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Sunday, October 4, 2015

GAWA Day #19: Singapore in Crisis

Singapore is a successful and stable country.  However, they are in the midst of an annual crisis:  AIR POLLUTION.  

This problem has been occurring since the early 1970's when illegal agricultural fires in Indonesia during the dry season spread a deadly haze throughout Southeast Asia.  How can this happen?  Well, it is cheaper and faster to burn rather than cut and slash to provide lands for palm oil and other crops.  And the government wishes not to do much about that.

Finally, the new administration of President Joko Widodo has initiated steps to enforce the existing laws.  However, it might take three years for much to happen.  No help for me, as I leave in two days.

There is something called the Air Quality Index, where anything higher than 100 is considered to be unhealthy, with 300+ as hazardous.  It is around 100 today in Singapore and very hazy.  The air is so polluted in parts of Indonesia that measurements of 2000 occur.

Athletic events have been cancelled and I'm afraid to leave my hotel room.  A whole section of the Strait Times today provided solutions to the crisis, mainly, how NOT to breath in the pollution.  People wear N95 face masks, the 95% indicating that 5% of the pollution still gets into your lungs.  When purchased in bulk, they are about a buck each.  Some, however, spend as much as S$39 ($27 U.S.) for a mask that provides an exhale valve.  Homes also use air conditioners with air purifiers, the latter can cost up to $1000

You would think everyone walking around is wearing a mask, right?  Nope.  Here is the crowd on Orchard Road their shopping avenue:


You don't see even one mask, but you do notice a Pizza Hut.  Some cute glass bears:


The Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is super efficient and you can't get lost, something novel for me.  Here, too, everyone uses smart phones:


Note also the informality and ethnic mix.

I decided to stroll around the Marina Bay Sands shopping area, and seriously considered the food court where a dozen kinds of Chinese food from various provinces were featured.


However, there was a swarm of people and nowhere to sit.  So I decided to try to find a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet.  Walking back to the MTR, I noticed this:


Hmm...Japanese-Italian fusion.  So in I went.  The place looked fancy and sits 60.  I think I was the only customer until a couple of others came half an hour later.  I ordered their super lunch special plus a Prosecco for about $100.  Frankly, the cuisine was excellent, beginning with a Japanese omelette and salmon with caviar:


Next, a mushroom, foie gras and truffle soup:


Liked it.  However, the entre blared Kobe wagyu beef, and misrepresented the reality, for this slice came from Australia:


There was no marbling, the quality was similar to a good American or European cut, and, actually, tasted great.  The dessert was okay:


I haven't yet had Singaporean food, but there is still tomorrow.

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