Tuesday, 14 September 2010


On 16th August, I set off for Singapore on one of Singapore Airlines' new Airbus A380 'super jumbo' airliners. Firstly, I was to visit my former boss, Jane Allan, who first employed me at The Glasgow School of Art in 1998 and who is now Dean of Interdisciplinary Studies at La Salle College of the Arts in Singapore - where I was to deliver a lecture on 'Creative Economies'. I owe my career as an academic to Jane, who has always been very supportive of my endeavours. Secondly, I was to make a trip on the cruise ship, Superstar Virgo on behalf of ShipPax in Sweden (to feature in Cruise & Ferry Info in November - see a previous post).

The A380 is a magnificent plane - but Singapore Airlines' economy seats are of the same basic design as those on easyJet and for a six-foot-tall chap like me, they're instruments of torture. There were also three screaming babies in my part of the cabin - so sleep was out of the question, even with earplugs. I was glad to get there, get out and have a stretch.

Singapore Changi is a super-efficient and spacious airport - I was through customs in under a minute. After a wash and a rest, it was time to explore.

La Salle College of the Arts occupies an impressive megastructure in downtown Singapore, consisting of six glass-clad towers within a black brise soleil and with a shaded courtyard in the centre.

Jane Allan in her office (above right)

Appropriately enough, Jane's foundation year students are kept below ground level.

A fine pedestrian bridge, made by a famous Glasgow manufacturer.

Dinner outdoors, surrounded by office blocks.

The Singaporean authorities evidently think that young men with fashionable hair-cuts are nothing but trouble, as these warnings stuck inside the windows on the metro demonstrate.

Geylang Road, an arterial road heading East from the city centre, is architecturally merely a South East Asian version of a similar type of street in London. As one walks along, the buildings change from 1920s classicism to angular early-thirties Art Deco to late-thirties streamline moderne. By night, the area has a reputation as a red light district but, by day, it all looked fairly respectable. Singapore's Government has a very low toleration of scuzz.

Luncheon - chicken and rice with a cold beer.

General directions.

Two cinemas of the inter-war era - still in business.

No shortage of food.

Intriguing signs.

A walk along Ceylon Road at night.

Walter the cockroach also out botanising the asphalt.

Ramadan had just begun when I arrived in Singapore and, on open land, large tented souks had been erected. Muslims may not eat or drink between dawn and dusk - but after sunset, everyone comes out to eat, meet friends and celebrate.

A flower stall - all plastic and silk so as not to wilt in the tropical heat and humidity.

One of the food halls in the souk.

Fabrics for sale in another vast tent.

Part of the amusement arcade.

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