Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Singapore

Various random notes on my recent (though not that recent, I started this a while ago) Singapore trip...

Singapore Air is fucking awesome. My new favorite airline, with a bullet. Arrested Development, the Office, Ali G, Corner Gas, Scrubs, other cool shit like that, all on demand. Plus, Mario 1. My flight to Singapore was 6 hours long, I was on less than 4 hours sleep, and I lucked out with a row to myself, yet I didn’t nap at all, because there was simply too much TV to watch. I’d honestly consider flying Singapore Air to some random city for no good reason and returning the same day, just because the entertainment is that good.

I checked into my hostel (yeah, sucks to stay in hostel when you’re damn near 30, but hotels in Singapore are really expensive, and there’s no dirt-cheap hotels in the center of town like in Hong Kong) and tried to nap, but it was too fucking hot, as the hostel only runs the AC at night. Hippies. I woke up at around the time of the hostel’s neighborhood (Little India) walking tour, but it wasn’t being run do to lack of interest. The woman at the desk did tell me that I could go into the common room to find Rachel, and that this Rachel wanted to go to the restaurant that the walking tour had planned. The Rachel turned out to be quite cute. The notion of me, on no sleep and completely sober, walking up to this attractive girl I didn’t know and asking her to dinner was beyond preposterous. The woman at the desk may have well suggested that I charm a snake or somehow transform into a seal, as these would be more likely scenarios.

I ended up eating alone at an Indian restaurant. This was something quite different for me. By Indian restaurant, I mean straight up Indian restaurant. Up until this point, my experience with Indian restaurants had been India Palace in Lawrence, and high-end Indian restaurants in New York, Chicago, and London. This was definitely my first time in an Indian restaurant where I was the only person there who was not Indian. I ordered a chicken tandori (seemed accessible enough) and was served a strange looking plate where I recognized a total of two of the 9 or so things on it - 1) chicken, and 2) rice. I am sure I ate it completely wrong, utensil-wise, but after asking the waiter for tips on how i should go about eating this assortment, it turned out to be awesome.

I moved on to the ultimate in Singapore tourist douchebaggery - going to the Raffles hotel for a Singapore Sling. In my Asian travels, I’ve discovered that I rather like heading to the most expensive hotel in town and having a drink that costs more than my shabby nightly accommodation. I’ve done it in Hong Kong, Manila, Jeju and now Singapore. I thought about doing it in Daejeon a couple weeks ago, but the $35 a night Rodeo Motel where I stayed may well have been the finest hotel in town, so that wouldn’t be too exciting. Anyway, in Singapore, it turned out not to be very fun, since every out of towner seems to go to the Raffles for a Sling, so the place was chock full of riff-raff like me. A bar full of Marla Singer-type (though, sadly, not Helena Bonham Carter-type) fakers made me feel like the fraud that I was.

The next day, I hit Singapore pretty hard. I was all over town, and found, amongst other things, extreme rarities in Asia, including an Orange Julius stand and a Borders. I live in a country where most bookstores English sections range from Grisham to Clancy. A three-floor all-English Borders was almost beyond my comprehension, I think I almost fainted. Don’t worry, I wasn’t just looking for American shit, I also ate some killer Chinese food and went to the surprisingly awesome Singapore Art Museum. But oh, the Borders...

At night, I went to Singapore’s famed Night Safari on a trip from the Hostel, with some fellow hostelers. After people got split up, as people in a large group tend to do, I ended up with a tall Aussie dude, an old chick, and Rachel, The Rachel from the previous night. I was immediately interested in talking to her, and of course went into tank mode as only I can. We started by seeing the animal show, and others were speculating what might be in the show. I quipped that maybe it would be a tiger fighting a monkey with a knife. That one, well, didn’t land. Later, we passed the leopard enclosure, and I noticed that the non-scientific name of the animal was simply “leopard.” Here, my winning joke was, “why isn’t it, say, a northern reticulated leopard or a Sri Lankan leopard rather than just plain leopard?” There may have been a polite guffaw to this one, from the old chick. And that, right there kids, is why somebody as devastatingly handsome as myself has such a large degree of knowledge in the field of internet porn.

Later on, after I’d given up any attempt at humor (which pretty much means any attempt at conversation), Rachel asked the three of us if we had ever been to a specific temple on the outskirts of Bangkok. That’s the other funny thing about Singapore. It’s amazingly accessible, you can fly there from anywhere, the public transit is easy, the food and the weather are always agreeable, it’s clean, and everyone speaks English. It seems like the perfect place to start an Asian trip, soft-landing wise. Yet, nobody starts out in Singapore. Every single western person I talked to had already been to several other Asian countries. Rachel automatically assumed that the tall Aussie, the old chick, and I had already been to Bangkok, and it turned out that all three of us had. I’d venture to guess that 89% or so of all westerners that come to Asia for the first time land in Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, or Beijing. Maybe more.

I had one other mildly interesting Singapore adventure, but I’ve gone on long enough today. I know I need to work on shortening these here blogs.

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