Saturday, November 1, 2008

Underpass. Low-service. Not impress.

Those words are mirroring my impression about Singapore. If you Singaporean, don’t take this as an insult, this merely based on my experienced, as a result of lack of service I expected from people behind service desk, or people occupied the place that often proudly cited as one of the best travel –and shopping- destination in the world.

My first encounter with Singaporean was on the Changi airport. Once we landed, the kids were so happy seeing signs allowing people to drink tap water. We walk passed immigration, saw a bowl of refreshment candy on their desk –can’t passed it without grabbing at least one- and through custom, out to arrival front foyer. We met a nice Lady with full of smile on Tourism-Information desk, plenty tips for survival with the kids, and I felt welcome, thinking this is Singapore, friendly place.

After travelled for about 1.5 hour from Airport to our hotel –we opt for Airport shuttle rather cab, so we can have a bit sightseeing and get the idea about this place beforehand- we checked-in to York Hotel, next door to famous shopping strip Orchard road. I was tired, hungry, my children start to cranky, reception staff was so slow, made couple of mistake, couldn’t find my booking, and without smile yet apologizing. I became cranky too. All good pictures taken while I met the friendly staff at Tourism Information had vanished into thin air. I went ballistic when for the third time on 2nd day I had to get my room card re-program. Everyone on reception or Guest relation seems to had their own rule, told different way how to fix the problem, and for the same problem they gave me different direction, I got confused all the time. The worst? None of staffs smiled!

Before you get guessing about the underpass, I better tell you. We just want to get lunch, so we out for walk. As I read on my Lonely Planet, plenty of restaurants around and Ngee Ang City shopping mall host some of the best restaurant with local cuisine. As we stayed on the other side of that building, we had to crossing Orchard road to get there. When we got to Orchard, I couldn’t figure out how to cross the street since no signs display clearly. I don’t want to decide to go either left or right to find the pedestrian crossing without having to know location of the crossing. So many people walked and chattered busily; some of them laugh with their mobile phone stick to their ears, as the walked inside their own cubicle and bump into my daughter pram couple of time. And no sorry word came out. Prove me that most Singaporean never cares about mum who walk with pram and holding her child hand on the same time.
The person told me where the underpass is the 7th person I asked. He told me, the only way to cross the street is gone under through underpass tunnel. Good information, wrong execution. I went under for about 4 steps, tried to get balance of juggling pram off the steps. 40 down walked about 20metres, view of steps up make me mental. I need help. It’s came from my son.
Went up and up and up, one by one, another circus show, juggling stroller for balance, my son kept cursing the steps. I made no comment. He had the right to say that. Soon-to-be 6 years old little man put his best effort to made our journey for lunch smoother.
Oh, anyway, so many people walked toward or bypassed us, none of them offering for help. I know when I take my children for –let say- a walk, I have to prepare for everything, include a long painful process of pushing pram through uneven sidewalk or steps without helping from others. I did prepare. Still shocked me though. It never happened in Sydney before.

So, if I have to make a positive comment about my Singapore’s travel experience, it’s hard to put this puzzle together.
I might have to stay longer and go around more to get deeper feeling and experience. To figure out, is it really Singapore that people talked about, with their hospitality, their excellent service, or only me that got push & kicked by two middle-age men while queue for the lift?

Let see what happen when I have to visit for the 2nd time.

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