Day 2: Merlion, Housing, and Sunwoo

The day started off with a tour of the City Center.  We first looked at a statue of Stamford Raffles, known as the “Father of Singapore.”  The statue stands along the river with huge skyscrapers in the background.  It was cool to see where Singapore started and where it is today in one view.  We walked along, stopping at various places to take pictures and learn about some of the landmarks.  We made our way over to the Merlion, one of the symbols of Singapore and definite tourist stop.  It’s a huge statue of what is basically a lion mixed with a fish.  Wikipedia describes it well:

The Merlion Malay: Singa-Laut; is an imaginary creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. Its name combines “mer” meaning the sea and “lion.” The fish body comes from Singapore’s ancient name back when it was a fishing village — Temasik — meaning “sea town” in Javanese. The lion head represents Singapore’s original name — Singapura — meaning “lion city” or “kota singa.”

We took pictures there and also had another good panoramic view of the city and the marina bay.  We walked further to the Esplanade which is a theater building with a very interesting shell.  The exterior looks like a spiny blob and is inspired by a local fruit called a durian.  After that we walked to the Memorial to the Civilian Victims of the Japanese Occupation.  It’s a tall spire with 4 parts symbolizing the 4 different types of people in Singapore: Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, and Eurasians.

For lunch, we headed off to a place that served what’s called Chicken Rice.  It’s basically rice that’s been cooked in a kind of chicken broth and served with steamed chicken on the side.  The rice was really tasty and there was this black sauce you could put on it that made it taste even better!  The chicken on the side was very different because it was served cold, something new to me and pretty much everyone at the table.  Nonetheless, it still tasted good and fit well with the rice.

After lunch, we were taken to see the different types of HDA (Housing Development Authority) flats to get a sense of where Singaporeans live.  The housing extends outward from the city in high-rise communities, the further out you go, the newer the housing.  We first visited some of the earliest HDA (1st generation) and had dessert in one of the market areas.  We all got to try something with the famous (or depending how you like it, infamous) durian fruit.  I actually liked it and it seemed like everyone else enjoyed it, much to the surprise of our guides.  Then again, what we had was probably very little compared to the full experience of eating it straight.  Once we finished our desserts, all of which looked weird but tasted good, we were shown 3rd generation HDA housing and then 2nd generation HDA housing.  That stop was actually at our main guide Ricardo’s parent’s place, where he’s currently living.  We didn’t go inside, but we went up to the balcony where his front door was.  It was quite interesting to see how the government housing is placed and the communities that surround them.  It doesn’t have the same connotation that “the projects” has in the States.  This is how Singaporeans live and it’s different on another scale.

Next we went to Sunwoo Asia Pacific which is a Korean studio.  They showed us around their studio which they apparently just moved into last Friday.  It was nice and there were about 10 people working on what looked to be backgrounds.  They can produce about an episode a week in tandem with their Korean studio.  They told us about what is going on with their company and how they fit into the industry.  The visit wasn’t anything fully structured as far as a presentation, but they were very informative and answered any questions we had.

That concluded the day’s itinerary and a group of us decided to go out for dinner.  So we changed/freshened up at the hotel and then walked down the street to Clarke Quay to find some food.  We ended up eating at an Irish pub of all places.  But the food was good and we had a good time together.  Afterward we checked out the mall across the street called Central.  After spending about an hour there, we called it a night.  Before we left, I took the opportunity to take some more night snapshots and in the process ended up sitting in some water in the darkness and getting my shorts wet.  So the entire way walking back I was paranoid as to what my butt looked like, haha.  I washed them out in the sink when I got back to the hotel.  Aside from that, it was a great second day!

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