Sep 11, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians

 Singapore has to be one of the most perfect countries; at least, to my way of thinking.  It is sparkling clean and people-friendly. When Rachel Chu, the leading lady, gets off the airplane at Singapore’s Changi airport, she marvels, “An airport with a movie theater…” I always notice is how quiet it is. The airport has a sunflower garden, a butterfly garden, a nature trail, plenty of child friendly activities, along with artwork,
shopping, and eateries. Transit passengers have a choice of four free tours while they wait – including a tour of Singapore. Amazingly, the airport is self-supporting and has some of the lowest landing fees.  Changi is the only Singapore airport but on the way into the city center the multi-lane highway is lined with flower pots that can be remove to provide a landing strip in case Changi is disabled.  Closer to the city the overpasses are draped with beautiful flowers. 

Rachel is mesmerized by her first view of the city with the
towering Singapore Flyer. Called an Observation Tower, it was the world’s tallest wheel when it opened in 2008.  In the background is the Marina Bay Sands with the world’s largest roof top infinity pool.  It is featured near the end of the film with the synchronized swimmers performing. 

At one-time Singapore was referred to as “the cess pool” of Asia.  All that changed when Lee Kuan Yew became the first prime minister. He instituted some draconian measures: visitors were turned away if they had long hair and chewing gum was banned. My youngest son, Jim, spent a semester at National University of Singapore and when he saw the list of things that were banned he was having second thoughts but then realized he didn’t do any of those things – urinating and spitting in the street, spraying graffiti, public nudity. Many places have such laws but as a cab driver told me, “In Singapore we enforce our laws.” One may recall the American teen who was sentenced to six strokes of the
cane for theft and vandalism.  Even the international attention brought about by his well-to-do, crying mom didn’t make a difference.

The colonial-style Raffles is where the hotel scenes were filmed. It is one of several luxury hotels in Singapore; it is one of the oldest. The hotel’s Long Bar is where the Singapore Sling was invented. We thought it tasted like Hawaiian Punch.

The Merlion, a mythical creature with a lion’s head and body of a fish, is the icon of Singapore. Today it is prominently displayed along the river in front of what was once the post office but now is the luxury Fullerton Hotel.

One of the movie’s last scenes is at the Gardens by the Bay. Take
note of the tree-like structures in the background. They are vertical gardens towering from 80 to 160 feet and have several functions. Some have photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy for lighting up the trees; others are integrated with Cooled Conservatories and serve as air exhaust receptacles. 

Like many things Asian, there is a lot of symbolism most of us miss.  In the mahjong game, Rachel, from the west, is seated in the west seat while Nick’s traditional mother is in the east seat.  At the end Rachel tosses down the eight bamboo tile to intentionally lose the game and letting Nick’s mom win and she says she turned down Nick’s marriage proposal proving to Nick’s mother that not all Americans think only of money and their own happiness.