Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chinese New Year - in style!

This being Chinese New Year, I elected to stay back and do something unusual; enjoy a weekend in Singapore. With the Chinese comprising a large percentage of the population here, the entire island seemed to be decorated for the occassion. Our Saturday night plan was to check out the fireworks in Chinatown. Sounds like a good plan, eh? Well, apparently everyone else in Singapore thought so, too. The show itself was confined to an area smaller than Olympic Plaza and was closed off by walls of buildings on every side (*hello* who's brilliant idea was it to have the show here?). By the time we arrived, which was just in time for the fireworks, about a zillion people were already there. The courtyard sized area was already over capacity and we were stuck behind a building. We could hear and smell the fireworks, but could see nothing.

Not to let a good weekend be lost, we packed it in early so that we could get up for brunch on Sunday. One of the essential stops on any proper stay in Singapore is the Sunday Champagne Brunch at Raffles (for those who don't know, Raffles is an over-the-top colonial era hotel named for the founder of the city/country). It's not cheap, but I'd say that we did our best to get our money's worth.
When the place eventually shut down, we headed to the casino - the first (legal) casino in Singapore (since the 'good old days'). It opened today. The government has developed a dual entry scheme in order to capitalize on foreign money, while discouraging gambling among citizens. That is, when you enter the building, you have to show your passport; foreigners enter for free, while locals must pay S$100 just to enter. My guess is that this is a deterent not only for locals but for some foreigners as well. When you combine this with a culture that is, by nature, more reserved than the community in vegas, the result is an empty room completely devoid of enthusiasm. As I don't gamble myself, I realise that I might be missing something; however, it would seem to me that the uninhibited enthusiasm is an essential ingredient in a successful casino. This was neither a fun place to be, nor the sort of environment in which one might get totally carried away and bet the farm. It will be interesting to see how this place does in the long term.


Blogger BikingBakke said...

you'd think they'd at least be sensible enough at business fundamentals to realize that a) building a half baked casino was a waste, or b) if the casino was to be built, don't let it be half baked.

March 22, 2010 at 12:37:00 PM MDT  

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