Report from Tomorrow - Vol 1

1USD = S$1.65 (S$1 = 0.64USD)

Introduction

Welcome to the first edition of a semi regular report on what has been happening in Singapore. I must shamelessly admit that the title of these missives, Report from Tomorrow, was shamelessly cribbed from a comment made by Tom, Mary's brother. If you'd rather not be getting these, please drop me Email and say so. I won't be offended in any way.

On January 20, 1998, our adventure began as we left New York's JFK for Singapore and arrived about 1AM on the 22nd (after some 15? hours of flying). This was our first experience with this time zone thing. Here in Singapore we are 13 hours ahead of EST, 14 ahead of CST etc. This means when I compose Email in the early AM here, you all are getting near the end of your work day. Sometimes the experience is just weird.

Anyway, back to the airport, where we had a taxi waiting for us (thanks to the bank here), which we filled to overflowing with our six bags + carryons. We spent alot of energy trying to figure out what to bring and then how to get it here. In the end it was cheapest and actually easiest to just pay a couple hundred dollars for extra baggage on the NorthWest flight.

The taxi delivered us to the Merchant Court hotel in downtown Singapore which was to be our home for the next 10 days as it turned out. Good thing they were having an introductory special and it only cost us S$175 a night. All on our penny too. Oh well, it's only money.

The ensuing next few days were spent in getting on board at the bank (United Overseas Bank) and looking at apartments. We decided on a place in pretty short order, but could not get in before the Chinese New Year and then the Muslim New Year descended on Singapore and closed down everything for 3+ days. So it took us 4-5 days longer to actually get in a place than we had expected.

First Impressions

It's plenty warm here. The temperature doesn't vary alot - lows in the 70s, highs in the mid 80s or so, but the humidity must be something close to the same numbers. We were told that January is the really nice weather period and after getting a few periods of really humid weather recently, I can see what they mean. Think of the humid dog-days-of-August and you know what it's like.

Everything here is very modern and they seem to be in a continual mode of rebuilding everything. Housing tracts that were only built in the 1950s are being torn down to be replaced. It is an astonishing clean, well ordered and polite society. The public transportation system is very much like London, only on a smaller scale with a subway (called the MRT), extensive bus system and a million taxis (except when it's raining).

We've always wanted the experience of living in a large city and it seems Singapore is one of the very best we could have picked. It's not as crowded as I had expected - I think I was biased with images of "packers" jamming people onto the subway in Japan. Nonetheless, it can get crowded on the MRT if you travel at the wrong time (8:50AM where we live is a crusher), and every single person in Singapore seems to go shopping from 1PM until 7PM on Saturday and Sunday - sort of like Christmas shopping every weekend. I keep thinking, "Surely, they'll find what they want and stay home some time", but there's no evidence thus far.

Geography

Singapore is a diamond shaped island of something like 12x26 miles or so and has something more than 3 million residents. Singapore at the tip if Malaysia, not very var from Thailand and Cambodia to the north and Sumatra and Java (parts of Indonesia) to the south. We've found we are dreadfully ignorant of Asia in general. We'll hear a well known name, like Ankor Wat, and then not have a clue which country it's in (Cambodia, not Thailand as I thought :-).

The population is 80% Chinese, 12% Indian, 2-3% Arab and then a good dose of ex-pats (English of various flavors (Australia, England, Scots, Americans etc) as well as French and Germans etc.).

Housing

The cost of living for us is more expensive than in Ann Arbor (which is pretty pricey for America), but not extravagant. Hong Kong, I'm told, is way beyond Singapore and Japan is out of sight. I was told one apple costs S$14 in Japan. So Singapore looks pretty good! Transportation is very cheap (taxi rides are in the S$3-5 range). The MRT (subway) is less than S$1 for most places and buses are slightly less. The price of housing has been dropping with the glut of condos built. Furnished apartments are S$3000-5000/month or so (2-3 BR). I heard of one house for S$17000/month (including servants quarters). We passed that one up.

Conclusion

The short of it is that we are settled in well now. We are starting to meet people and getting a feel for the place. I'm working on more notes, so, with luck, these little missives will come pretty regular for the next few weeks.

We'd be pleased to hear from you, but Email to tpg@hps.com or mugsemail@hps.com or even send conventional mail at:

Terry & Mary Gliedt
370G Alexandra Road
#07-08 The Anchorage
Singapore 159960
Phone: (65) 476-3244 (we are 13 hours AHEAD of EST, 14 for CST)