Singapore

Singapore. Very unique place. Very Cosmopolitan and very Asian, but without the usual madness that accompanies large Asian cities. I pity the fool who tries to ride a motorbike on the sidewalk here (the norm in many other cities!).

As expected, the food is incredible. I got the opportunity to sample some new stuff by meeting up with my old Bootsnall.com comrade and counterpart for the Mexico writing gig in 2007, Rob Paetz; he has been living here for a while with his new wife, a multilingual traveler he met in Tibet.

What happens when three lifelong travelers meet up in a Singapore suburb where only locals go?  They eat stingray, of course!

Rob and Felicia treated me to my first ever cooked stingray, which was delicious, then indulged me with a lesson on how to select good Durian fruit by smell. I thought they all smelled like creeping death, but I guess there is a science involved. Check out Rob’s photography on (www.momsaysimrunningaway.com)

By chance, the National Day holiday is going on this weekend in Singapore so there are free shows, live music along the gorgeous waterfront, and the place is buzzing with energy and activity. Unfortunately I have to leave for Kuala Lumpur before the fireworks begin to catch my flight, but it was still nice being here and seeing some of the festivities.

The weather here is unusually hot and humid, even for Southeast Asia. I changed hostels in Little India today where I found a great, cheap place called “The Hive” even though going there cost me a few liters in sweat. It turns out that half of Sumatra is burning and the smoke is blowing here, making the sky a nuclear white very similar to Beijing. The heat and humidity from the city are trapped. God bless the Greenhouse Effect!

I spent the night wandering around the nightlife area on the waterfront where I met some cool guys from New Zealand who spent over $700 that night on alcohol between the three of them. Unfathomable by vagabonding standards, but not by Singaporian standards when you consider that a cheap Tiger beer here can cost as much as US $12 a bottle — no joke!¬† We were the only ones not in slacks, dress shirts, and sporting bling bling, so we stuck to hanging out on a nice path over the water where less wealthy people socialize. Singapore is definitely a place of business; capitalism flows like a raging river here. Rather than the standard “Where are you from,” conversations typically start with “What do you do?”

When someone asks me that I usually run for the toilet or feign choking so I don’t have to answer.

I should have suspected all along, Little India is much more my cup of tea. The streets actually are dirty (the only place in Singapore?) and the smells are incredible…the entire neighborhood smells of spice and incense, sans the sewage. Shops are cheap and I’ve already located the best naan bread in town, which was no easy feat with 500 places from which to choose. I was so excited about this new place that I jaywalked across the main road today. So far so good, but maybe they’ll send me a citation in the mail or something.

My mammoth travel juggernaut of a project which has to be done at some point keeps popping up on my radar: India. Next year?

In just three days I have already spent as much as I do in a week in Malaysia, maybe more. You have to pay the price to play in such a developed and cosmopolitan city like this. But you get what you pay for; everything works here. I haven’t once been run over by a Redbull-crazed tuk-tuk driver, the taxi drivers all use their meters (an unnatural phenomenon in Asia), and things truly do fit what every traveler says about Singapore: “orderly.”

Unfortunately, I only get one night here and then its back to KL…which isn’t really that daunting. An easy six-hour bus ride across the lackadaisical border and I’ll soon be on my way to what is strangely becoming my new favorite city in Asia. Don’t ask me why, I don’t even know. Maybe it’s the constant food buzz that I maintain here doing strange things to my brain.

It’s hypocritical and not easy to write about a massive city that I only get three short days to explore, so I’ll keep this short. Singapore is definitely worth coming back to, and it’s full of interesting people, expats, and travelers. But if I had to pick a hub in Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur wins — for now.

Once agan, I’m off to put my passport back under a stamp-wielding official. Life is good!

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3 Responses to “Singapore”



  1. Yes, go to India! Sooner than next year!

  2. I love Singapore. Little India has the best food.

  3. I’m now in Little India – tell me more about this naan bread!

    Andy

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