Stephen Young


Singapore - Getting Adjusted

As of yesterday I have been in Singapore for two weeks; it's been a mix of tropical excitement, school administration and sunburns. After arriving from Tokyo I met up with Andrew D'Souza and taxied over my school (Nanyang Technological University) on the far west side of Singapore island - from one end to the other it's about a 45min trip. We spent the next week or so we moved into residence, met roommates, and spent ohh so much effort trying to get classes, schedules and credits sorted out. My roommate (who has actually just moved) out is a local Chinese Singaporean who studies electronics engineering. Most of the other exchange students are paired with exchange roommates, but I figured I see what it was like living with someone else. I was a bit nervous, but he turned out to be a really nice guy, and although he's moving back home (hopefully not because of me...) I think since I was living with a local student it's helped me to meet other local students who live nearby.
Singapore, a country barely the size of Toronto, is easy enough to travel through and site see. In our two weeks here, Bernice, Drew, Phil and I have seen most of the recommended places on the island, except for Sentosa - a man made beach just off Singapore's "coast". We tried to make take a trip down but it was raining. Food is generally fantastically inexpensive - in our canteen on campus an average meal costs about $2.50 Singapore dollars ($1CDN = $1.3SGD) and is a reasonable portion. Once you venture off campus everything gets a little more expensive, but it depends on the neighborhood.

Last Thursday our hall (residence) organized a trip out to a local nightclub called Ministry and Sound. It was a good time, starting off with a fashion show of all things. Generally speaking I'm the tallest person anywhere I go... but there are certainly exceptions. Drinks at bars and clubs are incredible expensive, ranging from $8 - $15 for a glass, especially when compared to food. I think the idea is to feed the population, but keep the sober : )

This past weekend the UW NTU SYDE team (me, Phil, Bernice, Drew) plus Cat (a civil engineering at NUS) went on a weekend trip to Malaysia. We bused up from Singapore, crossing the bridge which connects the two countries. Malaysia stretches north from Singapore meeting up with Thailand above. Our first stop was in a southern city called Melaka - a classical port town which was the centre of a trading hub during the days of England's East Indian Trading Company. The city was a nice introduction to a nice country. We walked through most of the city, which seemed to be quite a popular tourist area. We visited one interesting themed museum full of everything the Malaysia custom officials have confiscated from people smuggling over the border.
The next day we left Melaka in search of a nearby beach town called Tanjung Kling. Apparently in the high season (non-rainy season) it is a popular tourist destination, full of beachside resorts and eateries. This weekend we had the whole place to ourselves - plus the pleasant, laid back locals who spend the hot afternoons relaxing around town.
The beaches, although virtually empty, we very pleasant and we enjoyed a sunset like no other I've seen. The next day we headed off for Kuala Lumpur (the capital city of Malaysia). Malaysia is an interesting blend of old and modern, with palm trees and villages bordering new age skyscrapers and a booming economy.
Particularly impressive are the Petronas Towers - the tallest twin towers in the world. We tried to get a tour on the skylink connecting them on te 42nd floor, but tickets were sold out.
Sunday night we went out for dinner (on what happened to be my birthday!) at a very nice Chinese restaurant. The service, food and atmosphere was fantastic... and all for a cost less than $10 per person - definitely our most expensive meal. Afterwards we boarded a bus back for Singapore, arriving around 4AM and spent two hours learning to play majong and waiting for the subway to start running.

That's all for now! Next weekend promises to be another exciting trip somewhere (and a long weekend... since we have no classes on friday!).



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