Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Relentless March Of Progress

I took this picture while strolling down a promenade. This is Singapore's latest mega project, the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort. The design consists of three large shells containing conference halls, shopping areas, restaurants (including three celebrity chef eateries), and a casino. There will also be three large 55 storey hotel towers linked on their top floors by a sweeping sky garden, and a centerpiece museum which juts out onto the bay. It will also be one of the largest and most expensive casinos in the world. Current costs stands at US$5.5 billion. The project has already been hit by construction woes and spiraling costs. The deadline for completion has been pushed back to April next year and workers are now working round the clock. And guess what? There are two of these projects being constructed at the same time.

This wasn't built when I was here this time last year. Such is the pace of progress that in the space of 1 year, two huge mega contruction projects have sprung up from thin air. This place that I know is changing so fast that I sometimes feel like a stranger in my own home. Places that I used to hang out when I was a kid have now been demolished to make way for new train stations and shopping malls.

Another shopping mall. This wasn't here last year...

Perhaps I shouldn't keep harping back to the good ol' times. Isn't this how we should make progress? At the cost of losing our past. On a brighter note, I took the opportunity to walk along Orchard Road (Singapore's prime shopping belt) and was pleasantly surprised to see all the nice Christmas lights. It would have been better if it was snowing like in Europe, just to create the chrismasy atmosphere, but then we would have all froze to death.

Pretty lights

Even more pretty lights you know how much carbon we're producing?

Anyway, how do we make progress without loosing our past? Sustainable progress? Maybe we should just close our eyes and become another faceless shiny bright utopian city? I don't know. I think there is no easy answer. What I do know is that I'm going ignore everything else and concentrate on the simpler pleasures of life, as so aptly demonstrated by my fellow citizen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Balmy Nights

It's warm, humid, and the noise of crickets is keeping me awake. Yup, I'm home for the holiday season. Home to me is Singapore, a tropical island somewhere near the equator. It has been a while since I've written anything here. Due to time and work constraints, I've had to prioritise my habits. Unfortunately, that means maintaining this blog has fallen to the sidelines. I'll try to make up for it as I've now got plenty of time during my holiday to write about anything under the sun.

I'll be spending Christmas and New Year here in Singapore. It'll be a nice change from staying in Bristol. A nice warm holiday does wonders for the soul when you know you've friends who will be spending this festive period freezing and shivering under the duvet :-) Moi jealous? No quite the opposite. I've not taken a major holiday since this time last year. And that was to go home too.

I did spend a week in Barcelona this August though. And that was to attend a friend's wedding. Looking back, I've had incredibly good fortune to travel all around the world to attend weddings. I've been to Alicante, Barcelona, Sicily, Montana (almost a wedding), and Calcutta just to name a few. This excludes all the weddings I've been to in Singapore and the UK.

Although I do enjoy spending time at home during this period, a part of me wants to be back in Bristol at the same time. A dear friend is just about to give birth to a baby girl within the next couple of weeks. I would very much like to be there when the baby pops out. Another good friend celebrates her big 3-0 birthday. An amazing girl I met shortly before leaving has an attractive combination of warmth, honesty and beauty..... all these and more tug at my heartstrings, often turning my thoughts to wintery Bristol.

I'm currently sipping my chilled tea as I type this. The ice cubes melt and clink together before settling down in my drink. There is no wind. The clouds look pinkish in the night sky and I hear a rumbling of thunder in a distance. It looks like it is going to rain tonight.