in F1, they tend to change series completely with little to no chance of returning to F1.  This is an unfortunately problem in F1 today with a lot of teams requiring drivers to bring sponsorship money into the team before they can be considered a member of the team.  It is an unfortunate problem of a world where the economy is still lagging and many car companies don’t have enough money to support their own teams.

The main event was, of course, the F1 Grand Prix itself.  The entire weekend was a build up to a race that started at 4pm on Sunday March 25th.  The hour before the race was a scorcher.  Over 30C and high humidity meant that I was sitting and sweating at the same time.  I kept as cool as I could and just relaxed for most of the day under the shade of the back grandstand.  As the race was about to get underway, a huge thundershower was rolling in.  It seemed okay at first and a little hard to see for me in my seat but some parts of the circuit had rain and others didn’t.  As the race got underway, people were cheering and watching intently.  After a handful of laps, and some frantic pit stops to change tires, the race was suddenly stopped due to the amount of rain flooding the track.  Malaysia is a country that expects rain and has good drainage but when there is a thundershower, all bets are off.  There was too much standing water so the race was red flagged and delayed almost an hour.  However, when the racing got back underway, it was very intense.  The rain was still falling when they restarted but it was lightening up.  It then stopped and allowed the track to completely dry by the end.  There were a few accidents on track but nothing that would completely stop the racing.  There was a big battle between the Sauber of Sergio Perez and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.  A typical David and Goliath battle where most of the people were cheering for Perez to slay Alonso and win the race.  Unfortunately, due to a small mistake at the end of the race and the team and driver agreeing to hold second place, Perez failed to win the grand prix.  It was sad but understandable for such a small team to value the safety of a guaranteed podium over the chance of a win.

Overall I would say the race was a lot of fun.  It met all of my expectations but unfortunately it didn’t exceed them.  My expectations were set a little low but I was expecting it to be a tough challenge to rival Singapore in terms of fun.  The circuit itself is not difficult to access and there are a lot of positives about going to a grand prix in a foreign country.  I don’t regret going to the Malaysian Grand Prix.  All of the problems I had with this race were pretty small.  While the problems were small, they all added up and they need to be improved before I consider going back for either F1 or MotoGP in the future but if they do fix enough of the small things in the next few years, I will be back for the races.  Otherwise, I’ll have to find another excuse to go to Kuala Lumpur.

2012 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix is part of a series of posts detailing my experiences of visiting various F1 races around the world.  To read more about the various races I have attended, please follow the links below:

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2011 Year in Review December 27, 2011

Posted by Dru in East Asia, Japan, Kansai, Kanto.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “2011 Year in Review” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-L6

It has been quite a year for me here in Tokyo.  The year started off pretty boring but got terrifying very quickly.  Things settled down of course and now things are pretty much back to normal.  I managed to make many new friends and got out of Japan twice.  Unfortunately I didn’t return home for a year but the adventures I did have will last me a lifetime.  2011 has been the year “everything changed” as the catch phrase goes.  I wouldn’t say everything has changed, but a lot has and will continue to change for years to come.  There is always change in life and I feel that this past year was not that different than past years, in terms of the total amount of change.

The year was pretty standard for me.  The start was filled mostly with work.  I was working hard as I had a personal project that I would be working on starting in late spring 2011.  I decided that working almost to my death was necessary to build up my savings.  I went out from time to time but spent most of my time just ploughing away at work.  By March, things were going smoothly until the 11th when the earth shook.  I can look back at the post I made immediately after the 11th when the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred and I can tell that I was scared deep within my mind.  It wasn’t something I wanted to admit to myself at the time but it was probably true.  Even now I try to think that I wasn’t scared, but it was a point where I nearly had a nervous breakdown.  For nearly a month after the 11th, I heard nothing but people being concerned with my safety as well as people telling me things about radiation.  While the concern was always nice, the information on the radiation was not.  There comes a time when you choose your home and very little information will make you change it.  It was difficult and frightening to read a lot of the information but necessary as I had my own confirmation bias that things would be okay.

Once the drama of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster had subsided, things started to return to normal. Life never did return to normal, like before, but things were a lot better.  I started to plan my trips better and my personal project was delayed by just a month.  The summer months were filled with work and a little travel.  I visited Taipei for the first time in my life, as well as Singapore.  I was able to see various areas of Tokyo that I never would have visited before as well.  The summer was hot and humid as always but thankfully not too bad.  There was a lot of energy saving measures everywhere as Japan didn’t have the energy capacity at the time but now that it is winter, the energy supply is looking adequate for Tokyo’s demands.  It was a very difficult adjustment for most people but being me, it was nothing more than a quick change in my personal lifestyle to cope with the higher indoor temperatures and lack of light.

The biggest change for me, other than the earthquake, was my dog Sox.  I had gotten him in December 2010 and it was my first full year with him.  It took a bit of time for him to get used to living in my apartment and the earthquake followed by a trip to Kobe wasn’t helpful either.  He is such a cute and fun dog and now life has settled very well.  He is used to my place and he feels very much at home.  He even sleeps in my bed now, although I’m not always happy he does so.  My previous lifestyle of travelling at least once a season has ended though so it will be difficult for me to keep writing posts in the future.  Hopefully I’ll find more things to talk about in the future but it looks likely that I will have to write more about life in Tokyo rather than the various places I would love to visit.  I will write about them when I do go there but unfortunately it might not be as often as before.

In terms of statistics, this blog has grown a lot.  Aside from June, I have averaged over 1,000 hits a month with the busiest month being March (1,455).  This is probably due to the earthquake and people reading a bit about it, but October (1,432) was also a big month.  In terms of busiest days, November 3rd saw the most hits ever with 123.  My blog has opened a few interesting doors as a few news personalities in the US did contact me for interviews about the disaster in March, or to ask if I knew anyone up there, but I was not qualified to talk about it nor did I know anyone up there.  Tokyo was far from a disaster zone and I didn’t know anyone up there.  In even better news, I had two pictures published.  One was for my dog.  I had a picture of my dog published in a dog calendar for 2012.  It was a very small picture and one of nearly 365 pictures.  He occupied a small slot in June for just one day, but it is better than nothing.  Having my picture published in Mollie Makes was even bigger for me.  It is a new crafts magazine in the UK and I was extremely flattered that they wanted to use my picture, although it was just a small one and one of many used on the page.  Still, I’m happy to see things getting better after a few years of this blog.

This coming year should be exciting.  Last year at this time I mentioned that I was finally putting a little money into this blog and my site.  Things have changed a lot but all of it has been behind the scenes.  I have been working with a partner on a huge project that has taken a lot of my free time and a bit of my work life too.  I hope to have something to announce by spring.  I mentioned that I would have a new website last year, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet.  It is still in the works but as things go, they crawl to a finish at times.  Hopefully it will be complete very soon and the big project is released on time.  It is a big challenge to do things by a deadline but that is what must be done.  The year is ending but that doesn’t mean things will end.  Things evolve and so have I.  I can only hope it all works out.

Dru

Singapore (Orchard & Missed Opportunities) November 29, 2011

Posted by Dru in East Asia, Travel.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Singapore (Orchard & Missed Opportunities)” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-JO

Orchard is Singapore’s version of Ginza.  It is the high end of shopping and a place where people go to be seen.  When someone is looking for high fashion items like the perfect Gucci bag, Orchard seems to be the place to go.  I only spent a few hours in Orchard and I actually arrived a little early.  I arrived in Orchard around 10:30, and most of the shops were still closed.  I ended up wasting a bit of my time just walking around looking for shops that were open.  It is very much like Ginza where things don’t really come alive until 11am, at best.  I went into Orchard not really expecting too much as I don’t normally shop for high end items, but I ended up enjoying the experience.

The main strip, Orchard Road, is where most of the shops are.  There really isn’t much else to it, but there are a few places to visit on either side of the main strip.  I found that if you go off the main strip, you can see a few cheaper shops compared to the luxury of Orchard.  The main strip itself is a plethora of shopping malls and department stores.  The anchor of Orchard has to be Tangs.  It is one of the oldest department stores in Orchard and a major retailer in Singapore.  When they opened, Orchard was little more than a small residential and cemetery area.  Once Tangs built their main shop, things started to change.  It eventually turned into the high end shopping district it is today.  The most common area is an area between Orchard Station and Dhoby Ghaut Station.  It is a short walk between the stations and fairly easy, even on a very hot day.  You can easily walk from mall to mall, department store to department store and only feel the heat a little.  My only surprise was to see the many Japanese department stores.  Unfortunately, some of them were just a pale comparison to their original counterparts in Japan, but there were many of them and the ones that spent money to be upscale were very much like their original counterparts.  Orchard is also well known for its cafes and restaurants.  Like any upscale shopping district, you need to have places for people to rest, relax, and eat.

When visiting Singapore for the F1 Grand Prix, there are many things you can’t do.  You can’t really experience the night life in Singapore.  You spend most of the night at the race itself and after the race you are pretty tired.  The Friday qualifying wasn’t too late but after walking around all day in the circuit, I just didn’t have any energy to keep going.  On Saturday, the qualifying didn’t end till 11pm or so, which made it difficult to go out afterwards.  By Sunday, I was just too tired from going everywhere possible.  There are several places I wish I could have gone if I had more time and more flexibility to travel around Singapore.  The first would be Sentosa Island.  To me, it looks like nothing more than a Singapore version of Disney World.  There are beaches, shopping malls, and other amusement attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore.  It looked like a nice, expensive, place to visit.  If I had more time, I would have spent a day just trying many things on the island.  The other regret I had was not being able to go on a night safari.  In Japan, a lot of Japanese people told me to go on a night safari, but since I was too busy with F1, there was no chance I could have gone on a safari.  It seems interesting but at the same time it wasn’t high enough on my list of things to do in Singapore.

One other regret is not getting out and around Singapore itself.  Singapore is well connected to Malaysia as well as Indonesia.  I wish I had a lot more time to visit one of the resort islands in the area, although travelling to Thailand might be a better idea due to the prices.  Singapore is a wonderful country and it is a place I wish to re-visit in the future.  There are many other places that I would love to visit but if the opportunity does arise, I will be heading to Singapore very quickly.  Unfortunately, a short visit without knowing any locals probably created a tourist bubble around me and influenced my own impressions of Singapore.  I wish I knew people who lived in Singapore to get a better idea as to how life really is, as I learned when I visited Hong Kong and Taiwan in the past.  Hopefully I can revisit soon and get a better understanding of the people and culture that is unique to Singapore.

Singapore (Orchard & Missed Opportunities) is part of a series of posts on Singapore.  Please continue with the links below to read more about Singapore:

Singapore (Raffles Place & Marina Bay) November 22, 2011

Posted by Dru in East Asia, Travel.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Singapore (Raffles Place & Marina Bay)” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-JL

The area on the south side of Marina Bay can easily be summed up as being Raffles Place Station and the Marina Bay Sands complex.  It is a vast area that is still being developed and will continue to change over the next few years.  It is a place where seeing the old traditional look of Singapore is being squeezed out by the new modern complexes.  Most businessmen will be heading to this area more often while most tourists will just pass that area and head straight to the shopping complex and casino in the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.  It may not be as varied as the Bugis and City Hall area but it is just as important.

Raffles Place Station feels like a misnomer to me.  It is a name of the station in the central business district of Singapore but the Raffles Hotel is not located near this station.  Most of this area is generally pretty boring.  You can head into the core business district and see many tall and architecturally interesting buildings.  It is a beacon of modern architecture, but that is about it.  Unless you are interested in taking photographs of these buildings and some of the art that is spread throughout the area, it won’t be interesting.  In fact, on the weekends, even Saturdays, the entire area is nearly shut down.  There is very little to do as many of the shops were closed, including the shopping malls during the F1 weekend!  The river and bay side is where most tourists will flock.  There is a bridge connecting the Parliament Building to the south side of the river.  Along the river, Boat Quay, there are dozens of small restaurants and bars.  It is a great place to get a meal, but be aware that the people there are very aggressive, especially around lunch time.  It was difficult for me to just walk around without someone trying to coax me to eat at their restaurant.  I couldn’t relax as much as I wanted and make my own choice, but the same time it is a great way to get information on the restaurants.  I learned that most of the restaurants had a happy hour in the afternoon.  In fact, most of Singapore has happy hour specials that last from noon-5pm.  Liquor is usually half priced, around $5 a glass.  From 5-8pm, it is usually 25% off and from 8pm, regularly priced.  The shops on the river are actually wonderful once you sit down.  The prices are reasonable for lunch and they offer outdoor terraces with riverfront views.  I enjoyed a nice Indian lunch while having wonderful views of an art gallery and the Fullerton Hotel.  Most of the restaurants and bars are almost exactly the same, aside from the food they serve, and they do have indoor areas that are air conditioned, but on a beautiful day, I couldn’t resist the riverfront view.

Marina Bay can easily be summed up as the area around the Marina Bay Sands.  The Marina Bay Sands is a huge hotel complex that includes a museum, future convention centre, future botanical garden, hotel, casino, and shopping mall.  It is a place of luxury for one of the most highly recommended hotels in the world.  The main sight for a tourist has to be the observation deck at the top of the hotel.  It is a little expensive but the top of the hotel has a large floor that is shaped like a boat.  Unless you are a guest of the hotel, you are limited to the bow of the ship which provides views of Marina Bay, the most important area.  The observation deck is a little sparse with just an open deck area.  There is a restaurant/bar at the top as well but from what I was told it is a little expensive.  You can enjoy a nice lunch there but that’s about it.  Unfortunately, you cannot go to the pool area or enter the pool.  It is limited to hotel guests only. Thankfully you can see the pool from the observation deck but you cannot get close to it.  The casino in the hotel is nice but very boring.  I found the casino to be very typical.  Bags are not allowed and you must show your passport or you’ll have to pay a high fee to enter.  While I’m not a real gambler, I wanted to try it out again but my experience was not good this time.  You definitely need to go with good friends and have a fun time with it.  I found the rules of the casino to be a bit strange compared to my trip to Las Vegas.  Las Vegas knows how to gamble and I’ll leave it at that.  The mall itself was good.  There are lots of high end shops and many things to see.  Unfortunately, if you don’t have the wallet to make purchases there, you won’t be able to do too much.  There is an indoor “ice” rink that is made out of some sort of plastic.  It wasn’t very popular but a few children did have a great time on the “ice”.  Other than that, the entire area is not very interesting.  The outdoor boardwalk was more interesting.

The last area of interest is the Fullerton Hotel area.  It is nestled across the bay from the Marina Bay Sands and connected to the riverfront.  The Fullerton Hotel itself is a typical old high end looking hotel, but on the other side of the hotel is Merlion Park which has the famous Merlion.  The Merlion is a famous tourist spot that has the mythological lion-mermaid.  Positioned at the edge where a Marina meets the Singapore River, the Merlion continuously spews high pressure water out of its mouth providing cute pictures.  Having lived in Japan for a while, it is somewhat customary for people to open their mouths and take a picture as if they are drinking from the lion’s… spit…  Of course I did that and had a fun time playing around the Merlion itself.  Behind the Merlion is a mini-Merlion.  This one is less than 2 metres tall and made of tile.  It is a very anti-climactic model from the original.  In fact, the original Merlion is not very interesting, to be very honest.  I would rate the mini-Merlion as very disappointing but a good novelty.  There are other restaurants and cafes around the area as well as a connecting bridge to the north side of the bay itself.  While I’ll probably never return to this specific area, I do recommend it to those who visit the area for the first time.

The Raffles Place and Marina Bay areas are an essential area to visit for tourists, although I personally didn’t find it to be that interesting.  It has a lot to see and do and there are great things about the area.  I still prefer the old side of Singapore compared to the modern areas.  I can generally see architecturally interesting buildings in Tokyo relatively easily so seeing new modern buildings is not always interesting for me.  For others, it can be a very fun place to be.  For those who are visiting Singapore for business, it is probably necessary to visit this area and heading to the riverfront after work is a good idea.  You can relax a lot and enjoy the beautiful views.  It’s not the best but it is still a good place to be.

Singapore (Raffles Place & Marina Bay) is part of a series of posts on Singapore.  Please continue with the links below to read more about Singapore:

Singapore (Bugis & City Hall) November 15, 2011

Posted by Dru in East Asia, Travel.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Singapore (Bugis & City Hall)” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-JI

Bugis Station and City Hall Station is the focal point of the area north of Marina Bay.  There are a few other stations in the area but these are the traditional old stations.  They are somewhat more historical than the other regions of Singapore with a wide range of things to see and do.  This ranges from shopping to visiting religious locations to visiting tourist spots.  It is a place that is full of life and a place that can give people a headache if they hate crowds.  For anyone who loves the big city, this is a great place to be.

Bugis Station is where I had my base when I visited Singapore.  I stayed in a hotel that was between Bugis Station and Little India.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the time or energy to go to Little India.  The area near Bugis Station is very much a shopping destination.  There are several shopping malls and lots of teens and young adults in the area.  I found it to be a hard place to get around due to the sheer number of people walking around.  It is very akin to visiting Shibuya or Shinjuku which made it a place that I enjoyed.  The shopping malls were predominantly for younger people and the middle class.  Many of them are connected to each other.  The malls themselves had a mix of western and eastern shops.  I noticed a lot of American and British brands, probably heavily influenced by Singapore’s past colonial days.  There were also a lot of Japanese style shops, but nowhere near as many as Taipei.  If you head outside of the shopping malls, you can find a few night market style streets where you can pick up all of your tacky souvenirs from Merlion key chains to postcards.  You can venture a little farther and find a bunch of hawkers/food courts where you can get a lot of delicious food.  I found that staying inside the shopping mall food courts to be more relaxing and much cooler as well.  Hawker areas tend to be for locals whereas food courts are where tourists tend to go.  If you head towards City Hall Station and Promenade Station, you will find even more shopping malls but they tend to skew more towards the higher end shoppers, but not extreme luxury.

While shopping is a big thing in the area, it isn’t the only thing to do.  There are many religious sights to see and visit while in the area.  Heading north of Bugis Station will take you to Arab St.  It is an old historical area where you can see the Middle East community.  The focal point of the entire area is the Masjid Sultan Mosque.  It is a grand mosque at one end of the Arab St. area.  It can be difficult to see from the surrounding streets due to the tall buildings in the area but once you are on Arab St. itself it is pretty easy to find.  It is a beautiful mosque with a grand golden orb on top.  The streets around the mosque sell a variety of fabrics and rugs typical of a stereotypical Middle Eastern/Arabic town.  There are also dozens of posh restaurants and cafes in the area selling ethnic food as well.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to eat in these places but they looked delicious and welcoming.

Raffles Place or Raffles Hotel is one of the most historical places and biggest icons of the area.  The Raffles Hotel is one of the oldest and most luxurious hotels in Singapore.  It has retained its original colonial style.  The walls are painted a beautiful white and the courtyards are impeccably clean.  The palm trees inside the various courtyards bring the feel of a tropical paradise, without the beach.  The entire hotel is magnificent but unfortunately I will probably never have enough money to spend even one night there.  Next to the hotel is the parliament building.  It is an old historical building as well but as far as I could tell, off limits to tourists.  It is an official building that is very picturesque.  While the area around City Hall Station is more historical with the Raffles Hotel; Promenade and Esplanade Stations show the modern side of the area.  Just a short walk from the Raffles Hotel, there are new modern hotels as well as the Esplanade Theatres.  The Esplanade Theatres are two buildings that are part of one theatre complex.  They are iconic and shown in most, if not all travel brochures on Singapore.  They are two dome-like structures that look like a pair of durian or a pair of dragonfly eyes.  From afar, it is a very interesting structure, but up close it loses its flare.  If you have the energy, you can also head out to the Singapore Flyer.  It is a large Ferris wheel that takes roughly 30 minutes to make one trip.  It was designed by a Japanese architect and designed to be a labyrinth.  It is designed to bring you in and keep you in.  It is a typical tourist trap.  Thankfully the Flyer itself has great views of the surrounding area.

Overall, you can spend several days just exploring every street in and around this area.  It is nice to be in the area and there are many hotels making it a very convenient place to be.  You can do pretty much everything on foot provided you can survive the heat.  After living in Tokyo for 6 years now, I find the heat to be bearable.  It isn’t comfortable and you have to seek air conditioning after an hour or so, but it is manageable.

Singapore (Bugis & City Hall) is part of a series of posts on Singapore.  Please continue with the links below to read more about Singapore:

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