Singapore - the sanitised city

Trip Start Jul 21, 2009
Trip End Aug 31, 2009

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Welcome to the sanitised city. Everything clean, everything orderly... come to think of it... everything in English. A fantastically easy start to SE Asia so far, since everything feels very safe and domesticated...Cars drive on the left, signposts and adverts are in English and even the electric plugs are English size! I'm escaping the midday heat and crazy humidity for a little while by writing this.

Here's a few lessons I've learned so far:
Lesson number 1: Always pack toothpaste and a toothbrush on a long haul flight… you'll have to trust me. But after flying across continents for over twenty hours, including a three hour delay in Beijing due to thunderstorms, and the final leg on a crusty, dilapidated 737, feeling jetlagged and more than a little bit frayed around the edges, and when you’re told that although you’re in Singapore, your luggage is actually still in CHINA, if you have your toothbrush, at least you can go to sleep in your hotel without dog breath! A small comfort…but a comfort indeed! Dad was definitely very right to be sceptical about Air China's ability to transfer luggage!

Lesson 2: Being "forgetful with the truth" was the only way to get into China. The country's got swine flu paranoia... passengers had to walk past thermal detectors in Beijing and sign a health declaration. Have I been in contact with anyone suspected of having swine flu? = No (A lie - half my class of kids were suspected). Have I had a cough, cold or fever in the last 7 days = No (A lie - but I'm better now - honest! - even though last week I felt like death and you probably would have had me quarantined)

Lesson 3: Jet lag's for wimps! Just have no sleep due to fidgety people on night flights and your body lets you fall asleep 7 hours earlier than normal, quite naturally!

Lesson 4: You have to search long and hard on Sentosa Island to find a peaceful, tranquil place to relax and be calm. It's the most touristic island in the universe - think piped pop music along outdoor walkways and escalators leading down hills.... fast food outlets and tarmaced paths... thankfully I found a beach to sit and read on without the harassment of a heavy bassline - where I could listen to the waves coming to shore and the wind rustling palm leaves - a chance to relax and find myself amidst the chaotic human creations that surrounded me!
Overall, I'm feeling in great spirits. I feel blessed to have had the most wonderful experience this morning - breakfast with the orangutans of Singapore Zoo. To look at them in the eyes, and see their thoughtful actions, like gesturing to hold hands with their zoo keeper, or a mother handling her baby, will stay with me for a long time. 

The zoo itself was very humane and full of some wonderful exotic creatures, although the cynical side of me wondered about some of the people visiting the zoo... the ones who never stop and stare, just clicking a camera and walking on...from creature to creature... from restaurant to merchandise shop... banging on glass to try to get an animal's attention... It made me ask, such is their addiction to sensory pursuits, just how different are they from the animals they photograph.
I'm also looking forward to meeting up with the tour group tomorrow - I'll be with them for 3 and a half weeks, travelling all the way up to Thailand. Before that I'd like to look at some Buddhist and Hindu temples, wander around the river side and maybe take a touristy Singapore Sling cocktail at Raffles hotel. By then, I'll be more than ready to experience a 'truer', more authentic SE Asia experience!


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solarmolars on

Singapore - the sanitised city
Good to see you can finally relax and enjoy the trip after what must have been an exhausting journey - I'll bet the authorities in Beijing were just waiting to pounce on anyone who so much as cleared their throat! I take it you've now got your luggage then?

Some great photos so far, especially of the orangutans - and keep up the search for rudely named shops, products etc, I'm sure you'll find quite a few more on your travels :P

Take care and enjoy yourself mate, keep us posted!


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