Surprising Horizons

The Joy of Travel. The Realities of New Experiences.

Category: Singapore (Page 1 of 5)

UFC in Singapore June 2017

UFC Fight Night 111 happened in Singapore’s Indoor Stadium last night. I waddled through the doors at 7pm to catch the last 2 of the pre-lim fights then the four major fights on the cards.

I fell into UFC a couple of years ago and went on a rampage trying to find every episode of UFC’s main events from 1 through to the most recent ones in the 200s. I remember teeth and blood and some fat dude pummeling a small dude in UFC 1. Nasty stuff. You wouldn’t see it on the streets of Dublin of an evening. Well maybe…
Of course as an Irish person I always tune into Conor McGregor’s fights as it’s pure mayhem, entertainment, and foighting words all the way in the run up and through his fights. I also tune in for the big ones; including the Ronda Roussey v Holly Holm fight a few years ago. Which brings us to tonight….

Holm and Beth Correia were the main draw on this fight card with a couple of other “names” in there for good measure namely Rafael Dos Anjos and Andrei Arlovski. Here’s how the fights went through my noobish eyes.

Cyril Asker vs. Walt Harris
I barely had time to get annoyed by the people around me and this fight was over. Some tentative engagements then Harris got Asker on his back and started bashing his face in with a not soft flurry of elbows. The referee stepped in before Asker forgot his hotel room number.

Takanori Gomi vs. Jon Tuck
The last of the prelim matches also went by in the blink of a swollen eye in the first round. Tuck got on Gomi’s back and flipped him around, got his arm around his neck, squeezed Gomi like an orange, and Gomi tapped out. Next.

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Tarec Saffiedine
This one went the full three rounds and dos Anjos did just enough in a pretty tit-for-tat affair of grappling and wrestling. Nothing too exciting and I wasn’t too impressed with dos Anjos at all. I started chatting to the usher during this bout; this would re-occur during the night. He was lonely and I needed some stimuli.

Colby Covington vs. Dong Hyun Kim
This sucked. I started thinking about American politics during this. It was stagnant and lacklustre. Covington just harried and hassled Kim and Kim really didn’t do anything to counter-attack throughout. Covington won on decision. If I were Covington I wouldn’t be optimistic I could fight anyone better than Kim in the future.

Andrei Arlovski vs. Marcin Tybura
Arlovski is a fan favourite. Tybura didn’t care and he got the upper hand in the grappling throughout. He won by unanimous decision and it definitely showed. Arlovski knew it when it was all over and it showed on his bruised face.

Holly Holm vs. Bethe Correia
What everyone was waiting for. Then everyone forgot that and started booing the very very ultra defensive and cautious approach by both fighters. There were two rounds of absolutely nothing to remember. I started chatting to my old usher friend again. I started getting more annoyed by the peopl around me. A Kiwi couple behind me got more courageous with each drink they had. “Come on Holms” was cried out from behind me throughout and in response to all the boos “Do you even know MMA brahhh!”. I could have corrected her name calling but left her to wallow in her own decaying orbit. Round three comes around and Correia thought it would be a good idea to taunt Holm to come and get it. Seconds later Holm did; by kicking Correia in the face and upper cutting her chin when she was down just to make sure she would feel more pain in the morning over pancakes and tea. It was embarrassing. It was beautiful.

And with that final kick it brought back to me why I like this sport so much and I’m hoping to keep in touch with the big events going forward.

A quick word on the Indoor Stadium; they really need to sort out toilets locations. Everyone has to gown medieval stairwells to reach them and the queues end up clogging up the stairwells…much like the toilets therein. That is all.

Singapore v Argentina Football Friendly: You Know The Result..

You better put your booties on, cuz it’s COLD (humid) OUTSIDE!!

Groundhog Day-esque is how I would describe the Singapore v Argentina soccer friendly last night. Minute after minute, it seemed the quite ordinary looking Argentina side adopted the same attacking tactics against a predictably nondescript Singapore team. More of that in a bit.

Lionel Messi was heralded as headline act in the roll up to this auspicious (and lets face it, weirdly A-List for Singapore) friendly. “Messi, Aguero and Argentina are heading to the Singapore Sports Hub” screamed FourFourTwo soccer website back in April. Confirmed – Lionel Messi and Argentina stars to play in Singapore” warbled the StraitsTimes in the same month. Confirmed turned to conned in some fans’ eyes. Around a week before kick-off it was confirmed he wouldn’t be playing due to, ahem, preparing for a wedding. Cough. Splutter. Maybe it was known before then, maybe it wasn’t. My cynical soul says a bunch of suits met and said it wouldn’t be good for business if it was announced earlier than that. And then Aguero, Higuain, and Otamendi (the next BIG names on the team) didn’t show either.

To the game! I thought I took a wrong turn at Balestier Road and ended up at Juventus Stadium when I rolled up to the National Stadium with many Singaporeans adorning the shirt of Dybala. Never heard of him…
It’s a little sad when foreign club support trumps country support but personality and fame trumps loyalty to other…things…these days. Why am I saying trump a lot…?

The game was a little lacklustre. Yeah, it ended 6-0 but in the first half the repeat ad nauseum attacking style of Argentina (spray it to flanks and look for holes) didn’t inspire me to crack open the old size 10s and try to re-create what I was seeing. Sure there was flare on show but Di Maria flattered to deceive on the right flank and made himself look decidedly average. Again. Singapore? Apart from the diminutive number 27 for Singapore, skinning an astonished Argentinian on the right flank once there was nothing to report. Here’s a sequence of attacks from the first half to the tune of Groundhog Day. Because I can.

The goals they scored in first half were all inside the box finishes after consistent and constant probing. Singapore played a rarely seen 10-0-0 formation. Argentina resorted to the even more lesser spotted 2-3-5. Lovely. Take a look at the highlights. 

The National Stadium is a decent venue for these games but the pitch, as always, looked terrible. Tiger beers at 12$ for a half-pint size? Check and checkmate.

Bite Size Review: Regent Singapore Saturday Prosecco Brunch

The all-you-can-eat buffet brunch is something every ex-pat or tourist in Singapore does at some point. It’s both a stamina test on your waist band and credit card limit but if you plan your gastronomical attack to be glutinous yet at a pace where you don’t get Caligula-ed too quickly you can get your money’s worth. There are a number of all-you-can-eat with free flow prosecco brunch options in Singapore and the Regent Singapore may not be the first on the list for many but in many ways it is a nicer experience than lets say the Fullerton brunch offering.

The Basilico restaurant in the Regent Singapore offers Italian style food during the Saturday Lunch Buffet. You can have a straight up eat-until-your breathing changes-buffet at $72 (excl. GST+service charge) or the buffet with free flow prosecco at $119 (excl. GST+service charge). We went for the latter. Then proceeded to take advantage of said latter. Here’s the photos. The food was really good; that’s all you need to know.

Waiter who was at our every beck and call to refill our Prosecco just out of shot.

Fantastic array of hot nosh.

More pictures than words for this blog post as pictures speak louder alright? I should mention that the lobby of the Regent Singapore has some cool angles if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

No Smoking $300

You know something’s wrong when Singaporeans grafitti a wall to try and resolve a problem. This wall should actually be a tourist attraction as it’s probably the only illegally grafittied wall in Singapore. And it’s been like this for months and months now. And you all thought Singapore was so clean you could eat your dinner off of it. Now you know.

So this Great Graffitied Wall of Singapore is on Sinaran Drive right beside Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The wall is, most likely, owned by 27Mr Pte Ltd. who are wayyyyy behind on building their proposed Moulmein27 apartment block in the plot of land behind the wall. The former building behind there, the Grand Tower (it wasn’t grand and wasn’t exactly towering) was demolished years ago and the plot is an empty but grassy and flowery rare bit of open space in the Novena area.

A few weeks ago the paint job was fading in the Singapore sun so somebody happily gave the lettering a second coat. That’s how long term this situation is.

New Halloween costume idea..

So what’s the issue? People are using the footpath and wall area as a place to smoke themselves stupid away from the neighbouring Tan Tock Seng Hospital. It’s annoying and passers-by have to inhale clouds of smoke they didn’t pay or wish for. People then proceed to throw butts on the ground and other remnants of their various vices. People sit under the grafitti, puffing away in a cancerous affront to the informal monetary warning. And what of TTSH? Can’t they provide their workers (and cancer patients) with an out-of-the-way smoking area far from innocent sidewalk shufflers’ lungs? It doesn’t appear so…

Extra strong beer; when one can is more than enough.

Are there other alternatives to removing the smokers’ rest area?

  • spikes, lots of them
  • smoke sensors that blast “Cotton Eyed Joe” when set off
  • dogs trained to attack on the sound of a cigarette lighter or match being struck.
  • water cannons, lots of them
  • introduce monkeys to the area
  • allow those licensed buskers who are usually in the MRT tunnels to set up shop there
  • place a durian stall there

In summary then, we have two warring factions; the smokers and the grafitti-ers. I’m with the grafitti-ers in heart and mind as the smokers are uncaring of others in their upkeep of their killsome addiction. On the other hand, the grafitti sucks to look at. At least add a bit of artistic flair to it. Draw a troll-esque smoker with 500 cigarettes in its mouth going all cross-eyed or draw a big arrow pointing down to where the people usually sit smoking and label it “MORONS”. I guess you can say stylistically I’m not with the grafitti-ers and they need some pointers on protest art.

I’m just left to wonder how will this pan out? If ever? Who will take charge of the multi-layered issues? TTSH and a Moses-esque migration of its smoking populace? Or 27Mr with a couple of sledgehammers?

In the meantime head on down to Sinaran Drive and take a few selfies with a real-life and authentic graffitied wall right here in Singapore!

Megadeth: Live in Singapore 2017

The Kallang Theatre welcomes you like an old musty bingo hall. No blue rinse hair and floral ankle length skirts on parade for Megadeth though. No it’s black. Black on black. Long hair if genetics allows. Indeed, the Kallang Theatre is a strange venue for the thrash metal stalwarts but once the lights went out the majority took to standing. If genetics allowed.

And so, this ended my 2017 nostalgic rock/metal gig saga with Guns N Roses and Metallica already in my rusty old rear-view mirror, Megadeth were the last of the trifecta on my concert planner.

Megadeth. Never top of my favourites but much respected for their pedigree and penchant for multiple dozens of guitar solos in one song. Bizarrely enough, their Countdown to Extinction album was the soundtrack to me playing the original Sonic the Hedgehog on my friend’s Sega Mega Drive.

To the concert itself then. One must admire the steadfast look of Megadeth over the decades. Dave Mustaine, the forever jeans wearing mop haired frontman, hasn’t changed his style since the 70s one would imagine. While other bands (eg. Metallica) have had mid-life crises and cut their hair and applied some nail polish, Dave and crew stuck to the same formula: long hair, jeans, trainers. No deviations. One must also admire the almost choreographed movements on stage which leaves no-one in doubt who is doing the guitar solo; two step back into shadows, one steps up front and proceeds to shred another solo.

Megadeth have always been a no nonsense metal band and their latest release “Dystopia” has got fans excited about them again. This confidence in their current offerings is shown in the set-list with no less than 6 songs included. Of course, being a fan of their old stuff, I was more engaged with their classics; “Hangar 18”, “In My Darkest Hour”, and “Peace Sells”. Only two songs from “Countdown to Extinction” (which wasn’t really liked by hardcore Megadeth fans) are played but “Sweating Bullets” and the amazing riff-centred core of “Symphony of Destruction” are stand outs for me.

With quite a short set-list for a band with so much material; it’s a little bit of a let-down. They do save the best for last though. “Holy Wars…” is probably the most under-rated metal song of all time. An amazing piece of song writing interlacing riffs and multiple solos whose lyrics are uber-meaningful nowadays more than ever. Check it out if you have time.

And after 14 songs, that was that. Sound was a little muddled at times but all in all a great show.

Megadeth Setlist Kallang Theatre, Singapore, Singapore 2017, Dystopia World Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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