Singapore Bling (Decade of the Mind VI)

I’m up at 4AM again. Jet lag for me goes away as a step function. I’m at a plateau right now. Up at 4 and really sleepy by around 9PM. Today (Sunday) we’ll dialog with some of the principals in combination a tour and dinner. We’re gathering in the late afternoon for a tour of the Peranakan Museum (the culture before the British got here–descendants of the Chinese and South-Asian communities that formed a hybrid culture) and then a festive dinner at a restaurant near by.
Yesterday I took in the full Orchard Road shopping experience. Imagine an eastern asian version of Rodeo Drive and Fifth Avenue rolled into a single massive tree-line boulevard. Or for those loyal readers from the Washington Area, Imagine malls like Tysons –except they are like the iceberg that the Titanic hit–the part above ground is dwarfed by what’s below the street level. At one of the most iconic of these shopping palaces (Ion) you’ll not only find access to the MRT (Singapore’s version of Metro) but also stores like Marks and Spencer, Burrberry and oddly enough for my Ann Arbor friends, a version of Borders Books that harkens back to the glory days.
And of course the food courts, which go on and on and forever and for which my colleague Tyler Cowen has provided much better reviews than I ever can (I believe his next book is on the economics of food!).
I ended up spending some money on some gifts; the Singapore dollars is right now at about .77 of the US dollar, so even though it’s absolutely not true, my neuroeconomic brain was making feel like the country was on-sale.
Our Hotel, Traders, is proximal to the leafy quiet neighborhood at the end of Orchard Road near the Botanical Gardens. It’s also quite near the U.S. Embassy (it looks impregnable by the way). So it’s not surprising really that the hotel is connected to a much smaller Mall which caters to the ex-pat scene. There is a clone of Whole Foods that was filled with people who could easily have been teleported from the one I usually go to in Clarendon. I have to say the prices, on average, were a bit better–although that could still be cognitive dissonance of using the Singapore dollar.
We’re near the equator. The last place this hot that I visited, Curacao, was also very near the equator. I suspect I mentioned that in a 2005 blog entry. So as I’m hearing about crisp Fall weather from the States, I’m a bit envious.
Tomorrow I’ll kick off the conference with an overview of the Decade of the Mind Project and where I hope it can go, both within the US and internationally. Then we’ll hear talks from Dale Purves, Randy Galistel and Maria Kozhevnikov. With luck (and wi-fi), I’ll be live blogging.