Day 4 – Marina Bay Sands
The next day started for a lot of participants with a little hangover. Luckily enough we were allowed to stay in our beds until 8.30. After having breakfast, we started our journey to the VDL Enabling Technologies Group, a Dutch country which is specialized in high tech solutions for technical challenges. Like every other day, we took the metro and during the ride we witnessed the first rain of the study trip; it was a huge cloud-burst. Once arrived at the end station of the metro, we first bought some lunch before making the final walk to VDL ETG. There, we were received in the board room for a safety instruction, followed by some presentations about VDL in common, VDL ETG and VDL ETG Singapore. After a short break with real coffee (!), the factory tour started along different manufacturing rooms where the milling, welding, laser cutting, assembly and quality control works take place. Some of these activities happen in cleanrooms of different gradations. The tour was followed by a presentation about the career opportunities at VDL ETG and a lot of Q & A.
We took the metro back to our hostel for a quick refreshment and went to the Square City Mall. This is a mall full of shops and eating facilities where everybody had the opportunity of choosing the food of their choice. In the case of the author of this article, we went to ‘Pastamania’, which is an Italian restaurant where we ordered a pizza with student discount. Our money for the dinner was not totally spent so we decided to order an ice cream at a random stand.
Once all stomachs were filled, the journey brought us to the top of the massive Marina Bay Sands building. There, we enjoyed the amazing view of the skyline of Singapore during sunset. Once all cameras ran out of memory and we were not allowed to enter the casino because of one single under 21 group member we went on a boat trip through the city centre. The absolute zenith was the spectacular lightshow (different one than the one from yesterday) at Marina Bay Sands at the lake next to it.
Now, it was time to find out what the night life of Singapore had to offer us. First, we joined a little festival in Clarke Quay, the capital of the nightlife of Singapore. Some very crappy bands played at the stage and we were actually the ones to steal the show there; a lot of Singaporeans wanted to take pictures of us. The last stop of the night was a club called Attica. In contrast to the locals, we did not have to wait in the line to go inside, but we were allowed to enter the club at a side entrance. Besides the extreme high price of a beer (almost 15 euros), the men’s toilets were another thing to mention: the urinals had the shape of a woman’s mouth and after flushing they blew smoke. As a European, we gained a lot of attention from Singaporeans of the opposite sex; that is why some of us tried to get free beers from them, unsuccessfully. After a lot of dancing and some successful flirts, everybody returned to their beds, tired but satisfied.
Rik van Cauwenberghe
Day 3 – Hercules III
6.00 AM. The alarm clock goes off and only a few moments later Kelsey knocks on our doors to ensure we’re really awake. Well, let me rephrase that: to ensure we’re up. Being awake will take some more time and coffee. With some reluctance and still a bit groggy from the jetlag we manage to get out of bed for our first real day in Singapore.
Today’s agenda consisted of two company visits to Boskalis and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and cultural excursions to the Singapore Flyer and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. After a short breakfast, we were headed to the metro for our first company visit of the day, which was Boskalis. This company provides maritime services including dredging, towing, salvaging and furthermore operates in the inland infra and offshore energy sectors. Following a warm welcome (although it was almost freezing in the meeting room because of all the air-conditioning around here), we were given a couple of interesting presentations. One of the interesting facts told by one of the presentators was the difference between a civil and mechanical engineering; mechanical engineers build weapons, civil engineers build the targets. The presentations were followed by a tour through their warehouse and around the yard. Saving the best for last, the tour was concluded by a visit to one of Boskalis’ ships, the Asian Hercules III. This is one of the largest floating sheerlegs in the world and is able to lift 5000 metric tons with its 136 meter boom. It was truly an amazing sight, with the pulleys being larger than an average sized car and steel cables as thick as a man’s leg.
Next up on the list was a visit to the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering of the NTU. After a short bus ride and hike, we arrived at the faculty where we were first shown around in the robotics lab. Here, we received a couple demonstrations after which we were given a tour through the automotive lab with projects very similar to the ones being run at the TU/e. Subsequently, we were given a blitz tour through the aerospace lab and cafeteria, concluding the tour at the NTU.
It was now time for some sightseeing in downtown Singapore. After cramming ourselves into a couple of crowded busses at the NTU, we first headed to the Singapore Flyer, a large ferriswheel near the financial district. As we passed the many high-rise buildings and famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel on our way to the ferriswheel, a galore of photographs and selfies ensued, obviously. When everyone was done taking pictures, we continued to the Singapore Flyer where we dined at a food court, a plaza with all kinds of small food stalls.
Before calling it a day, we went to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel to view a light show at the Marina Bay Sands. In all honesty, this turned out to be kind of an anti-climax after all the great things we had seen earlier that day. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time left to visit the observation deck of the hotel, so this was postponed to the next day. Finally, we split up into a couple of smaller groups to enjoy a couple of welcome cold pints before wrapping up the day.
Day 2 – Hot and spicy
Day 2 started in Dubai, the transfer where we got on the flight to Changi airport (Singapore). The 3 hour wait in Dubai had been reduced to 1 hour after our previously delayed flight. From our arrival terminal to the departure terminal C took around 15 minutes. An elevator, an automated train and another elevator took us to terminal B, gate B20.
Boarding already started. Since we still had 30 minutes to board the giant Airbus A380, everyone got 20 minutes to check out the modern terminal. As soon as everyone left, the gate screen displayed ‘Final Call’. Everyone was politely requested to get their asses back to the gate. Some ‘buddy checks’ and headcounts later everyone was on the plane, which turned out to be half empty. Soon, all places with extra space were confiscated. Everyone else redistributed to assure maximal sleep comfort.
Around 7,5 hours later, we landed at Changi International Airport in Singapore. First a quick body heat scan, a toilet break and we were off to our transfer to the hostel. The bus, as it turned out, had been waiting for us for over an hour and had left to complete another transfer. After some vague promises, the bus was supposed to come in shortly. In the meantime, everyone had agreed on one thing: the temperature of 32 degree Celsius in combination with the humidity made it hot, very hot. After 2 hours the bus arrived and brought us to the hostel. 30 minutes later we entered ‘the Mitraa’ hostel. Everyone was divided in groups of 6 and each group was assigned to a room. First impression: bunk beds, tight, clean and air-conditioning.
A 20 minutes quick refresher later, everyone was ready to go to diner. This diner was taking place at a restaurant in the district called: Little India. It was a 15 minutes’ walk from the hostel. The menu was already predetermined. We all got the same, consisting of among other things: chicken, fish, vegetables, of course rice and other dishes. Judging by the red color on several faces, in combination with extensive sweating, some of the dishes turned out to be spicy. The complementary lime juice was not unnecessary for this hot food. A few reorders later, everyone was red and satisfied. A cold ice cream was the perfect end to this meal.
After diner, everyone went to the hostel to sleep and shower. An exhausting day of traveling has ended.