Rooms Without Windows

Last night we went down to the Marina Bay complex, which I thought was mostly a huge hotel with a huge shopping mall at the bottom (and the worlds longest infinity pool on top, which is one of my Singapore obsessions).  But it turns out that there’s a lot more.  We went with two friends to see Wicked there, which was our first foray into one of Singapore’s big theaters. It seats over 2,000 people, and aside from the rather narrow stage, you could be tricked into thinking you were on Broadway.

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The performance was fun — the lead had a huge voice, and the production values were high (great effects, great lights, great orchestra).

After the applause died down, we wandered over to the casino next door.  That was a surprise — all I could think was, “Casino?  No one told me there are casinos in Singapore.  Nothing else is legal or easy here, so what’s up with gambling?”

It turns out that Singapore has found a smart way to milk money out of tourists and expats while making gambling a pricey investment for Singapore residents.  There are two casinos on the island, and f you’re a non-resident, you go to the casino for free; if you’re a Singapore resident, you have to pay $100.   So Singapore residents, unless they have a lot of disposable cash, are not likely to show up and leave with gambling addictions. It’s a clever program.

The casino itself is large and fairly interesting looking inside, though I learned (after I started to take a picture) that you’re not allowed to take pictures.  Oops.

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It’s smokey in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time — it had that smell I associate with old hotel rooms from the days before you could request (or laws mandated) smoke-free rooms.  Yuck.

I’ve always been intrigued by games of chance (though I’m too risk-averse to actually play the), so I enjoyed walking around and seeing the tables. I was glad that Blake was there to explain baccarat to me — that’s a game I’ve been wondering about for a long time, because it’s James Bond’s game of choice.

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