Singapore Visa Run
Just returned from a visa run to Singapore. Decided to take the Mrs. along as we are set to move there soon and I wanted her to see what the place was like.
I used to draw comparisons between Singapore and Bangkok, mainly because I was getting hacked off with life here and was just having a moan, but I have realised that Singapore is light years ahead and therefore it is pointless really to compare everyday issues. Also it is probably not appropriate to compare an island state with a country the size of Thailand. However there are some issues that make the trip for the typical tourist more enjoyable: a) no scams at the airport or on any other occasion during the stay, b) the air-con in the airport actually cools the place down, c) the taxi will go where instructed on the meter and doesn't smell like a kennel, d) the chances of twisting or breaking an ankle on the pavement is zero, e) zebra crossings can be used without having to break an Olympic record or waiting for a traffic standstill in order to cross and most importantly, f) the police don't sit in a box at each junction creating havoc, because we are living in 2008 and there are computers to do that sort of thing now.
I am not slagging off Bangkok because it is certainly more interesting and intriguing than Singapore even excluding the flesh trade. I think I have just got to that stage when quality of life is more important and the endless nonsense, not just political, has got to me.
In addition to the Sands casino currently being built in Marina Bay in Singapore there is another casino under development on Sentosa island. They have built a new skytrain across the island before installing the foundations of the casino. Obviously such planning involved the coordination of the government departments, developers, consultants etc. Can you imagine that happening here? No chance, everyone just does their own thing.
OK I'm starting to moan again. Can't help it.
The main thing that hit me during the trip is the incredible progress that Singapore has made since I was working there in 2004 and is still making. There is a vibrance about the place, tourists everywhere, hotels, bars and restaurants packed and serious money flowing in.
About five years ago I could confirm that the service in Bangkok was better. This has totally changed, the service in Singapore is far far better now. Most of the waiters, waitresses and receptionists are from the Philippines and they are brilliant. OK to be fair they have the advantage of being more capable in the English language but they just seemed to put in that bit more effort and / or be better trained. <Good point this about training. It is something which Thai businesses spend previous little time on – Stick>
Sitting outside the Penny Black on Boat Quay on the last night the Mrs. asked why Thailand hasn't "done anything new". She's right, there is a bungy jump/swing on Clark Quay, recently the F1 has come to town, they now have the world's largest observation wheel, casino/entertainment resorts are springing up and construction is booming. In my opinion Thailand has just relied on its beaches and islands and has stalled. Yes hotels and resorts have sprung up everywhere but that's hardly an attraction and in fact most beaches have been ruined or have become unsightly by these developments. I remember visiting a beach between Karon beach and Patong back in 1998 with a mate on a trip from Hong Kong. Paradise, only four people on it, no bars or restaurants and no hotels. Saw it two years ago and you could not see the beach for high rise monstrosities. So gradually, uncontrolled by greed, Thailand's beaches and islands are going to become eyesores. I went to Koh Samui recently. Difficult to actually find access to Chaweng beach because they have packed the hotels in. The most unfriendly people I have ever met and most of the island, well the most sought after areas, are just construction sites. Yeah, and the 200-300 baht standard taxi fare (taxi has a meter sign on the roof!) just about sums up the place.
So it hasn't really put much money back into the tourist industry. Basically it is only hotels and resorts that have been built. There have been a few 'amusement' parks built. I have only been to a few around Thailand and quite frankly couldn't wait to get out. Either the animals looked totally depressed or the 'rides' were life threatening. Remember the recent incident at one park in Bangkok? We went on the Singapore Flyer during our trip, that's the observation wheel I mentioned, and the Mrs. said "In Thailand this would be very dangerous".
Right enough moaning. The main impression that the recent trip had on me and even more so on the Mrs., was that Thailand is not only falling behind other countries rapidly but is actually in danger of permanently destroying its reputation and record as being a popular tourist destination.
I don't know the answer for this place. We all scream for democracy but the fact is that democracy as we westerners know is not working here. Singapore is not democratic but a system has evolved whereby people who are actually competent in running a country are running it, and it works perfectly. Singaporeans have a fantastic standard of living and are therefore quite happy to keep their mouths shut. People are content. Maybe the PAD's 'new politics' might be a way forward if it was properly thought out and presented to the nation in a coherent manner and by someone who could actually capture the attention and respect of people.
On a lighter note, during the F1 weekend (not with the Mrs.) I popped outside the four floors of whores for a ciggy and saw the most gorgeous thing I have seen in ages, and what a figure. The 'vision' made eye contact with me and said "Hi" in a voice deeper than mine. After all these years how the eyes can be misled.
Also is Thailand really that cheap? Let's put the male 'cost of living computer' to work. In Chinatown in Singapore I had a large bottle of Tiger (about a pint) in a restaurant and it cost SG$7.50 which is around 180 baht. This was in a very touristy place as well. That isn't expensive and there are no tips expected.
Just a thought, the going rate in the four floors is SG$200 so I'm told. That's 4,800 baht. Not so different to here is it after bar fines, drinks and the ever increasing 'fee'.
I said I wouldn't make comparisons but couldn't resist it.
On the bar girl subject, it amuses me when people complain about the short time / long time issue and payment. Why would you opt for long time if it was the first time with the girl? Firstly she doesn't like you and she might be about as enthusiastic in bed as a blow up doll or turn out to be a total nightmare. Surely short time is the best bet until a reliable regular is found. Also nine times out of ten she is going to be very disappointing to the eyes in the morning and will probably make those disgusting throat cleansing noises in the shower. Neither arrangement particularly attracts me.
Sorry the above is a bit disjointed, talking about one issue in this place just sparks off another.
Thailand does have a lot to worry about and the points you make are being made by more and more…