Mixing Business with Tourism

January 24, 2006
As Don mentions in his comments, it sounds like I’m on vacation, not a business trip. While the main reason for coming, training, begins tomorrow and lasts through Friday, Monday we mixed business with touristy stuff. We met with our contact here, Jeff, in the morning, grabbed lunch, then headed out to find a print shop to make copies of the booklets we’d need for the training. While we waited for the copies, we walked over to Raffles, the most famous hotel in Singapore. It is named for Sir Stamford Raffles, who "founded" (i.e., he was the first European to start a permanent colonial settlement) Singapore in 1819. The British and Dutch had swapped control of the island before Raffles arrived, but the current government here officially calls him its founder.
Anyway, the hotel has a lobby straight out of the colonial period, and a famous bar called the Long Bar, where Joseph Conrad and Somerset Maugham, among others, hung out. In 1915 a bartender there invented a drink to appeal to ladies in the bar. The pink concoction became known as the Singapore Sling, and having one there is what you "have to do" when you go to Singapore (rather like how you "have to" ride the cable cars in San Francisco). So the drink is very overpriced (it is widely known they use a mix, not even the original ingredients), but I had one anyway, and Felix preserved the moment with the photo here. Felix, who already had had his sling on an earlier visit to Singapore, settled for an overpriced beer–Tiger, Singapore’s local brew.
After dinner we headed to the night zoo. I cannot begin to describe what an amazing place this is. The animal areas are bathed in a soft light that the animals can’t really see, so they think it’s just night. We rode a tram and walked dark trails, and saw incredible animals, many of them native to Asia and so very exotic to me. The tigers prowled right up to the glass we stood behind; bats flew over our heads; and the hyenas paced endlessly in figure-8s and howled in such a way that I don’t know who thought to call them "laughing." It is an experience that is not easy to explain. Flash photos disturb the animals, so the only pictures I took were on the way to the parking lot, where there were animal models lit from within. I’ve included the elephants, Val’s favorites.
Today it was more business than fun, as we finished preparing for the training. We are ready to go!

One comment

  1. Bob…..OK, that night zoo sounds fantastic. I can\’t wait to tell Joshua all about it when he wakes (me) up in the morning!! What an interesting/intriguing concept. Does it get crowded? Can you toss food to the animals? (is it anything like what we see in the US?)

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