Monday, June 14, 2010

Sweating in Singapore - 6/9/10 - 6/12/10

My flight to southeast Asia took me from Denver to LA, where I met my traveling buddy John Edward, hereafter known as Jed, Jedi, or Jedburg.  Jed will be with me for the next 5 weeks through Singapore and Indonesia and I'm very glad I have him to travel with. After LA we had an 11 hour flight to Tokyo where we hopped on another 6 1/2 hour flight to Singapore.  Total travel time from Denver to Singapore was around 22 hours, which was kind of brutal, but worthwhile.

On my long flight to Tokyo I sat next to a Buddhist monk from Thailand, which made for an interesting 11 hours.  He was dressed in an all orange monk costume and even though he told me his name 11,000 times, I still can't begin to pronounce it.  I'll guess at the spelling and say his name was Tiktateetahyawsah.  He had been living in Tucson, Arizona for the last 10 years and was going back to Bangkok for a year.  In broken, but decent English, he quizzed me on my job, age, marital status, and whether or not I still lived with my family ,which is the norm for someone my age in many parts of southeast Asia.  Tiktatee asked me what percent Christian I was as if there is an answer different than 0 or 100 percent.  Maybe I understood him wrong, but I told him 100 percent and he seemed confused.  He later offered me what he called a "sweet" that he had made earlier.  It was a ball of sticky rice mixed with coconut milk, dried beans, and sugar, wrapped in banana leaves.  I asked him where he got the banana leaves since I couldn't think of any stores where you could buy the leaves.  He looked at me with monk-like sincerity and said "They come from banana tree," which made me feel like an idiot.  Oh well...we both got a laugh out of it.

Our flight from Tokyo arrived in Singapore around midnight and we took a cab to a part of Singapore called Little India.  Disorderly and pungent (but in a good way), Little India could be another country in itself.  Getting dropped off in Little India at 1AM was a little unnerving as we never heard back from our hostel on whether or not our room was confirmed.  After walking around several dark streets and asking various helpful Indians for directions, we finally found our place, Alie's Nest. 

We spent the next day walking around Singapore, which I'm convinced is one of the hottest places on earth.  I come from an area that's known for it's high temps and high humidity, but Charleston has nothing on Singapore.  It's a clean, ultra-urban city, but the air feels like you could swim in it.  Most of our time was spent walking around Singapore and exploring the British history there.  Where we stayed in Little India was really interesting and we were definitely the only American tourists.

Here are some of the high and lowlights from our time in Singapore:


-Great food (we even tried goat heart one night in Little India which ended up being quite tasty)
-Cheap and easy public transportation on the MRT (underground high speed train).  $2 will take you halfway across the Island.
-Interesting mix of culture including Chinese, Indian, and Malay.   Singapore is a melting pot like the US.
-Super clean and well developed.
-Low crime and tough laws make it safe.  Jed spit his gum out on the street on a dare and was in handcuffs within 5 minutes.
-Jed being called gay by a prostitute when he wouldn't take her up on her offer.
-Over air-conditioned shopping malls.


-1 million degrees in the sun; 1/2 million degrees in the shade.
-$10 beers and everything is generally expensive.
-Not a whole lot to do, but spend lots of money on tours.

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