Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fast Food, Fast Cars, Fast Women

Fast Food

Singapore and Malaysia are well known for a whole range of delicious ethnic foods - Chinese, Malay, Indian - as well as a variety of international fare. Sold at coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts, restaurants, there is never any lack of choice. Also many places are open right into the wee hours of the morning.

Fast food outlets are also very common. Way back in the 80's when the likes of Western fast food franchaises like McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway etc had yet to be established in these parts, I had my doubts if they would ever be successful. After all, who in their right mind would buy a burger, fries and drink for more than $3.50 (remember this was in the 80's) when they could get a more delicious bowl of noodles or plate of chicken rice with drink for considerably less? Maybe the only people to frequent these fast food joints would be foreigners who were not as adventurous in their food tastes, and wanted something familiar.

Well, fast forward to the 21st century and obviously I was totally wrong, as fast food joints can be seen everywhere, especially in city areas, co-existing with the local fare. Lesson: one shouldn't under-estimate the suggestive power of Western culture, amplified through persistent media advertising.

Fast Cars

Moving from food to automobiles ... Why are so many people fascinated with the Grand Prix or Formula One racing? Malaysia has had a racing circuit at Sepang (near KLIA) for some years, and I have foreign friends who attend races there almost every year. Singapore has just hosted the world's first Formula One (F1) night races on 28 September.

I've never been an F1 enthusiast myself. Previously I didn't know my Hamilton from my honey ham, and Alonso sounded like a blend of red wine to me ... but I was curious to see what the fuss was all about, and I watched the races that night. I must admit it was quite exciting, especially with the various thrills and spills along the way. I learnt that it was also most unpredictable - the driver Massa, who was in front at the beginning of the race, ended up near the last, and the chap Alonso, who due to a problem during the qualifier rounds started last, eventually won the race.

Of course I wasn't crazy enough to pay money for the exorbitantly priced tickets and go down to the trackside. Instead I watched from the VIP Grandstand of my own living room, in front of my 40" flatscreen TV set. Without sounding like "sour grapes", I still think one sees more of the race on TV, and I'm sure I won't miss the noise, heat and crowds that the trackside comes with.

Still I have gotten a much better appreciation of why F1 is so big worldwide, and why it brings the crowds - rich and poor, men and women, young and old. And having hosted the world's first night races has certainly put Singapore on the map for many who would otherwise never have visited this little island.

Fast Women

With hosting the F1 night races, Singapore has gotten a taste of what it's like to be a "city with buzz", welcoming the rich and famous from around the world. I was amused to read this recent article in the papers, which might give an inkling of what future Integrated Resorts (ie. Casino) visitors might be interested in ...

Escorts cash in on Grand Prix traffic
Fri Sep 26, 2008

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Big spenders in Singapore for the city state's first ever Formula One Grand Prix this weekend have boosted business for high-end social escort agencies by a fifth, a local paper reported Thursday.

"This is the best weekend this year," Prince Wong, owner of Singapore Escort Services, told The Straits Times newspaper. Wong said he has received five bookings for the weekend -- including one for a local starlet at a fee of S$40,000 ($28,110) for six hours of work.

Wong, who said his clients are foreign bosses in the gas and banking industries, declined to reveal the identity of both client and escort.

Singapore is hosting the Formula One race in the hopes of boosting its tourism sector, although the enthusiasm has been partly dampened by the ongoing global financial turmoil. The race will also be held at night for the first time.

The owner of The High Society Club agency expects business to be boosted by 75 per cent, while Singapore Model Escort is advertising on its website a 50 percent discounted "Singapore F1 GP Special offer," the Straits Times reported.

The newspaper said the escort's job is to smile, entertain the client and his friends by making small talk and sometimes show the client around Singapore.

The agencies said sexual services was not part of the deal but strictly between the escort and client to arrange, the Straits Times reported.

Prostitution is legal in Singapore but soliciting is not.

Agencies say their high-profile clients are picky about their escorts, asking for companions "from a good family background and at least a university degree," the Straits Times said.

"They want escorts who don't look, sound or dress like escorts. They want people to think, 'what a nice girlfriend he has'," it quoted an agency head as saying.

(Reporting by Daryl Loo; Editing by David Fox)
It certainly seems that high-end social escort services is a growth industry. Any new investors?


Anonymous said...

I missed the F1 as I was away in Dubai. I didn't think it was possible to be infected via the TV. Must be quite something!

James Yong said...

I still won't say I'm an F1 Grand Prix fan, but I do know considerably more about the sport and the personalities now.

flightstick said...

I was once hit by gout, about 20 years ago. The amanging director of the publshing firm I was then working for, an Englishman, asked me -- not too seriously, though -- whether my gout was caused by fast women and slow horses.

If you have enough cash, you can get anything fast -- women, cars, sex. Except race horses, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is beginning to sound better and better ... hehehe

Leo said...

The Singapore GP is not an F1 race.
It is a circus and a procession.
For the drivers, it is potentially a lottery which the best do not usually win.

So much like Monte Carlo & Hungaroring.