Thursday, June 17, 2010

RoboCup Singapore 2010

Well, this has turned into being more of a travel blog than a mass transit blog. Sorry if that disappoints you.

I'm in Singapore right now to compete in the RoboCup 2010 World Championships. My team is in the RoboCup Junior Rescue B competition, in the secondary school division. There's five of us here, four programmers (of which I am one, and one of the mechanical design guys. We also have our teacher, Mr. Jump, and his wife along as chaperones.

The flights here were okay.

The 12.5 hour flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo was somewhat challenging due to the fact that it took off in the middle of the day, and thus everyone was wide awake, and it had no in-seat entertainment options. I have to say that the food on Asian flights is better than on European flights...yum shrimp cocktails and Thai pork & noodles. Japan looked really interesting from the air; various industrial zones and seaports, connected by strips of really dense housing seems to cover almost the entire country, with tiny agricultural areas of rice paddies wedged into the little space that wasn't developed. Also, there were too many golf courses. I don't understand why.

Tokyo was very strange, exactly how I imagined Japan. By Tokyo I mean satellite 1 in terminal 2 of Narita airport. Not really Tokyo. They had lots of shops filled with very strange things, from 32 GB (!!!) SD cards and various "novelty" USB devices, to bags filled with dried calamari and baby crabs. We bought a bag of these strange tiny little bite-sized crabs with the shells still on that were dried and coated in some type of sugar stuff. They were disgusting. It tasted like a mixture of oysters and kettle corn. Yuck.

I slept most of the 7 hours from Tokyo to Singapore, as it was about 7 AM CDT when we boarded the plane and I hadn't slept. We arrived in Singapore at about 2 AM on Friday. It felt like we skipped Thursday.

Customs were surprisingly lax, and we met some other people here for RoboCup on our way through. We got in some vans and headed out to the hotel. The landscape from the airport into downtown felt like southern Florida, only with 20-30 story apartment towers as far as the eye could see. Then we came over a bridge of some sort and the downtown came into view. It was gorgeous. It's like something out of a Jackie Chan movie...a huge sprawling, modern, and bright Asian metropolis.

Our hotel is VERY nice. It's very small and modern. The lobby feels a lot like the new W downtown. The rooftop pool is one of those infinity pools and it faces the skyline of the financial district, which is probably about 2 miles away. There is a separate skyline to the side that is much closer, with the SunTech convention center (where the RoboCup competition is) and opera house at its base, about 2 blocks from us. It's beautiful.

We ended up going to bed about 5 AM last night. We woke up at 8 today, but it felt like we got a full night's rest.

The weather here is crazy. Temperature is in the upper 70s- ow 80s... but the humidity is ungodly. Nothing like in Minnesota, or even in Florida. It feels like you're walking around in a steam room whenever you step outside.

We walked around outside for awhile, exploring the area around our hotel, and stopped at a Chinese restaurant for some soft of fabulous noodles and pork. Came out to about $2.00 a person. Nice. While we were eating, a torrential downpour started suddenly, lasted about 5 minutes and then stopped as instantly as it started.

Came back to the hotel to settle down into a long day of programming and testing. We blew the power to the hotel room when we first plugged our equipment in without the big power converter. Put the converter on and everything was fine.

Until next time,

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