In June 2013, the School of Energy and Environment organized its first-ever overseas cultural study tour for the undergraduate students. All the 15 participating students, led by Dr. Patrick Lee, Dr. Nicky Lam and Miss Michelle Wong, departed with great excitement for the 5-day journey in Singapore on 9 June 2013 (Sunday). Since it was the first overseas trip to some students, it somehow did mean a lot to them while they would experience many of their "first-time" throughout the tour!
Half-day city tour to Boat Quay, Raffles Landing Point, Merlion Park, China Town and Hindu Temple
Experience at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
Gardens by the Bay
After three and a half hours on the plane, we met our friendly tour guide Mr. Lam at the Changi Airport. Mr. Lam introduced the history of Singapore to us after we had all boarded the coach. It was surprising to know the huge meaning behind the design of the Merlion. It symbolizes the past, the present and the future of the country!
Our first stop was the Singapore River. Although it was quite hot, we all felt cool after trying the tasty sandwich with ice-cream! That was the first food that we tasted in Singapore. This combination created a special experience when soft, fluffy bread and icy, solid ice-cream were both tasted in a bite. It was particularly exotic when the ice-cream is flavoured DURIAN!
The views at the riverside for the Merlion, Marina Bay Sand and the Esplanade were fascinating! We were excited with the high rises and memorable buildings around.
The China Town in Singapore was somehow like Tung Choi Street in Hong Kong with many booths and shops selling souvenirs.
It was so relaxing to stroll back to the hotel along the Clarke Quay.
It was such a nice start of our tour!
Group 2 – Erica CHIANG, Money CHIN and Zoe POON
On the second day, we visited Nanyang Technological University (NTU) which is one of the largest public universities with the biggest campus in Singapore. The nice and generous NTU buddies were already at the entrance welcoming us warmly.
We then audited the lecture, Working in the 21st Century (Job Hunting), by Professor Kamal Kant together. It was a great lecture that the teaching style of Professor Kant was fascinating. He used lots of real life examples to describe the ideas and told jokes occasionally to conduct the lecture vividly. Besides, he emphasized the significance of understanding ourselves, focusing on what we like, value and the obstacles we may face. He also underlined the importance of having a career plan. “If you do not have a plan, you plan to fail” was the most impressive quote in the lecture. We have learnt a lot from the class.
After the lecture, it’s time to play! We had a few ice-breaking games with the NTU buddies including “Fan Tong Kai Fan” (飯桶開飯), “Ping-Bang-Wa”, etc. Through playing these simple games, we started to be familiar with each other. All of us had a great time together. The NTU buddies were all very nice and friendly. We soon became good friends.
Different kinds of cuisines, including Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Western food were provided at the canteen, “Food Connection”. Some of us marveled at the types of food offered and struggled for what to eat when walking around. The characteristics of internationalization of the university could be reflected from the cuisines provided. The NTU buddies told us that since some students do not eat pork because of religion, food with or without pork are placed on plates of different colors. This showed the mutual accommodation and consideration among different communities.
After lunch, we visited the four-storey Lee Wee Nam Library.
The study area in the library was extremely quiet, with plenty of seats next to the windows. You can look up to the blue sky and relax whenever you feel tired.
There was a room for using mobile phone. The cute comics reminded the users of not occupying extra space in order to share the resources with others. It highlighted the importance of self-discipline. The buddies told us that there are some more libraries for different subjects in the campus. Can you imagine how big the campus is?
Right below the library is the Student Activities Centre. There were plenty of games available for students, such as board games, console games, lounge, billiard table, café and so on. Students can enjoy different activities here with their friends. We could easily hear people laughing there.
A Chinese Medical clinic prescribing Chinese medicine or herbal tea is available at NTU.
Next to the clinic stands the Nanyang Auditorium. It is twice as big as the lecture theatre in CityU. We believe it is a great place to sleep (er... we mean if an uninteresting speech is delivered).
Just as we expected, the buildings for the School of Arts, Design and Media are always unique. It is a heart-shaped building covered by green grass. The dark windows reflected the pond and the ripples sparkled under the sun. Soft and warm wind had made us more relaxed. It seemed like the grass-skating fields all over the campus of NTU!
Before we bid good-bye to the NTU buddies, we took the chance to buy some souvenirs like the T-shirt at the NTU souvenir shop. It was a fruitful and enlightening visit to NTU.
Under the coordination of NTU, we visited the Senoko Waste-to-Energy (SWTE) Plant with our NTU buddies. We all had an unforgettable memory there as we had experienced an 1.5-hour trip with “special smell”. We still remembered the lift full of mosquitoes and flies and the scene that we all covered our noses with hands throughout the visit! Yet, the machines and the operation system of this plant were well-equipped and impressive for us.
To help our understanding, we were shown a video introducing the functions and operation of different parts of the system. The SWTE Plant adopts advanced technological solutions to generate energy from waste by incineration. It was a rare visit for us as it is not common for students to have access to the power generation plant and have a close look to the operation work.
The workers were controlling the giant claw to grab the rubbish for waste separation. We have not seen such a huge claw as this one before. The grabbing scene reminded us of the candy grabbing game in our childhood! The giant claw was our most favorite machine in the visit.
Since waste incineration is carried out at the SWTE Plant 24 hours a day throughout the year, it is a must to have professionals and workers to control and monitor the operation overnight. A central control panel of the machines and a control room with many closed-circuit televisions were there to monitor the different parts of the plant. The facilities helped minimizing the number of staff working overnight so as to lower the operation cost of the plant. The staff on the night shift were really respectable. The work required a high level of concentration as they had to take action immediately in response to any malfunction. They spent their whole night with the TVs and controlling system but not with their families.
In the afternoon, we visited the BCA Zero Energy House with our NTU buddies.
It was a three-storey building with a touch on eastern and western cultures in design. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) redesigned the old building as a pilot test for studying the effectiveness of different energy-saving and energy self-sufficient technologies. The building comprised different designs and technologies to help reduce its energy consumption and generate electricity by itself.
The designs included vertical greening on outer walls for lowering air temperature, solar chimney and duct for stimulating natural ventilation, roof integrated photovoltaic for solar power generation, and daylight mirror ducts for maximizing the usage of sunlight and reducing energy consumption on artificial lighting.
The building was connected to the smart grid so that it could send the extra electricity generated to other users in the grid or draw electricity from the grid when it could not generate enough energy for consumption.
We followed the BCA officer and had a tour within the building. He explained a lot about the functions of different designs of the building to us. Through the tour, we learned much more about the construction technologies for energy saving and increasing energy efficiency of a building, which would definitely benefit us in our future study of energy engineering. It was a very meaningful visit.
Although it was said that the Zero Energy House was not a very successful example (as it failed to be truly energy self-sufficient with its application of the air-conditioning system greatly increasing the energy consumption), it was still a good demonstration for reference. We hope that in the future, not only in Singapore but also in Hong Kong, new constructions could all adopt these energy self-sufficient technologies and the energy efficiency of the old constructions could be improved with some simple energy-saving strategies, thus protecting our environment.
The tribal dances and the fire-eating display greeted us with warm welcome. We rode on the zebra sight-seeing coach and took a tour in the zoo. There were many nocturnal animals, such as Indian Rhinoceros and African Lions.
We enjoyed the Creatures of the Night Show the most. The Hyena and the Wood Wolf were so cool and muscular. We were even surprised to see the small nocturnal recycling bins for cans and bottles.
In the morning of our fourth day in the trip, we went to the NeWater Plant. A question had been asked, “How is new water produced?” In fact, new water can be produced through four main processes.
Water is a valuable resource. We do need to conserve it. While we enjoy the water, let us think about the value of water. (Always remember: Treasure → Save → Enjoy)
Day 4 was our last day to stay with the NTU buddies. We had great and amazing moments with all of them. We truly believe that we will definitely meet again, so please don't forget us!
After visiting the plant, we all moved to the Universal Studio Singapore. It was a theme park located within the Resorts World Sentosa. The park consisted of seven theme zones, i.e. Madagascar, Far Far Away, The Lost World, Ancient Egypt, Sci-Fi City, Hollywood and New York. It was our first time to come to the park that extremely excited us.
One of the remarkable spots in the park was the Shrek 4D Adventure in Far Far Away. If you are fans of Shrek and Princess Fiona, you should not miss the 4D movie. Here we can feel, see and also hear the action right from our seats like joining the adventure in the movie. But you have to prepare for the spiders suddenly coming out.
Another memorable amusement rides was the Revenge of the Mummy located in Ancient Egypt. It was an indoor roller coaster plunging into total darkness. We could ride face to face with warrior mummies and scarab beetles! People who love the mystery and exciting roller coaster must try this ride.
A fantastic show called Water World impressed us a lot. Water World performed live water show with stunts and breathtaking film plot. Every gunshot, every explosion pushed the story to the climax.
Have you ever watched Transformer before? It was a science fiction film about aliens transforming from cars to huge robots. After wearing 3D glasses, we feel like we were one of the soldiers.
Lights, Camera, Action!™ hosted by Steven Spielberg was also an interesting experience to us especially as we did not really know how films had been produced.
It was a tiring day with an enlightening visit to an innovative new water plant and an exciting and fun experience at an entertaining theme park.
Gardens by the Bay were the wonderland in Singapore. We have never seen such a beautiful garden before. In the flower dome, there were different species of plants growing inside a dome with a low temperature. It was unexpected that all of the plants could live under the same condition, especially the cactus.
The waterfall in the cloud dome surprised us a lot. We understand why the government is willing to invest so much here. Humans need the comfort of the nature but the gardens were artificial and the beauty was man-made instead of being naturally born.
A bit strange but true, Singapore left us a piece of wonderful memory about durian food! Not only because of its unique taste, but also the happiness inside during every moment with my beloved SEE friends.
It was the last day of our tour. We think that Singapore is a clean and bright country with educated citizens. We hope we can visit this green country again in the future.