I was debating with myself whether I’d write something about my recent Singapore trip, if it’s relevant for this blog or not and the like.
Then I thought, ah screw it. Relevance, schmelevance.
It wasn’t a vacation.
I don’t like vacations, or outings, or retreats. In the past decade, I’ve never had an instance where I went out of the metro for the purpose of leisure or recreation that I enjoyed thoroughly.
It’s not like I hate nature or seeing new places. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. As a former boy scout, I’m typically the guy who appreciates nature more, and the guy who isn’t afraid of getting lost. I also have just enough street smarts to blend in whenever I go to a new place.
It’s just that whatever I do, I always end up being disappointed in those trips. The places may be too tame compared to the camp sites I’ve been at in my youth. The people that are supposed to be drunk refuse to drink, or the people who aren’t supposed to be drunk get waaay too hammered than I’d like. And so on…
Oh and yeah, there’s that thing about being either ignored, burned, or plainly rejected by every girl I like in every freaking outing that I had in the past few years.
So yeah, at this point in my life I’ve already given up on vacations and romance.
And so what I had last week wasn’t a vacation: it was a business trip.
What business did I have in Singapore? Only two things:
- Help establish the Filipino presence in the conference, and
- Familiarize myself with Singapore enough to discourage me from working there.
The first part was obviously taken care of by the Pecha Kucha I discussed in the previous post. As some of the other PhRUGies have noted, I should’ve went for a full talk as my 6 minute 40 second presentation was much better than some of the main talks in the conference. Oh well, maybe next year.
I didn’t really care about the networking as I’m still not interested in working full time and there were other PhRUGies who were a much better fit for that job.
I did get my Pragmatic Programmer signed, though.
The second part was a bit easier. All I had to do was simulate what it would my weekends be like if I would work in Singapore. The goal was to see if doing so would be worth it.
I rode the trains and visited around 90% of the MRT stations. Tourist attractions were out of the question so I limited myself to the malls, seeing the famous “geek” shops and places (the only places relevant to my interests).
Honestly, I was disappointed. Aside from the fast internet and the good food, the place was about as boring as my bedroom.
I was supposed to buy some piece of technology there; a memento of the cheap prices for low-taxed goods. In the end, I only bought stuff that I can’t buy in the Philippines.
For everything else, you could buy it here for much less. You can get cheap tech thanks to sites like TipidPC and TipidCP, and you can get Asian pop-culture merchandise delivered for free via YesAsia. It’s a far cry when I went to Hong Kong 5 years ago and enjoyed seeing hard to find stuff that were not only available, but also sold for much less than what you’d get here.
Speaking of Hong Kong, there are a bunch of parallels between the two trips.
Holy week fell in the midst of my Hong Kong trip. My Singapore trip fell in the midst of holy week.
I went to Hong Kong as a developer but did not code (I did profiling stuff at the production environment). I went to Singapore not as a developer but I coded in a programming contest.
I never took the main train lines in Hong Kong. I took all MRT trains in Singapore.
In Hong Kong, I took the Airport Express train and a taxi to the staff house from the airport, and took a bus from the staff house to the airport.
In Singapore, I took an Airport Shuttle service to the hotel, and took a train from the hotel to the airport.
In Hong Kong, everything “official” (food, transpo) was subsidized. In Singapore, I paid it all by myself.
In Hong Kong, I converted peso bills at a bank. In Singapore, I used my ATM cards to withdraw money.
I accidentally saw the final episodes of Monster, an acclaimed anime series, Chinese dubbed on public TV in the middle of the night in Hong Kong.
I forced myself awake to download the final episodes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, an over-hyped anime series, English fansubbed in the middle of the night (between day 1 and 2 of the conf!) in Singapore.
In Hong Kong, I cared about the people back in the Philippines, working hard and even bringing home pasalubong. In Singapore, I didn’t give a flying fuck about anyone.
If years of kindness and self-sacrifice couldn’t even get me something as simple as free lodging, why should I remain as nice and naive as I was back then?
I can’t really say which is better between the two places. Singapore’s multicultural society meant that the people were nicer and had better English. Singaporean-ized Chinese food also tastes better IMHO than authentic Chinese food.
Hong Kong, on the other hand, had cooler weather and had more interesting sights. But it’s hard to like the place when your memories of it involved you being smack dab in the middle of a career/mental breakdown.
And that’s 2 places relegated to “I’m okay with short business trips but I won’t work there”. As a veteran otaku, I’m already disillusioned with Japan so that leaves Australia and maybe South Korea.
Just a couple more before I’m totally committed to spending my days turning this shithole of a country to something that would rival those “utopias”.