Friday, 19 September 2008

A Tale of Two Cities

So we're our final leg of our cross world journey: Singapore.
Let me start by getting rid of the dirt first. Singapore is not a democracy; by my book, it's more like a dictatorship, or - to quote a guy from Abu Dhabi's answer about his homeland - "a simple democracy". This, however, doesn't seem to bother the people living in this prosperous if rather boiling land where the main national resource is shopping malls (and rather prestigious ones at that) and the main occupation seems to be shopping (despite the general lack of cheapness that comes with prestige).
I'll say it out straight: I like Singapore. It's so friendly and efficient while at it you can't help it: Out suitcases were already waiting for us, removed from the conveyor belt, by the time we got to them. A short examination revealed that one of them got damaged, so the Singapore Airlines lady waiting near the suitcases took us to her company's Lost & Found where we were given proper cash compensation to buy a new case within less than 5 minutes. I challenge all other airlines to come up with something close to that, especially when Singapore handled only half of our suitcases' journey.
Then we were handled similarly at the taxi rank and enjoyed VIP treatment from the taxi driver. And when we reached our hotel, a flock of people jumped at us to take care of our stuff and of us so we can get into our room and rest as soon as possible. Sure, you can get similar treatment in other places, but in the US people only do it expecting a tip; they smile at you because they want your money. Here, on the other hand, they smile because they genuinely mean it. Sure, they want the money just the same, but they go about it indirectly enough to make it feel ten times better.
Our hotel (Swissotel Stamford) is a five star one, similar in ranking to the Isrotel hotel we've been at in the Dead Sea while in Israel. So I've expected similar treatment and conditions, yet while the Singapore hotel was significantly cheaper to book it is providing us with much roomier conditions and way better service. Of notable mention is the breakfast: they make a fuss in Israel about hotels' morning offerings, but with all due respect no Kosher meal can be genuinely tasty (and if it does taste good it always leaves me wondering just how good it could have been if the world was free of stupid demagogy). Our Swissotel is not limited by such bullshit, so it offers meat in addition to milky stuff (and in addition to oriental stuff). Breakfast was a delight, all the more because we weren't surrounded by rather rude and pushy Israelis.
After Israel, Singapore feels like we're actually on holiday again.

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