Monday, January 11, 2010

The Infamous Merlion

The merlion is one of the symbols of Singapore, and this has mystified me since we arrived. I kind of figured it was the misguided result of a late-night meeting of the Singapore Tourism Board ("Hey Jim, I told the boss we'd come up with a new and exciting mascot for today's meeting and we still have no ideas except a stupid lion or a boring fish" "Don't even worry about it, Bob. I have something WAY better than either of those."). After a little research, we discovered that there was some logic behind the wacky icon that I love so much.

In the early days, a settlement on Singapore was called Temasek which means "town of the sea." In later days the island was named Singapura- the lion city. The merlion is a bizarre nod to Singapore's roots- quite literally a hybrid of yesterday and today. Merlion Park, where the alabaster monstrosity perches, spewing water from his mouth, has become quite the tourist hotspot. It was well past time for us to make our pilgrimage. Naturally, a photo shoot was necessary.There was even a baby merlion!!An observation area offered great views of the Esplanade and the Singapore Flyer, the world's largest ferris wheel (or as the commercials refer to it, "the world's largest observation wheel," which sounds infinitely lamer to me).There are lots of great sculptures around downtown too, and we passed some them on our way to and from Merlion Park. But first ALIENS TOOK OVER THE CITY!!!!!!!!!JK, that's just the ultra-modern Singapore Supreme Court building. Here it is with the old Supreme Court building.Seriously though, there were some neat sculptures. My favorite is Fernando Botero's stocky songbird. It's on the riverfront near Dali's "Homage to Newton," which I have posted photos of previously.I also really like the details on the "Progress and Advancement" sculpture, which illustrates S'pore's humble beginnings flowing into its present-day cityscape.These bright silver businessmen are scattered around randomly- I swear they look like friendly Cylons. I thought they were cute, and I think I ended up flirting with one of them...You'd think that with a PhD and two Master's degrees between the two of us, we'd have gotten over giggling at butts. You would be wrong.

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