Sorry to be so light on the writing this week. My friend Val is in town! And you know how that goes: friends before writing! So here's a little something to keep you busy.
Yeah, why didn't I think about posting these sooner? Val. It's all her fault!
June 11, 2000.
I flew First Class to Singapore.
I had one of those seats that reclines flat into a bed. Now THAT'S First Class. I flew for about twenty hours and misplaced Saturday somewhere. I left on Friday, arrived in Singapore on Sunday. Where did it go? One day, not long from now, I will experience the longest June 15th of my life...but that will be another story.
Singapore is one huge city. And I don't mean that Singapore is the city in the country I'm in; I mean that Singapore is the name of the country and the city - that's all there is. It's a teeny tiny island off the tip of Malaysia and it's all one big city. Single family homes are an extreme luxury here - maybe 10% of the population own private houses. Most people live in high rises - they're everywhere.
This is the safest city/country that I've ever been in. They are very proud of that fact and after having been to Brazil and Argentina, I think they *should* be proud - even their taxi drivers boast about it! There are warnings posted in different places that tell you the fines for this and the fines for that (on the subway: No eating or drinking - $1000 fine). There are even t-shirts that joke about it: "Singapore is a FINE country!" No molesting - $5000. No gum chewing - $100. No jaywalking - $500.
So I've had to restrain myself. : >
Actually, I very carefully cleared my bags out of gum.
Oh - and drug trafficking? DEATH. No repeat offenders.
Everyone speaks English. Well, okay, everyone that I've dealt with speaks English! The country is made up of several different groups so most signs are in 4 languages - Mandarin, Tamil, Malay and English. English is the common language that the gov't is pushing. It's not a very Asian-seeming place since all the street signs are in English, the buildings are all skyscrapers and because of the capitalism extravaganza going on. Big business is everywhere and many things are super hi-tech. I'm staying at a 4 star hotel (it's GOOD to be the traveling queen!) and you can't SPIT ($500 fine) without hitting a shopping mall. I'm stunned. Singaporeans shop like mad and they're currently having the great Singapore Sale, so it's turned up a notch. Everyone looks out for the bigger better deal. Newer. Faster. Better. Flashy. Stylish. Shop shop shop. Buy buy buy. They are marketing's wet dream. When we drove around - to lunch, dinner, sightseeing, whatever, I noticed that the people I was with tch-ed at old things. New things are highly prized. It's a brave new world...
I've eaten strange food: Century eggs - duck eggs buried in mud for a month or longer, in clay pots stuck in the ground and soaked in vinegar. One of the guys here told me it was soaked in horse urine. You want me to eat what?! He was kidding, of course. It wasn't bad at all, I liked it. But it sure did look weird! Fried Durian rolls - the worst smelling fruit I've ever experienced in my LIFE. The raw fruit smells like the worst god-awful sweaty socks you've ever smelled. And it's considered a delicacy! OK - who the hell was the first guy to say to himself, "Hey what do you suppose THAT tastes like?"? And you KNOW it was a guy...
I've learned the true meaning of certain words: Humidity. Enervating. Tropical. Oppressing heat. Sweat slicked. Sticky. I now understand my mother's need to braid my hair up repeatedly during the summer time: "Young Hatchet come here!" Braid braid braid. "I'm hot just looking at you! How can you stand to run around in this heat?" I can't understand how people can stand to TOUCH another person in this weather! There's no such thing as a cooling breeze - unless you're generating it by sitting in a moving vehicle or are close by a fan. The weather is either hot and humid or raining and REALLY humid. At night, the temperature only drops a degree or two, yet people wander around OUTSIDE in jeans and long sleeved shirts - with SWEATERS! OK, I know they won't always be outside (everything is air-conditioned - to DEATH) but the people wandering around the botanical gardens? Suddenly I'm glad to see gift shops inside parks and zoos...Sure! I'd be GLAD to wander around inside your lovely air-conditioned building and look at your overpriced t-shirts! I sweat while walking. I sweat while standing still. I sweat while THINKING about walking.
I get hit on by random men. Conversation starts: "Do you know where the orchid garden is?" He had just walked past the sign post...but I didn't know that until I passed it moments later. "Do you have a boyfriend?" That's pretty direct! "Yes, I'm married." Thank you, Eric! My orchid seeking friend quickly departs.
I see beautiful clothes I can't possibly fit and exotically beautiful women who I can't photograph. I'm alone, so I can't pull the patented "pose and switch" maneuver (Stand here and act like I'm going to take your picture, so I can photograph that girl!). Huge, dark, liquid eyes. Traditional Indian clothing. Non-traditional clothing. Almond shaped eyes and perfectly straight black hair. I start wishing for a "blind" of some sort to hide behind. An air-conditioned blind...
My air-conditioned bed calls to me...
Hatchet - She Who Travels A Lot