We got it. 5 in a row. Time to come home.
20:45 and the first proper day of testing is over. The debrief finished a few minutes ago. Things are looking good so far. We've got a few hours of time tonight mixed between us and the simulator boys. They took a real beating today so we're hoping they get their stuff sorted or it will bring the whole acceptance to a halt.
Mike and I weren't needed this morning so following the 23:30 dinner last night, I forced myself to get up with the birds (and the jackhammers outside the hotel) this morning and took myself over to Sentosa for a couple of hours. The cablecar ride was fun even if each of the cars was like a little Turkish sauna inside.
I went around the insect and butterfly exhibit on the island and the live butterfly cage was amazing. A huge outdoor netted-in habitat with literally thousands of butterflies doing their thing. Turns out that even in a target-rich environment, butterflies are actually pretty hard to photograph. They don't tend to settle anywhere for too long. The brilliant yellow and red ones all seemed to stay higher up so I had to settle for this one as my close-up...
Another long one today. It was pissing it down this morning - and I mean really hurling the rain out of the sky. The rain was bouncing up off the roads and pavements. We went from sunny and humid to flooded and humid in a matter of minutes and then by the middle of the afternoon, normal service was resumed. 30°C and 99% humidity. As yes. Lovely Singapore.
We found and fixed a ton of problems with the system today but the true test of certification starts tomorrow.
We were discussing at dinner tonight how polite everyone is here. They will literally fall over themselves to serve you, which is nice of course, but it really shows up how terrible people's manners are in other parts of the world. Staying in Singapore for a week makes you want to be nice to everyone again until the grinding reality of living in the west drags you down again. I'm not sure I could live here - it's a 24-7 environment with bazillions of Pacific rim nationalities, all heated up to a nice simmer in the Singapore climate. People are happy but I heard one person describe this place the best - it's a benevolent dictatorship. Everyone will be fine and happy as long as they stand in line and do what the government tells them to. People will be guaranteed housing, running water, power, efficient transport, excellent education and a clean island, just so long as they understand their place in this society.
Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Frankly, having seen how well this place works, and how apparently happy everyone is, it can't be a bad thing....
We had dinner at the Monkey Bar last night - a great little local haunt marred only slightly by being on the ground floor of the not-so-famous Four Floors of Whores. That's not the place's real name, but it's what everyone knows it by. It was interesting watching relatively hot girls coming out and accompanying their "customers" to one of the five very handily placed ATMs for easy payment. At one point in the evening about 30 of them all appeared at once from round behind a parking garage and Darren idly said 'must be the hosing-off area'. The conversation went downhill from there.
Another noon-to-midnight shift today. The CAA surprised everyone by starting on the visual system two days early meaning there was some frantic model manipulation going on behind the scenes that I thought I was going to have time to do tomorrow.
Still - the late-ish start gave me another couple of hours off this morning so I went to visit Simlim Square. It's sort of like Akihabara only in Singapore. 6 floors of electronics retailers covering 390,000 square feet (or S$1.59bn-worth of real estate in Singapore dollars). Everything from the tiniest memory stick (8Gb for $80) up to the largest (and I mean largest) plasma screen I've ever seen anywhere. Imagine Best Buy, only with twice the floorspace, and then stacked 6 floors deep. This photo is a view of a quarter of the central core. The camera couldn't fit a whole half-view in, nor could it get the basement or the top two floors. Or the outer ring of shops.
I've got another 12-12 tomorrow so I think I'm going to go and see if I can get "JK" to knock off some more from the price of a brand new Nokia phone he was trying to flog me this morning.
In between the 13 hour shifts, I'm getting to see little snippits of Singapore in the daylight (as oppose to the rest of the time when we're travelling around in taxis in the dark). 28°C year-round and rain every day certainly makes for one hell of a green place. These huge trees line the sides and centres of just about every road here.