Singapore to Macau


I passed through Singapore earlier this week on my way to Macau for a company event.

Singapore still remains the same – almost. The construction of casinos appeared to be in full swing, and there was an eyesore of a ferris wheel modelled after the “London Eye”. I don’t understand why Singapore needs to copy other countries’ innovations. It has enough of its own despite being of small size. Nevertheless, it appears to believe some of its future growth could come from entertainment targeted at specific audiences rather than just leisure travel.

The other thing that has changed in Singapore is the rapid increase in real estate prices, driven by the anticipated casino-related boom by 2009, and invasion by foreigners who increasingly seem to consider Singapore as safe haven. That consideration is more or less true in my opinion. Singapore qualifies to be the Switzerland of Asia despite the lack of scenery, just in terms of its financial status and infrastructure.

I had to travel by the MRT system to reach my condominium located at a suburb, and I noticed that the system and stations are kept extremely neat, there is just no let up on the focus on cleanliness and efficiency. There were more trains available – the waiting time seems to have reduced considerably. All these observations come from a person who rarely ever used the MRT in the past except for some joy rides around the city !

I met with several old colleagues, but more about that in a separate blog post with pics, etc.,

At Macau, a city dedicated entirely to the entertainment industry, I stayed at the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, the latest hotel to adorn the city (opened less than a month ago). It is a huge hotel, with cavernous gambling halls and convention/exhibition centres. I got tired just by walking around and through the casino tables to reach the meeting rooms ! Contrary to popular perceptions on the grandeur of the hotel, I was not impressed.

One thing – the hotel is essentially a casino rather than a resort. The only thing I enjoyed was the gondola ride on the fake Venice-looking waters maneuvred by Italians. Again, I will publish the photos separately. Sorry !

I was shocked to see the crowds all through the day busily gambling – some looked very young. I was further shocked when I came down for breakfast at 7:45 AM and still saw crowds at that early hour. Unbelievable – looks like a lot of people have been seduced enough to lose their hard-earned money !

I dread to imagine what would happen in Singapore. It could not be any different. Though Singapore proclaimed that there would be no sleaze in its casinos, I did not find sleaze in this Macau Resort as well. May be it is new, but the focus appears to be on gambling and the environment rather than on the James Bond like scenes with scantily clad women hovering around the black jack tables. So if Singapore Casinos’ USP is “gambling with no sleaze and resort environment for families coming along with their gambler father or mother”, that kind of environment has already been created in Macau.

Well, that is market competition and dynamics. The same builders are also constructing Singapore’s first casino. I am against casinos in general, and used to sport a sticker “casiNO !” in my car’s back windshield during the campaign in Singapore. Why destroy good people, tempt them into spending money on what is non-essential for family happiness ?

You can expect more posts on this trip soon !

Have a good weekend,

Cheers

Vijay Srinivasan
6th October 2007

CAMP : Macau Special Administrative Region of Peoples’ Republic of China !

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