Singapore saga, cont.

Yesterday's blog item sets the stage for more of my "Live from Singapore" report. A governmental agency invited three of us journalists from around the world to come here, tour several factories, visit a large medical-manufacturing show, and see some sights.

Travel on the big international jets is so much more sophisticated and pleasing than flying in the continental U.S. On the flight to Singapore, the stewardesses wore what looked like a version of tranditional local costumes: a long sari-like dress that fit their slender bodes to a T. Hair is upswept; there is plently of blue eye shadow and bright red lipstick. The service is excellent: First to greet you -- hot washclothes with which to wash your hands and face. Next comes unlimited amounts of beer, wine, Singapore Slings, and plenty of other choices -- free even in "standard" class. This plane has a layover in Tokoyo on the way so during the first part of the trip, you have a choice of a Japanese meal (rice, wasabi, grilled chicken chunks, potatoe salad with caviar in it) or an American meal (mashed potatoes, beef chuncks, rolls, and butter). You even get a pair of comfortable, warm socks to put on your feet and nice light-blue blankets that are at least thicker than a piece of paper. One clever touch: hanging bassinets that attach to the wall of the bulkhead for parents with young children. It gives the brats a place to lay down or play, and this really cuts down on the amount of squalling one must endure. For some reason, the plane is full of toddlers.

After a stop in Tokoyo and six hours later, I am Singapore for a total of 23 hours flying time!! The first thing that strikes me: this place is absolutely immaculate, beautiful. The cab driver says the government is putting in a new casino. Interestingly, if you live in Singapore, you have to pay $100 to even get into a casino, while tourists and their ilk can come in for free. Sounds like a great way to capture the cash without putting your citizens in harms way for what can be a devestating addiction to some.

I am the first of the journalists to arrive, so I have about a half-day to wander at will. The breakfast bar downstairs was quite eclectic with a vaiety of foods. I am saving my exoctic food-tasting experiments for what Roopinder Tara tells me are called "hawker" stalls around the city. Breakfast for me consisted of a green salad, baked beans and, I finally got to try lychee nuts.

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