Wednesday, July 30. 2008
I've been in Singapore for nearly 3 days and I have yet to find the dark underbelly. Singapore is not like Andy Griffithís Mayberry, itís more like Dr Seussí Whoville. The people are, from this observersí perspective, absurdly good-natured. While exploring the city yesterday I witnessed a guy digging a trench next to the road. He was sitting in his backhoe and he had an enormous grin on his face. I watched him for a few moments and he didnít stop smiling the entire time Ė the guy was REALLY enjoying digging with his backhoe.
I continued to explore, and while walking in the downtown district I encountered a few locals here and there, and they were all positive and upbeat. Even the electronics salesman that tried to sell me a digital camera for twice the actual value was really quite friendly about the whole matter.
The place is also incredibly clean. Thereís no spitting and no chewing gum. Thereís also no litter Ė anywhere. Apparently there is a strict no-tolerance policy on everything, but I jaywalked 3 times yesterday and I didnít get flogged, so I think itís more of a myth. Singapore is a success, and Iím interested to find out if there is a Letters to the Editor/Complaint section in the local newspaper.
The downside to Singapore is that if someone is looking for authentic Southeast Asian culture I doubt this is the place to visit. All the street signs/menus are in English, everyone speaks English, and thereís a Starbucks on every corner. With all of the banks and high-end shopping, Singapore is capitalism on steroids and could easily be confused with a very humid Newport Beach.
As for the training camp itself: Iím pretty tired. The reason that I went out exploring the first two days was to prevent myself from sleeping in the middle of the day so as to acclimate to the time difference. However, it didnít seem to work out the way I intended. I did double practices the first two days here (8,000 per) and explored the city in between sessions. Unfortunately my body didnít adjust, so I was awake most of the night. Right now Iím tired from traveling, swimming, exploring and not sleeping. The combination showed last night and this morning at practice when I had a couple of awful sessions. Today I decided to take a different approach to my adjustment process and am going to try and rest any time I can, regardless of the hour.
One observation from the pool thatís pretty funny. Every day the swimmers all get in the water for a 7am training session and most of us do an 800 to 1,000 meter warm-up. During this warm-up period time all of the coaches go to the coffee bar and have complimentary cappuccino or espresso. They then return to the side of the pool, with a cup and saucer in hand, and casually sip their morning beverage. Itís rather funny to watch 15 coaches, who typically chug coffee from a 7-11 Styrofoam cup, daintily sip cappuccinos during practice.
Skit night is forthcoming.
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