Friday, 26 December 2008

A Head for Heights

I do not enjoy heights any more. This is why I prefer to be on the 7th floor of our condo rather than in a penthouse on the 38th floor. Well actually there is also another reason for this decision - price - but I digress.

Why do I mention this? Well last year a new tourist attraction opened in Singapore with a great fanfare.

The Singapore Flyer aimed to better the London Eye by providing a view from a great height of Singapore and neighbouring Malaysia (if the heat haze or smog had dissipated enough to see the landmass). The "world's largest observation wheel" we were informed was a marvel of engineering and reliability.

It may be an attraction to others but the idea of being encapsulated for nigh on forty minutes in an air-conditioned metal cocoon while ascending the heights has no appeal to me whatsoever.

I had turned down a previous opportunity on an NUS staff outing to go aloft and I never regretted the decision, preferring instead to stay with my feet firmly on terra firma.

On Xmas Eve a fire broke out in the Flyer's control room and the wheel ground to a halt trapping 176 people for more than six hours. Ten passengers on capsules closest to the ground were encourage to abseil down ropes to safety.

I am eternally grateful that I did not patronise the Flyer and after this incident there has been serious scutiny of the Wheel and its operations. The wheel is currently closed down and one hopes that the small matter of an ancillary backup motor to rescue stranded passengers will be addressed, should an incident such as this reoccur. Currently according to press reports there is no such backup mechanism, hence the use of ropes to 'disembark'.

The retailers at the base of the wheel are having a hard time and are calling for compensation as this time of year is normally where heavy bookings above translate to good business below.

Given the economic dowturn I intend to remain with my feet firmly on the ground - in all senses of the term.

No comments: