The Lion City

Trip Start Mar 14, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A local guy on my bus was assisting me across the border, and I arrived at the bus station in Singapore without any problems.  I was even able to trade the remaining Malaysian money I had with the guy for some Singapore currency.  I found a pay phone and gave Amy a ring.  Amy is the daughter of some family friends from home.  We had only exchanged a few emails, but she was kind enough to let me stay at her place.  She gave me directions, and I was eventually able to convince a taxi to take me there.  It was late at this point, so I got a quick tour of her home.  It was an old black and white house from colonial days with a pool and trampoline in the back, hot water showers, laundry, internet, air-conditioning, and a live-in maid.  When Amy told me I could have a bowl of cereal if I was hungry, it was all so beautiful I nearly cried, I really did.  It was the perfect place to regroup after two weeks in Borneo.

After a great night's rest in my own room, there were fresh, home-made muffins for breakfast (Amy is a home-ec teacher at an international school).  I would go on about how amazing it all was, but there's still much more to come.  I got a hot shower and took care of some things online that day.  In the afternoon, I met Amy's two children, Dylan and Chloe.  They're seven and nine if I remember correctly.  They would later call me a grown-up, which gave me pause...  That night was salmon rolls and cous-cous for dinner with mango sorbet for dessert.  Mhmm.  Then there was t.v. time at night.

The next day, I took a public bus, which are never easy to figure out at first, to meet Mike, Amy's husband, for a foot massage.  That was real nice.  Thursday happened to be Deepivali, the Indian festival of lights.  That morning, Chloe showed me around the botanical gardens, which was fun.  And, that night, we went to this awesome party where there was awesome food and awesome people.  I still really like expats - having to leave your home to live in a foreign land is an excellent weeding out process.  On Friday, I got a free trip to the zoo with the kids and their friends.  Now, don't think that just because I was the only "adult" there that I was in charge.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  They're amazing kids, and I'm sure I would have fallen into the lion pit or something without them.  The Singapore zoo really is a world class place.  I really liked the Fragile Forest, an enclosed jungle with bats and butterflies and such.  After spending all day there, I went out for some delicious crabs with Mike and his friends. 

So, Saturday, I set out on my own to check out the town.  I took the metro to the art museum, walked around the Civic District, ate at Chinatown, and walked around the quay.  On my way back home, I rested in the Armenian church during a song prayer session.  Sunday was more of the same.  The family dropped me off at the Raffles Hotel on their way to go see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  On their recommendation, I went up to the 70th floor of this hotel for an excellent view.  Saw a fashion show in this mall I was passing through.  Afterwards, I caught a dance ceremony on my visit to Arab St.  Then, I took a walk around Little India.  It was so creepy.  Apparently, there are a lot of male, Indian laborers in Singapore that having nothing to do on Sunday.  There were thousands of guys just standing around doing nothing, literally nothing.  I waited around the first courtyard I came across, thinking there had to be something going on with all these people around.  But, no, they were all just standing there, doing nothing.  So that was interesting.  I hiked down to Robertson Quay to have dinner with a fellow Princetonian before getting a taxi back home.

After some more research on Monday, I finally decided to go to Darwin, Australia next simply because it was the cheapest ticket I could find.  So, I purchased the ticket and a holiday visa.  There was a good chance Australia wouldn't let me into the country on a one-way ticket, so I also forged an on-going ticket - a risky maneuver.  Fletch, from the Perhentians, was getting into town that night, so I met up with him in Little India.  I chilled for the next two days.  Woke up early Thursday to go on a canopy walk with Amy - doing sit-ups with monkeys swinging around was fun.  Had some delicious chili with cornbread before catching a taxi to the airport.

I really enjoyed my time in Singapore of course.  Amy and her family were so kind and generous and fun.  They're living quite a life there.  Asia was a blast - I'm really going to miss it.  One thing I've been wondering about: are there American flags everywhere back home?  Maybe there are and I just never really noticed while I was there.  But here, I definitely notice that they hang their national flags everywhere - go team!  Anyways, I've walked right up to the line (the equator, that is), and now I'm ready to finally see what life is like on the flip side - I hope I don't fall off down there. 
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