Japan, Taiwan,
Singapore, Hong Kong

By Jack Welsch

Images © Copyright 1995, J. H. Welsch
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This one was almost 100% business. The purpose was a distributor's meeting in Singapore. We made short visits to Tokyo and Taiwan on the way down and stopped in Hong Kong on the way back. Tokyo was a day of business capped by a very enjoyable typical Japanese dinner. We visited a factory outside of Tokyo but, unfortunately, the weather we so bad, we were able to see little of the countryside. My major impression of Tokyo is that it was big, crowded and expensive. I really need to go back to see more.

I must admit I didn't like Taiwan at all. We arrived around noon and were gone by noon the next day but even that was too long. The people were nice but I found the island dirty, crowded and depressing. I will admit the rainy weather probably made things appear worse than they really are but I'm not in a hurry to return.

Singapore was exactly the opposite. I've never seen a more modern or beautiful city. As you may know, the law in Singapore is very strict. Converted to US dollars (at the time), such things as jaywalking, littering, chewing gum in public and failing to flush a public toilet are fined at $750 US per offence. Drug use is punishable by death on first offence; they don't have to worry about second offenders. They may have laws we see as oppressive but they get results. We had the freedom to safely ride the subway system at 1:00 AM. That's NOT a freedom we have in New York!

We spent close to a week in Singapore, with the weekend essentially free. On Sunday, I attended the Anglican church but then had a friend give me a private tour including visits to two Buddhist temples, one Hindu temple and a Mosque. My friend is Buddhist so I got some extra insight on that. I love learning about different religions and cultures. During the meeting, we had some interesting dinners. One night, after I had eaten a second helping of what I thought was pickled onions, my friend commented that I must really have enjoyed the jellyfish! Actually, I did! Prices in Singapore were astronomical. One night, I was with two friends and went to the bar to order three beers. The bartender said, "That'll be $45.00, please." Now, that was in Singapore dollars which were worth about $0.75 at the time but that still puts beer at $11.25 US each.

On the way home, we stopped for two nights and a day in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the weather was lousy but we still had a good time. Three of us took the cog railway up to Victoria Peak (where we could see nothing because of the fog), then we took a little tour including a tour through Aberdeen Harbor on a sampan. We went in among the zillion boats rafted as living quarters for families. For the most part, they looked pretty impoverished. After that we stopped at Stanley market to do some shopping. I really enjoyed Hong Kong and would like to return.