Surprising Horizons

The Joy of Travel. The Realities of New Experiences.

Month: April 2017

Singapore Ink Show 2017

Having a weird interest in permanently inking one’s body for random reasons, I bought a $36 ticket to visit the Singapore Ink Show 2017. I pondered why tickets were so expensive and would it be worth it. After visiting the show on the Saturday I guess my answer to that would be….yes and no.

Yes, it was very interesting to see the tattoo artists live at work doing a wide range of different tattoo styles on a wide range of bodies (and body parts). No, in that there really wasn’t much else to warrant a $36 ticket cost.

Skull tattoo….can’t imagine the sensation he must be feeling…

One thing that stood out to me was the lengths people will go to to get a specific tattoo by a specific artist. I’m not too keyed in to the famous tattoo artist world so I’m presuming a lot of these artists were reputable and sought after. Which explained why you see half naked people happily getting tattooed while being observed by hundreds of people throughout their ordeal. Call me old fashioned but give me a quiet corner and a curtain to keep the world away from me when I’m going under the needle for a few hours.

There was a cover-up tattoo competition on the main stage when we were there which was interesting but they wouldn’t announce the winner until a number of other competitions had run their course. Felt a tad slowww..

Eats and drinks related there were some small Pilsner Urquells going for $10 and a number of small dishes available. Some leather-clad ladies were ladling out free Monster energy drinks too.

All in all, an interesting enough experience but I would like a ticket price around the $20 range which would feel about right with what was on offer.

 

Artbox Singapore 2017

Artbox Singapore 2017 sucked.

That is all.

One of the small corridors. Sucked.

Actually,well, I have a bit more to say.

This event (which consisted of food, drink, and other stalls) ran over two weekends at the Bayfront Event Space at Bayfront Avenue. The first weekend was followed soon after by a public backlash on the horrendous crowd control and layout of the stalls and corridors. So what would change by the second weekend after the harsh feedback? Not much it seems, although it was reported that “they moved two rows of shops to add room and set up gates for better crowd control.” If they, indeed, did that I would have hated to see the first weekend because when I went there on the Saturday evening of the second week it was aaaatrocious. It was one of those experiences where you’re in the middle of a mass of humanity and you say “just kill me now”. Getting back on to the Marina Promenade was one of the highlights of my life.

So what did they do wrong? Well basically there wasn’t enough thought put into the freedom to just walk through and look at stalls and the actual queuing of human beings. While walking you would suddenly walk into a queue cutting perpendicular to your escape route. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, a massive garbage bin would appear from the throngs of people with its stench and piles of sun drenched food blocking you like a homeless junkie Jabba the Hutt.

 

Yeah, Artbox Singapore 2017 sucked.

The Art Behind The Game Exhibition, The Ubisoft Experience

There’s a cool little free exhibition going on in the National Design Centre until May 25th documenting the work that the Ubisoft Singapore office has done on the amazing Assassin’s Creed series of games (and in particular Black Flag).

The exhibition shows the unbelievable background work Ubisoft does to produce an Assassin’s Creed game; from preliminary pencil sketches to taking trips to Cuba to gather inspiration for the art direction of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag.

Seeing all the artwork (and the sea shanty audio area) brought me back to the 67 hours I put into Black Flag. An amazingly engaging game brought to life with fantastic game mechanics and character development. Seeing this exhibition, however, brings into focus the amount of time and dedication that Ubisoft put into how the game looked and felt to the player. It is a beautiful game that you want to submerge yourself in again and again and one of the few games that I wanted to gather all the collectible items just to experience more and more areas of the world.

Head on down to the National Design Centre to get a closer look at an aspect of game development that you may have been just overlooking and taking for granted.

NASA: A Human Adventure Exhibition 2017

A couple of weeks ago I managed to get to see the NASA exhibition at the ArtScience Museum in its final week. I had been meaning to go since it arrived back in November 2016 and was looking forward to seeing some space loot. Tickets were 2-for-1 in the final few days so it was all systems go for….sigh….launch.

We’ve all heard the theories about the moon landings being fake well “fake” is actually the key word I would choose to describe this entire exhibition as a vast majority of the exhibits were replicas and models. What’s the point? I would get a more engaging experience looking up picture of the real space artifacts on the internet rather than staring at plastic effigy that some dude in an office in Cape Canaveral rustled up with some Cornflakes boxes and sticky tape.

So spoiler alert; I didn’t really enjoy it and it was pretty disappointing. As I went around I just ended up reading the information signs and  lowering my head every time I read the ubiquitous “replica” in brackets after the description.

First part was focused on the space race. Above us was a replica of Sputnik satellite. Graphically fine but nothing to write home about. Some old 60’s memorabilia set the scene for the era involved.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”

I guess the few authentic highlights were the REAL engine parts..at least I think they were real. Seeing the innards of wires and industrial tape and basic soldering really puts into perspective how innovative yet daring the NASA scientists were. I guess it was rocket science after all.

So after the engines you pretty much went through a model show-room of cockpits, modules, and rockets. It got boring where it should have got awe-inspiring.

Near the end there was a little miniature version of that big G-Force astronaut thingy (you know the one, James Bond was locked in one back in the day) for people to try out and that was pretty much that. I waited around to see if the door opened at the end of a spin and a pool of vomit would just flood out. It didn’t, people came out with faces asking “that’s it?” and just wandered off in a daze to the exit.
Sadly, I followed them too, in a daze, and was not sad to leave.

What was I looking for in a space exhibition? I was looking for real artifacts and an exhibition that left me with more questions than answers and a sense of awe. It failed on both counts…

Food Delivery in Singapore

Like taxi and ride hailing apps in Singapore, a lot has happened in the last 5 years with how you can get food delivered to your door so you don’t have to slide off your Cheeto-incrusted sofa and just lie there. Just lie there. Waiting.

Back in 2012, you were happy to get a Pizza Hut or Dominos pizza delivered. That was a good thing. FoodPanda was the only 3rd party food delivery app that was available and with really not a lot of variety and long hunger pain waiting times.

Fast forward to 2017 and the competition is fierce and most welcome to the paying customer. Foodpanda has had to up its game and actually try to become reliable and more accessible due to the entry of Deliveroo and UberEats into the fray. Let’s see how they stack up against each other in my experiences.

FoodPanda
Launched 2012. 5 million downloads on Google Play Store..
The oldest but the most disappointing. With more years behind them than UberEats or Deliveroo they still somehow get it wrong with customer experience. I remember ordering from them in the early days and getting cold and soggy food. There is no little map to show where your delivery is. If, for some reason, you open their app and stop browsing they pop up a little reminder on your phone as if you had lost your mind and just realised you’re not hungry. Silly. Stop badgering me. I know I’m hungry. At the time of writing they also have this splash ad before I can start even browsing the restaurants that is impossible to click the “x” on!!

They also seem to have less options than the other two main competitors (when they really don’t!), maybe that’s just where I am located in Singapore but this along with the aggravating user experience makes me choose this app last. They do have a deal with Burger King to deliver and they recently tried to start innovating with a couple of 24 hour food delivery options so I suppose there’s that.
It’s just that they remind me of Kodak; they had years to innovate and improve and did nothing. Then they got competition…

UberEats
Launched May 2016. 5 million downloads on Google Play Store.
I’ve had a couple of long waiting times with UberEats that were, after a few days, automatically acknowledged and I was given a $5 voucher. UberEats is my second go-to app due to those long waiting times, it feels to me like they just don’t have enough drivers around my location. It’s confusing too as I can’t rate the drivers like on regular Uber but the drivers seem to have ratings…odd… Even after just under a year on the market they seem to have more variety than FoodPanda and with a more smooth user experience on their app.

Deliveroo
Update April 2017: Looks like Deliveroo is leading the way with innovative offerings. Deliveroo Editions is a concept where small bespoke kitchens with chefs from handpicked popular restaurants open up in usually “hard to deliver” to places. Interesting idea.
Launched November 2015. 1 million downloads on Google Play Store.
Deliveroo rampaged onto the scene with an advertising assault that left no stone un-turned. Everywhere you looked you saw the logo and branding (they’ve since changed their logo). Restaurants and drivers were quick with hopping (ahem) on board and that made for a more pleasant first few orders with them as there were a variety of food options and quick delivery times. They show a map the moment you order and give you a notification each step of the way. They are my go-to app due to the slickness of their app and my history of getting my food quickly and hot. They also give you an option to tip the driver in your final payment which I can feel better about.

Like the ride hailing apps it will be interesting to watch this space. All companies are having money thrown into them by investments so it will be interesting how they will use those $$$$ that will determine who comes out on top. With the addition recently of a couple of alcohol delivery services in Singapore (bottlesXO and vinomofo); the room for natural expansion and evolution into that area has gotten a little bit more competitive. One thing for sure is they will need to come up with something innovative to stand out from the competition.

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