Day 1: Acronyms and Food

The day started off early with  a shower and breakfast.  The breakfast was a buffet, but it was unlike any buffet I’ve had before.  There were Asian, Japanese, British and “regular” breakfast foods available.  I made sure to at least try everything available.  All of it was good.

We met up with our guides for the week downstairs in the lobby at 9:30am.  There were three of them in jeans and red polos with a logo that said Adrenalin Events on them (I later found out that AE is a company that Contact Singapore uses to be kind of the front end relations with the program attendees).  Our guides are named Ricardo, Gary and Shirley, all native Singaporeans.

We all got on the bus and headed to our first destination: the Contact Singapore office.  The office is located high up in a skyscraper that has an awesome view of the city.  I was sure to snap some pictures in their lobby before and after the presentations.  We were first welcomed by officials of Contact Singapore and then two presentations were given.  The presentations were very informative about the different government agencies that are involved in the planning and growth of Singapore.  The two that presented were the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).  EDB and IDA are just two examples of many acronyms we’d see and hear about during our stay in Singapore.

After the presentations, we all gathered in a circle and got to know each other better with some good ol’ kindergarten techniques.  We went around the circle and said our name, where we were from, what we’re studying in school, gave an adjective that went with the first letter of our name, and told the group something interesting about ourself.  My interesting tidbit was that I know and can sing a lot of Disney songs (and that I wasn’t going to sing any on the spot right then).  Probably not the best thing to say because throughout the day it was hinted that I’d be singing by the end of the week, haha.

After getting to know each other a little bit, we headed off to lunch.  We ate at a buffet in a huge shopping center called Suntec City.  It looked as if most of it was located underground and it covered a large area.  The food that we ate was delicious.  Apparently you were supposed to get a big bowl of porridge and then sever smaller bowls of sides to put in the porridge.  Or something to that effect.  I ended up just getting a bunch of small bowls and tried as much as I could.  It was all very good.  I even got a bowl of a dessert that kind of looked like beans, but was very sweet.  It’s called Bubor Terigu and tasted delicious with some coconut milk on top.

When we were finished eating, we walked through Suntec City until we got to the Fountain of Wealth, listed as the largest fountain in the world.  Funny sidenote: right next to the fountain, back inside the shopping area was a Kenny Roger’s Roasters restaurant.  I’ve never seen one in the U.S., and I saw one in Singapore! We took pictures of the fountain as well as a group picture and then went on our way.

The next stop was the URA Center (Urban Redevelopment Authority, another acronym) to look at the Singapore City Gallery.  Inside was basically a huge exhibit about Singapore and it’s footprint, both globally and locally.  There was even a scaled model of the city center that was quite a sight to see.  Having a degree in an architecture related major made me fully appreciate all that went into the models of the skyscrapers and buildings that were in that model.  It was insane, some of the detail that was given.  There was also another scaled model of the whole island, which put a lot of things into perspective.  I took many pictures, of course.

We then got on the bus and headed to the Media Development Authority (MDA) and Fusionopolis.  There we watched a presentation that showed how Singapore is developing into a global media city.  We also had a tour through part of Fusionopolis which is basically a melding of science and technology.  We had some hands-on interaction with touchscreen tables and were shown some demos of different projects that were being worked on, one of which involved augmented reality.  They also showed us a scaled model of the local area and the future development of Fusionopolis, which will cover 19 hectares (I’m pretty sure).

Next, we got back on the bus and headed to the Marina Barrage.  From there we had a panoramic view of the cityscape and ocean because it is situated along the coast.  The barrage is basically a dam that creates a reservoir for water catchment.  Whenever it rains heavily during low tide, the barrage’s gates are opened to let excess water into the sea.  Currently it has mainly sea water, but over time the freshwater will push out all of the sea water making it a freshwater reservoir.  It’s a really impressive idea and adds greatly to Singapore’s water catchment plan to become self sufficient with regard to water supply (which currently involves importing water from Malaysia).  There was an exhibit that we walked through that explained a lot about the water supply system in Singapore.

After that, the day wasn’t over!  We still had a Contact Singapore welcome dinner at Long Beach Seafood where we’d get to eat a Singaporean delight: Chili Crab.  All in all it was an 8 course meal, filled with many things I’d never thought I’d eat like jellyfish and sea coconut.  We even ate some fish where the whole fish was on the plate, head and all.  The crab was delicious and I got to break open and eat out of the pincer.  They even gave us a bib and hand wipes, just as if we were eating ribs or lobster.  All of it was very tasty and after eating it all, I was stuffed and tired.  At our table we were having a lot of fun watching the fish in the aquarium across the room.  There was one fish that kept bullying all the others to one side of the tank.  Hopefully he’ll get eaten soon..

That was the end of a very long day filled with acronyms and food.  Sleep definitely happened that night!

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