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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

CHAPTER 22: Pearl's Ashes--Singapore

I made a major boo-boo last Wednesday.  I skipped Singapore, which came before Sydney.  Anyway, I made the necessary adjustments, and you can now read CHAPTER 23:  Pearl's Ashes--Sydney, as brought up-to-date, if you wish.  Today, I repeat CHAPTER 22 as Singapore.  Should you wish to read about the details of my stopover there in 2012, start with THE MIRACLE CALLED SINGAPORE.

Singapore, to the surprise of most, actually has 63 islands, but only a grand total of 274 square miles, and is slightly larger than Molokai.  How did this backwater British colony become a society where one in  six households is now in the category of being millionaires.  Perhaps emblematic, unlike Hawaii, Singapore is said to be the easiest place in the world to do business.  But that was in 2012.  Today?  New Zealand, my focus next Wednesday for Pearl's Ashes, is #1, but Singapore is #2,  Denmark #3 and the USA #8.

How Singapore pulled off a seeming miracle can largely be linked to one of the finest benevolent dictators of all time:  Lee Kuan Yew.  He graduated from Cambridge and became a lawyer who served as prime minister from 1959 to 1990, the longest serving leader of any government ever.  Queen Elizabeth II has reigned since 1952, but she doesn't run the country.  His son replaced him and Kuan Yew passed away in 2015.

To quote from that above-mentioned 2012 posting:

Remember the concern in Korea (1.28) and Japan (1.37) about fertility rate (FR)?  Singapore is 0.78!

Today (FR):
  • 224  Singapore     0.82
  • 223  Macau           0.94
  • 222  Taiwan          1.12
  • 220  S. Korea        1.25
  • 210  Japan            1.41
  • 182  China            1.60
  • 142  USA              1.87
  •   10  Afghanistan  5.22
  •     4  Somalia        5.89
  •     1  Niger             6.62
Five years ago, 40% of citizens were foreigners.  Today?  64%.  They were #26 on the UN Human Development Index in 2012 and jumped all the way up to #5 in 2016.  Amazing!  The USA?  Dropped from #4 to #10.  And this slide cannot be blamed to Donald Trump.

I thought they had an exceptional educational system, but, apparently not, for Finland is #1, Japan #2 and South Korea #3.  Singapore is #15 and the USA #20.  Are you getting at least a bit concerned that something bad is happening?

Then, maybe it's just plain IQ to explain their success, for Singapore is tied with Hong at #1 with average IQs of 108.  South Korea is #2 at 106, Japan and China #3 at 105 and the USA #9 at 98.  There are 30 countries smarter than the U.S., for the ranking system is a bit odd by counting ties as one number.

So, anyway, I dropped off Pearl's Ashes #38 at their Gardens By the Bay, which had just opened.  The location was at this point close to the Marina Bay Sands, where I had stayed the year before.  Planners want to transition Singapore from a mere progressive city into a garden.  Thus, this exhibit is symbolic of what life will be in in the future.

I earlier showed you their future airport.  Scheduled to open next year as a pronounced upgrade,  Changi Airport has already been #1 in the world for five straight years.  Singapore Airlines, however, has become a bit too elitist, reflecting the general attitudes in the country.

Yes, I know this e-book is about ash ceremonies, and I have been almost negligent about the ritual and sanctity aspects of this obligation.  However, as I mellowed into living life my way, I had long ago decide that in the remaining years of my existence, I would maximize pleasure when possible.  As I'm not into skydiving nor surfing nor charitable compassion nor active remonstrations about saving Planet Earth, I tended to splurge on Michelin 3-Star and Pellegrino best 100 restaurants.  In my limited Singapore stay, I dined well.

When Pearl and I were here a couple of decades ago, this was already popularly known as the Garden City.  One of our stops then was to Sydney, Australia, where we went to Tetsuya, one of the first high-class Japanese restaurants in the world.  This was in the late '80's.   Wakuda Tetsuya opened a second restaurant, this one in the Singapore Marina Bay Sands.  Called Waku Ghin, this is now Asia's 6th best restaurant.  I show here just one dish:  Oscietra caviar on sea urchin.  Abalone, wagyu beef, three kinds of wine and more.  Decadent.

Restaurant Andre is #14 on Pellegrino's World list, and #2 to Gaggan (Bangkok).  This was his salad.  I specifically compared Andre with Alex Atala of DOM.  I just attended Chef Atala's special dinner in Honolulu less than a month ago.  I should ask the Culinary Institute of the Pacific to seek Andre Chiang next.

Maybe the highlight was my dinner with Elizabeth and Al Yee at Iggy's.  Something must have happened during these past five years as it was #26 on Pellegrino's world's best, but now not even in the Asia Top 50.  It did not even gain a Michelin star.  Andre earned 2 stars and Waku Ghin one.  But thinking back, I did rate Iggy's behind the other two.  Anyway, the company was fabulous, especially as they paid for the meal.  Al is helping us in Blue Revolution Hawaii.

Next Wednesday:  New Zealand.

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