Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Merlion stole my girlfriend

Weekend Today, 2 - 3 April 2011, Column
Source Website:
By Mayo Martin, 04:46 AM Apr 02, 2011

PHOTO: It's a little creepy to spend the night with the Merlion.
Artwork by YEN YOK
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd

PHOTO: Mayo Martin
The writer is the arts correspondent at Today.

How a night at a hotel resulted in one writer losing an epic battle for romance to a cat-fish
I HAD never actually thought of the Merlion as romantic competition.

After all, it's got a lion's head and a fish's body. While I am no matinee idol myself, I at least have use of my limbs. Which is good when running errands for women.

Also, as far as hybrid mythical creatures go, the Merlion is a bit of an oddity.

Griffins fly, look cool and are endorsed by Harry Potter. The Sphinx is very articulate and you know you'll have a decent conversation with him - when he's not speaking in riddles, that is.

This dude, on the other hand, seems to have a hard time holding in the contents of its stomach. Which doesn't make him a particularly good house pet.

But that'll teach me to underestimate the competition.

PHOTO: In celebration of the Singapore Biennale 2011 (any event that happens every two years), Japanese artist Tatsu Nishi decided he wanted people to have a different experience with Singapore’s tourist icon the Merlion (other than touristy gawking at the spewing statue from afar…), and constructed the Merlion Hotel.

PHOTO: What makes the Merlion Hotel so unusual is that it’s built directly around the actual Merlion statue sitting at the Fullerton Bay area! In the day time, people can come face to face with the Lion Headed-Fish, Tailed creature, and at night, guests will get to spend the night up close and personal with it.

I was given the chance to stay at The Merlion Hotel - a work by Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi for the Singapore Biennale in cooperation with the Fullerton Hotel and Credit Suisse. The hotel, as you have probably read, is built around the head of the Merlion.

PHOTO: Merlion Park
Only the miniature Merlion is visible (unfortunately, the normal Merlion is temporarily wrapped up in the Merlion Hotel in the background).

What the heck, I thought. Yeah, I'm not the Merlion's biggest fan but I am a huge fan of hotel rooms. Especially if they're of the five-star variety and don't cost me a cent. Surely I can just ignore the ol' guy, soak up in the bathtub (which incidentally has an excellent view of Marina Bay) and spend the rest of the night watching Animal Planet on cable?

It started promisingly enough. At 8.30pm on the dot, my girlfriend and I were led up the stairs by our host.

PHOTO: The Merlion Hotel, which is Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi's one-of-a-kind project, comprising a luxurious temporary hotel suite constructed around Singapore’s iconic landmark and mascot, The Merlion. This unique masterpiece will open in the day for public viewing and in the evening for guests to check in for an overnight stay; all 32 nights at the hotel were booked within an hour of the opening of the reservation line. By shifting the citizen's proximity to that of the sculpture itself, Nishi stages an uncanny encounter with a public landmark in the intimacy of a private hotel room.

She opened the door into the room. There was a glint in her eyes as she waited expectantly for my reaction.

"Welcome ... to the ... Merlion Hotel!" she said with aplomb.

"Thank you. Can you show us where the bathtub is?" I mumbled, trying my best not to make eye contact with the giant kitty-fish smack in the middle of the fancy schmancy room, right behind the queen-sized bed.

My eyes roamed around the plushness of it all. Not bad, not bad at all.

PHOTO: Room with a roar: Singapore landmark transformed into hotel
Singapore Biennale 2011, from 4 April to 5 May

By Simone Kane, Feb 25, 2011

"Looks great! Where's the TV?"

"I'm afraid there's none."


"There's no TV in this room."

"Erm, what about wi-fi?"

"There's none, too. The idea is to spend quality time with the Merlion."

PHOTO: A new spin on the concept of strange bedfellows…Merlion Hotel Singapore

I looked at my girlfriend in terror. "It's a trap!" I wanted to scream, quoting Admiral Ackbar, but it was too late: She had already found a new object to lavish her attention on. She happily ignored me, circling the Merlion and taking photos of it from 15 different angles.

"Look, it has cute whiskers!" she giggled. Click. "I never knew it had whiskers!" Click.

Whatever, I thought, there's always the view.

I opened the balcony window that faced Marina Bay Sands and was greeted by ... tourists in bumboats taking even more photos. Of me. Standing in the balcony. Of what was, for the night at least, my hotel room.

PHOTO: Faced Marina Bay Sands

Brad Pitt, I hear you.

No quality time with the TV, no quality time for myself - perhaps I could have quality time with my girlfriend?

An hour later, and after I'd pried the camera from my reluctant girlfriend's hands, we eventually found ourselves snug under the sheets.

Which lasted for about 15 minutes until she suddenly piped up.

"I like him."

"Huh? Who? What?" I said, disoriented, as I looked around.

"The Merlion, silly. Don't you think it's like having a big pet inside the room? He's sooo cute," she said, pointing at its reflection in the glass door at the foot of our bed.

I looked. It was looking back at me. I could swear it was grinning.

During the day, the Merlion Hotel is open to the public so anyone can take photos of this strange sight of half the beast emerging from the floor in the middle of a hotel room. It's fun and novel.

PHOTO: Suite interior layout of Merlion Hotel
This is the real Merlion which is transformed into a hotel.
This is the suite interior layout .

But spending a whole night with the Merlion is a different thing altogether. It's like the proverbial elephant in the room - except with scales and a mane. You can't ignore the fact that It's. Just. There. And then it steals your girlfriend right under its nose.

The guy may not be a griffin or a Sphinx - but he sure has skills.
By Mayo Martin, 04:46 AM Apr 02, 2011
The writer is the arts correspondent at Today.

PHOTO: He will starts sprouting water through his mouth soon...

PHOTO: Merlion Park, Singapore

PHOTO: Crossing a flyover/bridge from Esplanade (towards CBD), will get you to Fullerton Hotel and one of Singapore’s major icons – The Merlion.

PHOTO: Merlion Park

PHOTO: The Prodigy Concert Poster by Emek
Emek’s new concert poster for an upcoming Singapore performance by The Prodigy