Mentom - Singapore 2012

© Mentom – May 2012


Rainy times

Sunday 8 March 2009, by Mentom

All the versions of this article:

  • English

After the endless sunny days in December and January now finally the rainy season started. Punctually at 3pm the skies open and Singapore gets flooded. Nothing to do except watching the grey clouds emptying their load over the jungle.

It seems the global crisis now finally made its entry in Asia too. Instead of travel destinations and latest technical gadgets now the talks are about cost cutting, travel bans and bill restrictions. The fancy bank towers in the Central Business District are looking a bit out of place. When asked a question by an RBS representative during a press conference, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew exclaimed: "Royal Bank of Scotland?! You are still....?!"

When times are tough like this, it is good to have hobbies that are still cheap.. or even better free. Getting up at 7am on a Sunday is still not subject to fees, and so I did last weekend on Sentosa Island, just in the right time before the beaches get crowded and the "i-cook-you-alive" sun comes up. Plenty of time to meditate about the financial crisis on a 7km run, while enjoying the green path and the nice petrol tankers out in the sea, harmonically filling the horizon with their black and red bodies.

Sentosa is Singapore’s leasure island, with some relatively nice (although artificial) beaches and plenty of tourist attractions and distractions. Every weekend crowds of Singaporeans and tourists on-the-way-to-somewhere populate this island and make your solitary run experience turn into a psychological crisis when you have to slalom between "beach trams" and diverse volleyball teams with their accessoires.

Once done with the 3km beach strip, I bumped into a protected fence leading to "Sentosa Cove". The half-torn down advertisement explains that the "most desired location in the world" was laying right behind this fence. Wow. Curious about this, I decided to explore this mythical place.

According to Wikipedia, Sentosa Cove is a residential enclave in the East of Sentosa Island, eventually housing about 2,500 units when fully developed. Largely made-up of reclaimed land, it is being marketed as a "exclusive oceanfront residential community" and the "only true seafront residential property" in Singapore. About 60% of the buyers are foreign.

After some struggle to find the road to Sentosa Cove, i walked about two kilometres until finally reaching some sort of checkpoint which was the only entry. Right after the checkpoint I entered the planet. The artificial harbour is surrounded by exclusive condominiums still under construction, but already filled with exclusive yachts, just like your parking lots between residential blocks are filled with cars. As the Sentosa advertisement site says: "A tough choice: Lay by the waterway or dine by the guayside". Yeah, if they say so.

A disturbing fact after some walking-around: the lack of people. So far I could only make out construction workers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, sleeping and reading newspapers in the half-completed buildings.

From the harbour to the sea: the petrol tankers seem not be allowed to anchor in front of Sentosa Cove and just appear as ghost-like silhouettes in the sea.

Most of the bungalows are "under construction", and if not, then they are empty. The "construction" process looks very curious: one worker hammering on a single nail of the bungalow, while three others watch him, possibly they make sure he’s not getting hurt. Some other’s are having their take-away lunch, are reading, cycling and hanging around in-between the multi-million dollar phantom condos. Or just sleeping in the midst of the designer alleys and promenades.

Who wants a house in the Ocean Drive? "Ping. The sweet sound of success." advertises the golf club of Sentosa Cove. Just opposite the stagnating constructions and the first signs of deterioration in the "most desired place in the world".

The world’s busiest port of Singapore rumbles nearby when the containership’s get unloaded. Singapore trade fell as much as 34.8 percent from a year early as Singapore exports had its biggest drop in 22 years according to Bloomberg (Singapore BlogSpot).

Time to get under a roof before the rain starts again.

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