A Grand Prix Singers Style [Part 1]
This will be my third trip to Singapore, outside of the airport terminal that is, and unsurprisingly, my third time to the Formula 1 Grand Prix. On this occasion I’ve chosen to fly with Scoot, a Singaporean ‘budget carrier’ (a concept I’ve normally associated with Antler or Samsonite). Still at around $700AU return, I’m prepared to put my life on the line, because let’s face it, that’s just too damn cheap!! I must admit to being slightly disconcerted however by an airline that has tried to cram the word ‘Scoot’ into all aspects of the in-flight entertainment. For example, I can buy products from the ‘Scootalogue’, or view the entertainment in the ‘ScooTV’ guide, failing that, I can choose from the ‘Scootalicious’ menu for meals and beverages which, if the photos were anything to go by, would’ve had me Scooting to the bathroom or having a Scoot in the bag provided. There’s something about ‘beef goulash’ and ‘long-haul budget airline’ that just don’t seem to fit.
Fortunately enough however, I have an insider on the Grand Prix weekend, a very good friend of mine who knows the ins and outs of Singapore which includes travelling with Scoot. His rules are simple, “Get a seat with extra leg room” and “under no circumstances should I eat the food!’. I follow his advice and happily find myself with a seat in ‘the yellow section’ complete with additional leg room for an additional fee of around $30AU each way.
The ‘yellow section’ and the slightly more exotic ‘Scootbiz’ section are relatively empty compared to the blue section, the $30AU having deterred most customers no doubt prepared to sit in the cargo hold if it meant they could save a few extra bucks. If Scoot does decide to offer the hold in the future I suggest they call it ‘Scootched’. For now however, customers will have to make do with minimal room rather than none at all.
Walk off the plane and ascend the passenger gang plank and should you be unfortunate enough to walk past a gap wide enough to fit a piece of paper you’ll be provided with the type of climate that makes you wonder why you didn’t change into a bathing suit prior to landing, or in my case, put on a jacket and jeans prior to boarding, because the heat and humidity is oppressive. Welcome to Singapore, a nation that welcomes the visitors of the world with a customs card informing you of their preparedness to kill you should you carry illicit substances.
The Singapore Grand Prix is unashamedly funded by a government with a great deal of financial resources, a multi-million dollar sporting extravaganza, staged in an improbable location that seeks to portray the city as not only a financial hub of the Asian world but with a flair for the kind of entertainment that even Las Vegas would take notice of, in fact following the debacle that was the Ceasars Palace Grand Prix between 1981 and 1983, they really should.
Departing from the airport via taxi gives any traveller the opportunity to talk to a local, in Singapore it’s almost one of your only opportunities. On my first visit in 2009 I made a point of talking to my driver to get an understanding of what the arrival of Formula 1 meant for his profession and the city he grew up in. I must admit that the report card was not great. Any slight increase in business was countered by the increased traffic congestion caused by the multiple road closures. In a city where a driver can still ask you where you want to go, don’t be surprised if they avoid taking you anywhere near the place everyone else wants to go on Grand Prix weekend.
My taxi makes it to my digs for the weekend, an apartment on the outskirts of the city where my friends father lives, a place where the air-conditioner is on for longer than I’ll be on the bed that awaits, (things could have been so different had I ate that goulash), and an energy drink called ‘100 Plus’ is on tap.
Bag down, shorts on, I’ll save the F1 themed clothing for the action tomorrow. Tonight I’m an anonymous F1 insider, in this clothing I’m also an anonymous tourist, because Singapore is so full of expats it’s hard to know who’s going and who’s staying. It’s Thursday night and with my good friend arriving on the later flight at midnight, myself, and a mate of his, also here just for the Grand Prix and therefore a mate of mine, are up for something nice and simple on our first night. My mate’s father has other ideas.
Less than an hour after landing we are treated to some of the finest food, in some of the coolest locations that Singapore has to offer. First up it’s ‘The Library’, a bar that requires a password, updated daily on their Facebook page. An awesome bar with a wide variety of interesting cocktails one which we sample together is simply called ‘the bathtub’, complete with it’s very own rubber duck. After pre-dinner drinks its across the road to ‘Burnt Ends Bar and Grill’ where the pulled pork burgers are as addictive as the Brewerks buffalo wings, but more on that later. Thursday night down, 1am return, the hangover awaits, welcome to Singapore.
Part 2 has been drafted and will follow shortly…