Friday, January 22, 2010

Death and taxes

[Photo credit]

They're building another casino in Singapore - a three-towered monstrosity, improbably modelled on card decks, apparently, and built to feng shui principles (earth, wind and fire) near the Singapore Flyer, precisely positioned so that the Flyer ("the world's largest observation wheel - a moving experience at every turn": who writes this stuff?) will, accordingly, deliver good fortune to all who gamble there.

This evening I attended the closing dinner for a week of conferences and events which we were sponsoring. It was held at the Marina Barrage, an enormous, rather unappealing building which features a long, swooping roof walk, a big spiral leading you up to the roof and amazing views back to Singapore's financial district, past the Singapore Flyer's glittering lights and across to the sepulchural three towers of the almost-finished casino.

All this development - and a huge swathe of this part of Singapore is a building site, with thousands of workers from India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar housed in rows of temporary dorms - is impressive, and certainly the scale of it is astonishing and the sheer size of the buildings, if nothing else, is a marvel; but there's an emptiness there that reminds me of my least favourite place on earth, Las Vegas.

The difficult part once the developments are complete is bringing buildings to life. I walked to the top to see people on the roof of the Marina Barrage flying kites, taking photographs and jumping in the grass; appreciating the new view, as I did, and enjoying their new building.

Photo credit


Mummy said...

I find this whole Marina Bay development incredibly indicative of Singapore as a whole because a) it has ruined an otherwise rather lovely view from the CBD out over the sea and b) Singaporeans will be almost completely banned from using it lest they become addicted to gambling so need to be protected from themselves.

LottieP said...

It is huge and ugly, that's for sure, and will bring no discernible benefit to Singapore, but plenty to its owners.

Claire said...

Oh I don't know about Las Vegas...I had a great time at Wet'n'Wild (being young enough not to think about the obscenity of a water park in the middle of a desert), though, admittedly, none at all in the casinos.

LottieP said...

I was in Las Vegas for a sales conference just after 9/11 and so I was already feeling jaundiced. I could see some interesting things about it, and we had fun dancing in a tacky nightclub, but generally it left me cold.