Travels in Southeast Asia: Singapore

Greetings, race fans! I’m sitting on the front porch of a beach house at Thong Krut, on the Thai island of Koh Samui. The wind is high, but the air is fresh. It’s Sunday night here, 12 hours ahead of my friends in Texas.

What a trip. I intended to blog more frequently, but there hasn’t really been a break in the action until now. There is a LOT to tell you about, so I’m going to break it down by location. I haven’t had enough Diet Coke these last few weeks to do it in one post.

First up, Singapore! The most relevant to this blog, since it was Formula 1 weekend. Woot!

Getting to Singapore from Austin, Texas is a real barrel of laughs. First, a three-hour flight to San Francisco, then a four-hour layover, then a twelve-hour flight to Seoul, South Korea, then a one-hour layover, then a six-hour flight to Singapore. I had been under the mistaken impression that Singapore and Korea were much closer together. I mean, I know what it looks like on the map. But I didn’t really have a frame of reference for how that distance translates to hours. Answer: it translates to six. Ugh.

At some point, I became convinced that I would spend the rest of my life in Seat 31A. But Singapore Airlines serves good food, so who was I to complain?

Eventually, I folded my wings and alighted in Singapore. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to stay with friends, who had invited me to visit and attend F1, and they helped me get acclimated and showed me a bit of the city. Thank you, Erik and Christy, for your hospitality!

The Singapore F1 race is a street race, meaning it is run on actual streets in the middle of downtown Singapore. Not great for people having to navigate the closed roads, but a pretty awesome experience for the fans.

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Walking part of the track!

I was at Turn 14, approximately halfway through the course, with a view of two turns, a long straightway, and the Singapore skyline. Pretty excellent.

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Singapore is incredibly CLEAN, and the grounds around the track were impeccable, free of trash and tastefully decorated. I have to say, I am impressed with the way Singapore handles events.

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The race itself was one of the most exciting of the season, as the dominant Mercedes team struggled, opening the race up to a lot of possibilities for other drivers (I got 80% of my top ten predictions correct, thankyouverymuch). Also, Singapore is the only night race of the season, which was an incredible experience. Nothing like racing under the lights at night in downtown Singapore!

In another first for Formula 1, an allegedly drunk spectator hopped over a wall and walked right onto the track! This was quite near my grandstand – I looked over and thought, “Hey, there’s a dude on the track!” There are lots of track workers, but they would never be on the track DURING the race. Pretty soon, the race cars came whizzing by, as the guy walked along the shoulder of the track. Holy cow! I heard they later arrested the guy (which is no laughing matter in Singapore). What a moron. And I was one of the first to see!

As at all F1 races, there are a number of events and concerts surrounding the race. I got to see both Pharrell Williams and Bon Jovi, which was an added bonus.

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Pharrell

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Bon Jovi

And, to top it off, I met a very cute Aussie. Hi, Glenn! 🙂

Overall, I was very impressed with Singapore. It is lovely, clean and very safe. Once a year, it is a place for car-lovers. But it costs thousands upon thousands of dollars to actually own a car in Singapore, so almost all transportation is via taxi (be prepared to give step by step directions to the taxi driver!) or public transport.

Or you could rent one of these:

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But I couldn’t be bothered. These aren’t even last year’s model!

THIS may be the best thing ever. And by best, I mean worst.

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Oh, humanity. Even halfway across the world, you can still be ridiculous. That gives me the warm fuzzies.

Thank you, Singapore. I’ll be back!

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(You’ll want to click this panoroma photo for a great downtown view!)

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