“We sail tonight for Singapore, We’re all as mad as hatters here” Tom Waits
Andrew said he would meet us at our hotel at 6:30 and take us our for dinner. We went to the Chinatown area, to one of the famous hawkers malls, and ate seafood noodles and duck and kind of an omelette with radish.
We walked around in the market. It is Chinese New Year, and there are a lot of sweets and treats and lanterns and good luck charms!
Andrew dropped us at Merlion Park, and we looked at the statue of the lion, and across the bay to the Marina Sands Hotel and Sky Park. We walked back to our hotel room on Jalan Besar.
The next morning, we walked through Little India, and ate boiled eggs and coffee for breakfast. After visiting a lovely Hindu Temple, we went North, through a park, and then walked up to the far end of Orchard Road. Orchard Road is the high end shopping district. All of the most famous high end stores seem to be represented there.
We turned back to Little India, and checked out of our hotel, and went for the recommended lunch of scissor chopped curry. This seems to be a Singapore special. There are dishes of chicken wings, pork slices, cabbage, etc, The fill a plate with rice and you point out what you want on it. They quickly cut up the item into bite size pieces with a pair of scissors and pour black hoisin? sauce and curry sauce all over. Cost was about $4 per plate. Food is not expensive here in the small corner restaurants.
Singapore is an eclectic mix of strangeness. There is such a limited amount of real estate, that a simple downtown condo, would rent out for $5000 per month, and a “subsidized” condo would sell to a citizen for about 1.5 million. School is mandatory and heavily subsidized. My friend said they paid maybe around $10 per month or so. The population is very well educated and many people have very high end jobs. But even in a land of extreme wealth, you still need people to collect the garbage and clean the offices.
We walked down through the Arabic area, and visited several beautiful masjid’s. We strolled through the Marina Bay area, and stopped for fresh squeezed juice. We went through the Marina Sands Hotel, which feels like walking through a science fiction movie. As you emerge into the sunshine on the other side, you realize that we are the future, and that we are alive in our science fiction created world. The landscape, of giant tree sculpture buildings is unreal. I have watched these worlds in movies and books. I have turned the pages, dreamed about the ways that cities could be beautiful and interact with nature and not just be blocks of concrete, obliterating everything that might try to grow from the earth. We stood, with everyone else, just staring, wondering if it was real, or just an artists simulation on a giant movie screen. After about 15 minutes, we stepped inside the screen and became part of the future.
Everything paled after that. We walked around the bay, and back to the lion statue, where we watched a beautiful sunset. We walked back to our hotel again, having a very spicy mango salad for supper, on the way. Let me reiterate, spicy mango salad… I thought I was in Singapore, but I guess this recipe was from Indonesia… It was good, but yikes, did I mention that unlike the scissors cut curry, it was spicy?
On last night, we walked past a bar. There were half a dozen very young girls outside, in very fancy dresses, and heels that were so high they could hardly walk. My first thought was a bunch of high school girls at a prom. I asked if it was a wedding, and the one older guy laughed and said no, just kind of a disco bar. That is when I noticed the number 68 pinned to the satiny white dress, and looked back and saw numbers pinned to the red satin, to the yellow satin and it all clicked into place. None of the older men were dressed up. There were no young boys, just young girls. I’m sure they were all over 18, but not much. One day, will some men (and I underline some, since this is a very small subset of the population which I refuse to think of as real men) stop being animals? What pleasure does an ugly old middle age guy get, paying money to be with a girl that could be his daughter, or granddaughter? Do they not have to go home after and look in the mirror? Does it not hold a magnifying glass up to how pathetic their own life must be if, they have to pay someone to be with them? Why is it, that there are no brothels filled with young boys, and older drooling women rubbing their oiled chests. We went to the golden mile mall to catch the bus, and there was another bar. And another girl with the number 68 pinned to her waist.
We took our midnight express back to Kuala Lumpur, and this time none of the passengers got on the wrong bus at the border crossing. The ride was predictably uncomfortable, despite Nida and I getting two seats each.
We were dropped at about 5am, at a taxi feeding station, where the vultures descend on us. “Taxi ma’am? You can't walk there ma’am, very dangerous, someone will steal from you, so far, I take you, just 20 ringgits. “Look, I said, I just want to know which direction (insert street name which I have forgotten here) is? “Oh that is very too far to walk, 15 ringgits, I take you” “Can you just tell me if it is this way or that way?” “Oh ma’am, too far, too far. Not sure which way ma’am.” “Really? You don't know the way, but you want to take me there?” “I know how to get there ma’am, just not which way”
I tried to get wifi so I could call an Uber to the airport. Luckily there was a Starbucks. It did not open for until 7am. We wanted to be an hour away at the airport at 7am. But, their wifi was on! I filled out all of the information on their questionnaire, age, sex, phone number, please link to your Facebook account… why do they need to info-rape you for 10 minutes of free wifi? But yea! success! Wi-f…get a $#%^ code from your Starbucks server??? You ^$*^**(## Starbucks assholes, I hate your coffee too. I asked at the 7-11. “no ma’am, I cannot sell you a sim card until morning time” “Why?” “We are not allowed to sell them at night ma’am”. Is this a 7-11 rule, or a Malaysian law? I tried to go to the fairly nice hotel. “No ma’am, we can only give wifi to our guests ma’am, there are many restaurants around us ma’am, why don't you go to one of them and have a coffee ma’am, no none of them will have wifi ma’am. Is everyone in cahoots with the taxi drivers… It was really starting to look like we were going to have no choice, but to pick one of these guys and hope they actually took us to the airport for some only slightly unreasonable price.
There was building covered in twinkling blue lights across the street (small divided highway) that I wanted to check out, and another 7-11 store and a few other coffee shops. As we tried to cross the street, the taxi drivers pulled the same central american trick that infuriated me, and screeched up beside us almost running us over, and, of course, blocking our path to cross the street, with their big sad face sticking out of their widow. “Taxi ma’am” you can’t cross the street ma’am, very dangerous, I take you 10 ringgits.” “No thank you", we said sharply, and stepped around the car. A second taxi screeched up, so close that he practically ran over our toes. “You need to take a taxi ma’am”. My quiet little self controlled companion took over. Nida unleashed some quite indelicate language on him and I swear his hair blew back as she told him what she thought of his offer”. Didn’t know she had that much spunk! Gotta thank her for that one, because my resistance was getting pretty broken down at that point. I guess the other taxi drivers heard her, because they all just slunk away into their little taxi corner.
We made it across the street, and the lovely blue light place was a big middle eastern restaurant, with, wait for it, free wifi! We feasted on delicious chicken souvlaki and falafels and tabouli and baklava and got a really nice Uber to the airport.
|Beautiful lanterns in Chinatown|
|Giant Rooster - because it is the Chinese New Year|
|Each year some families honour their ancestors, by burning giant, beautifully decorated cardboard houses and piles of fake money!|
|The infamous lion statue|
|Cute little umbrella trees in Little India|
|Jellymen on Orchard Road|
|pretty coloured buildings near Little India|
|This building is shaped like a rhombus - so from some angles it looks two dimensional|
|The Marina Gardens Building|
|I am so sorry there are so many photos of the Marina Bay Park - it is stunning|
|Giant "tree" sculptures give a science fiction landscape|
|Aerial Walkway - a giant canopy walk|
|They are big!|
|Nida and I|
|giant baby sculpture in the park|
|The lion stature at night|
|Sculpture called "24 hours in Singapore"|