Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 6 - Yesterday, which has been somewhat forgotten in the face of today.

What even happened yesterday? The blog is generally about a day behind it seems, and the events of the day can easily overwhelm the events of the day before. Stay in suspense for Day was a crazy one.

As for Day 6, we began with a walk up to NUS to hear presentations from the MEM students in the Design and Environment program on how to transform a landfill into a new usable space. These were some quite impressive students with some very innovative ideas. If one can judge the quality of planning in Singapore from its masters students, one would conclude that they are on top of all the issues and are developing little genius ideas for engineering the perfect island city and that the result will be a meticulous, well-sculpted, well-integrated, captivating, vitalized, and aesthetically pleasing place. They are thinking ahead of the curve environmentally with biogas facilities, roof gardens, phytoremediation, etc, etc. One student from Europe did express frustration that in Singapore, there is very little history/memory/personality/animus in the architecture and planning, that it's sort of sterile and most buildings don't last longer than a couple decades because they get knocked down and replaced with newer, more efficient ones. An interesting trade-off. Singapore has made many such decisions that are culturally impossible in the US.

The afternoon may appear somewhat boring from the blog-reader's perspective. Some people went out and explored more of the city, but others of us focused on the master's project. You can almost smell the panic in the air when a CEM student is in the room.

Fortunately, evening was a relief. I should figure out what the undergrads are doing so I can report their doings as well, but I can only speak for the grad students for last night. We headed down to some Quay or other (there seem to be endless Quays in S'pore, or at least what are referred to as Quays, the only boats operating anymore seem to be tour boats) found a famous food court, had a couple pitchers of Tiger (pretty much THE local beer), and coerced Annabelle into ordering all the cool uniquely Singaporean foods.
(Let me explains something about the food courts here. They are much better than US food courts. There are way more food sellers with way higher quality food. They often serve you at your table. Sellers may try to force you to eat food from their establishment. There are more options albeit mostly asian. They serve beer. They are can get a huge meal for $3 US. People are always eating at the food courts. They are awesome.)

The foods we had were: carrot cake (not like any carrot cake you've ever had--several other vegetables and kind of a casserole/saute more than a cake; don't ask me why the call it cake), stingray (with delicious chilli sauce), duck and chicken satay, some saucy chicken w/ bok choy, this crazy stir fry of a million things, and then some decidedly not-American desserts, some of which were very good, many of which involved coconut milk, and none of which I can remember the exact names of or describe.

After this enriching and delicious cultural experience of which I want many more of, a few of us walked over to the Esplanade for a punk/alternative rock concert featuring 3 very awkward bands from Thailand, Manila, and Singapore. And when I say awkward, I mean that these were the most unsmooth, uncool, stumbling, stuttering, and goofy rock stars you can imagine. The music was actually quite awesome, but they desperately needed lessons in stage presence (with the exception of the keyboardist/vocalist in the closer who wore exceptionally tight, brilliant gold pants that threw Jennie Dean into fits of both laughter and awe). For a pleasant addition to your playlists, I recommend that everyone go out and listen to Southeast Asian punk/alt rock and, if you're in for some comedy, watch some music videos.


  1. I thought you guys were going to take turns posting? Did you get the short end of the stick, Mike? Don't get me wrong, I love your posts. Sounds like an amazing time, and great to hear about all of your adventures. This is great for MP procrastination! Keep 'em coming!

  2. Here's a list of what we ate that night:
    carrot cake (carrot = white radish/turnip)
    char kway teow (fried flat noodle in black sauce)
    sambal stingray
    rojak (mixture of cucumber, turnip, fried tofu, fried dough and pineapple in a shrimp paste-peanut sauce)
    chicken rice

    for the desserts:
    soursop (which is a fruit) ice (as in shaved ice)

    things that are still worth trying:
    nasi lemak
    prawn noodles (uh, it's probably unsustainably caught prawns though)
    and a hundred and one other desserts.