Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 3 -scroll down for Day 4-

The third day was spent largely at the National University of Singapore (NUS) with faculty at the School of Design and Environment. After a tasty breakfast of the same eggs & hot dogs (or as the ever delightful Pasir Panjang Inn describes them, ‘sausages’) as the previous couple days, we hiked for ~45min through the early morning sweltering heat to a talk from N. Sivasothi, aka Sivas aka Otterman, who gave us a great talk on environmental action and activism in Singapore. In short, he’s pretty awesome, if a little crazy. Apparently, the first prime minister and basically the father of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew, really likes the environment and had tons of progressive policies featuring green ideals. So when Singapore became independent in the 1960s and was very poor and basically screwed, he fostered economic development that catapulted Singapore from developing nation to developed nation in just 30 or so years, but did not leave out the environment. There are still some problems: as good as Singapore is at all things terrestrial…they really don’t know or seem to care about marine issues. Maybe that’s where we come in.

After the lecture and a brief stroll through the natural history museum, we had lunch at a university food court (soup, muslim noodles, chicken wings, wantons = $2.20 singapore = $1.50 US = holy moly that’s cheap food) and then got some groceries.

The afternoon was spent with Professor Lye, who is a law professor at NUS. She was also awesome; and despite studying in the US and the UK, she’s very Singaporean and very proud of her country’s accomplishments. I must admit I came away impressed. They basically built a highly prosperous, highly organized, highly educated, highly healthy, highly egalitarian, and highly safe country in a highly hot climate in a highly short amount of time. It is highly illegal however to get high (possession of 20 grams of drugs = death by hanging; no joke). The main 2 things Professor Lye took issue with were that Singapore doesn’t have an environmental impact assessment law and they don’t have good marine laws. Other than that, the country is perfect. Haha, just kidding, they also are scared of bugs and dogs, even the soldiers.

I can’t speak for what everyone else did then (though I’ve heard rumors of Master’s Project work and some form of debauchery in a playground), but a few of us took the metro down to the Esplanade at sunset and saw some awesome sights like the concert hall, the national day celebration spot, the water-spouting mer-lion, and the glorious spaceship supreme court building. Then we walked along the Singapore river among giant skyscrapers and through the Boat Quay area which used to be the site of all the port and warehouse bustle, but is now an active restaurant and nightlife scene. We were accosted left and right by people trying to force us to eat at their establishments. After running the gauntlet several times, we settled on the multi-restaurant with the best deal (free first round of drinks and 20% off everything else). More walking on the river, some ice cream (even at 10pm, still hot…think 1 degree North), headed back to the hotel, and then collapsed due to severe case of jet lag. Which is also why that last sentence was a fragment. And why I’m passing out now.

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