Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's all so fake

Tonight I went to Sentosa twice. No-one should have to go to Sentosa more than once in their life. In a country where the very environment is manufactured, Sentosa is the pinnacle of artificiality, a groomed resort where every leaf on every bush is individually scrubbed.

To misquote Julie Burchill, Sentosa is an accountant's idea of what an enjoyable beach resort must be. There's sand, neatly arranged next to the sea. There are tree-lined walks. There are lots of bars, which would probably serve you drinks with umbrellas in them. And there's the strange sight of an oil tanker hoving into view as you look out at the ocean.

Basically, when they built it, they forgot to requisition any soul, and there was none spare at the depot, so that was that. The place is a pure refinement of fake, from the fake surf wave to the fake climbing wall to the fake sky diving centre. If you'd told me the monorail was imaginary, I'd have believed you.

If the soulcrushing emptiness doesn't get you, the taxi ride will. For my second visit to Sentosa, I took a taxi from Clarke Quay that ignored the rules of the road and of physics. The driver spent half the journey veering between other vehicles, and the rest arguing at a barrier to Sentosa about where the beach was, while I fumbled and hoped my ancient seatbelt would actually work. Never take a taxi if you've had two beers. Sober, you'll be fine. Ten pints in, and you won't care, but in between fear, motion sickness and vague booziness will make every journey hell.

Still, it's all very tidy. I ate a cheese sandwich, watched grown men fall in the artificial surf, and wondered what my life had become. Typical Thursday, I suppose.


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