Back in the Garden City Part II

Trip Start Oct 01, 2007
Trip End Apr 21, 2008

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wrapping up my travels before heading back to New York for good this time. It will be over on Monday April 21 and I to be honest I can't wait. This leg has been particularly hard on me on the work front and I am simply ready to go home and get settled and get back into my life. I plan on waiting a bit after I return to actually reflect on this trip before making my final entry because I don't want it to be jaded by these past few weeks.  

So as I said previously, this time I have elected to stay in the Orchard Road area of SP, which is known for it shopping and come to find out... its "ladies." Ha-Ha. I have been spending time on Orchard Road, as it intersects with Scotts Road where my hotel is just a short walk away. I have a beer or glass of wine after work or do some shopping/looking and grab dinner or have a coffee and people watch. This is a great place to people watch. After a while you can categorize people and there seemed to be a particular type of woman that kept popping up. Very typically, hanging out with a Western looking man or men that are decidedly "non-locals." Now, these are not the kind of ladies that hung out in East Stuart near the crack houses or who call Times Square home and say Sugar. No, they are different and not really noticeable, unless you take the time to notice them. Apparently there is a place called Orchard Tower that is known as Four Floors of Whores. I personally, have not made it to this venue. I stick to my sidewalk cafes and watch "The Ladies of Orchard Street" and think of the Missy Elliot song "Work it" - girl, girl, get that cash. If it's 9 to 5 or shakin' your ass. Ain't no shame, ladies do your thing. Just make sure you ahead of the game. Ha-Ha. Who knew. Nobody told me about this. But it is a perfectly safe, hip, upscale neighborhood, the kind Eliot Spitzer is used to hanging out in I am sure. =).

Sunday April 13, 2008 - After being a bum much of the day Saturday and drinking beer and reading Into the Wild while chilling at the Boat Quay, I decided to take the Singapore River Cruise today and headed out via subway to the Boat Quay again. I had lunch at some Italian joint on the water and than jumped on the bum boat and cruised up and than down a span of the river in a 45 minute canned recorded presentation. But it wasn't crowded, just me and one of couple, and the day was nice (sunny and hot) so I just enjoyed being out on the water and taking in all the sites that I had seen from land or hadn't had a chance to get to yet. Mostly things similar to Boat Quay or Clarke key that centered around Singaporeans two favorite past-times of shopping and eating.

Read: Eat, Pray, Love (come on I almost had to while I was in India), couldn't put down Into the Wild after I saw the movie and am finishing up the Last Concubine - just something I picked up at Borders, while shopping on Orchard Street.

Eating: The food is so good here. I am trying to sample as much of it as I while still being healthy. I have given up my ethnic breakfasts and am back to my western ways, except I have a salad with my egg whites. Yes, a salad. I have gotten particularly used to this custom. I think it is just "hotel" because salad is not a staple over here (see next sentence). I wonder if they will put that on the breakfast menu in the cafe at work when I get back? I have a feeling that might prove difficult. Lunch is a bit harder as my co-workers will not have "lettuce" with me, so I have whatever with them. Luckily we dodge each other a few times a week and I can grab a salad or get sushi from this place that I like.

Listening to: Accelerate -the new REM album..woo-hoo, going to see them in June at Madison Square Garden. It has been a long time, both since I have seen them live and since they put out a kick-ass album.  Jessica Sonner's new CD, All We Need. Oh, and my new workout play-list on my Ipod...enough said on that one.

Friday April 18, 2008 - It has come upon my last weekend in Singapore and I must play tourist and do all/some of the things I have put off until the last minute. I was going to work through the end of the month and tack on some vacation over here but have decided it is time to get home. So that being said I started off the weekend by taking out the girls from my office for lunch. I have encroached on them for over a month and they were gracious to say the least. So we headed down to the waterfront and lunched on pepper crabs (a Singapore signature dish) and some interesting desserts (the prime word here being interesting). I was brave and tasted them. I have become particularly fond of sago, refreshing little beads of, uh something I think flour, that is usually served with fruit in some format. Today it came with 3 fruit sorbetish kinda concoctions in varying electric shades of red, green and orange. I must admit it was very good and probably preserved some part of my body for all eternity. After work I was so tired that I just headed back to the hotel and had some beers at the bar and listened to Jenny and Fredo sing some songs. They have been here since I got here and have been belting out elevator music every night in the lobby bar. We have met over the course of the past month, as I tend to stop in now and again to have a drink and relax after work or a weekend adventure. Now every time I am there they play some New York related song (New York, New York, New York State of Mind etc) and dedicate it to "our dear friend Brandy so far from home." ha-ha. Hey at least I am making friends.

Saturday started off with a subway ride to Chinatown. The subway here is clean and cheap and very easy to get around on. I have put off Chinatown on my previous visits because well, I was going to China. So knowing I was finally headed to the Chinatown in SP, made me realize that my trip really was wrapping up. I took a trishaw tour, which is a bike with a sidecar thing on it, very similar to the ones in India, except the bike is on the side which makes it easy for them to talk to you while touring. It was only $16 US and I got to see not only the novelty section that has been restored and maintained for tourists, but all the surrounding land that has given over to growing commerce and changing demographics. I must admit when I saw my driver Elton ride in with his Ipod blaring hip hop I was like Hell No. Thank heavens he turned it off because it was a site in itself to maneuver this trishaw through the narrow and crowded streets of the touristy sections. It was enough with him blaring his horn at these poor people. I could not imagine it with Snoop Dog's Ego Trippin or Ray J's Sexy Can I blaring. It was cool to go to the Thian Hock Keng Temple, which is where the first Chinese immigrants landed and erected a temple as thanks for allowing them a safe journey. This was the exact spot they landed but now across the street instead of the sea (which I was kinda expecting, some odd fantasy that you would be able to stand there and imagine them landing etc. etc. forgetting you in the oh so modern city of Singapore where there is nothing left in its original form, not even the shoreline), there were office buildings. This is part of the reclamation that Singapore does/did to expand its land. I joked that soon they would be able to walk to Malaysia and FINALLY Elton my trusted Trishaw driver got my joke and here it was my last weekend. Ha-ha.

Elton and I got out of the Trishaw and walked around the Temple. He explained some of the stuff to me and pointed out things including the bats overhead. There were two gods in particular, who were best friends but died in a storm (one waiting by the bridge for the other, who got detained and later committed suicide over the death of his friend) I have seen offerings of many things on my travels including orange fanta and canned coffee, but never cigarettes. Elton explained that these guys were apparently big partiers and also liked a fag now and again. So people came and prayed to them and brought them their favorite vices. After my tour of Chinatown, I found a Hawker Center and sat down to what I must admit was one of my favorite meals on this whole trip. It was so simple and so cheap but it was just amazing. I sat in the street and slurped  my noodles and meat and sweated and just soaked up being in the moment knowing there is a good likelihood I will never be here again. If I do make it back to Singapore for work, which despite this leg of the trip I hope I do, my weekend(s) will be spent exploring other spots of SE Asia (Bali, Langkawi, Borneo, Cambodia, etc) and not spent hanging around here. After that I spent the next few hours shopping and got myself a bunch of souvenirs and just took everything in. Sunday I headed to the Botanical Gardens and just spent some time hanging out taking in the sites and sweating (this place is hot) and than headed back to the hotel to pack. I somehow had to figure out how to get all my stuff into my bags. I drank a beer, called downstairs for a 5am wakeup call and went to sleep.

See you back in New York to wrap things up for good. Thanks. Brandy

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bloomer on

It might be tiny,
But Singapore is a beautiful place, easy to spend time in.
Good luck with 'reverse culture shock' when you get back to the city, it can be a bit strange when you realize that you have done so much, but nothing much changes at home.
Always comes a time when one is ready to go back though. Safe journeys, I'm enjoying your blog and pictures!

bnbfsu on

Re: It might be tiny,
Thanks. I read you entry about the coming home shock and have prepared myself for it and don't plan to 'jump right back in to anything' well except work. I look forward to more of your adventures in the future. I will definitely be heading out on the road again in the planning where stages now.

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