This is the view from the smoking lounge at Changi Airport. The lounge is roofless, though a tarp covers about half of the space. There is a rule in Singapore that no smoking is allowed in spaces which are air conditioned. I agree with the wisdom of this, as there’s a nasty and unclean feeling when one enters an enclosed space smelling of stale cigarettes.
I am one of 6 Caucasians on the Philippine Airlines flight – the first leg of which stops in Manila. In a way, I love being on the outside – being white in the USA is hardly a distinction and though I understand that this confers significant privileges it’s certainly nice to be in the minority, if only briefly.
I have conflicting thoughts about Singapore. While there is a beauty to this place, it’s multicultural enough – and peopled with enough Westerners, specifically – that I can hardly view it as exotic. No, it’s similar to San Francisco, as if that familiar city sudden shifted south to the equator and was transformed from chilly fog to steamy heat. The skyscrapers, the high cost of living, the smokers huddled – illegally close to buildings – to satisfy a never-ending hunger, the prostitutes walking home as I walk to work – these are the familiar stories and images of my native city.
I’m expected to return next year and will plan a bit differently – well, I will plan as I had little time to do for this eleventh-hour trip – and bring a lighter bag, fewer things, and more realistic expectations.
The familiar isn’t bad. It’s just something that has been done before. Perhaps Taiwan will not enthrall me when I return.
It’s hard to know. And that is what makes a journey like this so interesting.
What type of food does one eat in Singapore? Italian, naturally.
Rainy season in Singapore yielded benefits today: the evening is tolerably cool.
I took advantage of this lovely evening by dining outdoors at Casa Tartufo. Attached to the hotel, this is a delightful, relaxing restaurant (quite unlike its rambunctious neighbors along Ann Siang Road and Club Street) with a limited but tasty menu.
Tonight is my second visit, and as my appetite is not large I ordered a side salad and prosciutto. It was a simple and delicious repast.
Google Maps assured me that my commute would be no longer than an 11 minute walk. And I believed it. What Google Maps was not aware of is that a construction project partially obscures what is already a slightly hidden pathway recommended to abbreviate the walk. I paced up and down Ann Siang Road, then noticed the small-print instruction in Maps (take the stairs, and after some hunting located the appropriate detour.
This detour was a bit of a fright. A dark tunnel with a blind turn or two, that in the US – with the possible exception of
Yoder, Kansas – I’d entirely refuse to follow.
But this is Singapore. It’s too hot and humid for crime at 8 am. I tripped through.
Then came Boon Tai Street. Some people scampered across this thoroughfare with either incredible courage or stupidity . My inner rule follower wanted nothing to do with this band of miscreants; I walked to a crosswalk and braved the crush of commuters.
Notable along the way were numerous shop fronts in the colonial style, and mini altars.
Worth honorable mention: this tiny pub with a charming name:
In the end, I arrived at the office physically unscathed but a bit unsettled, and last night had a bad dream about traffic.
Singapore’s commuter rail system is a simple, convenient, and inexpensive means for navigating the city. I managed to return to my hotel from the Garden yesterday via the MRT.
Having gained confidence from that experience, this morning I decided to take the MRT rather than a taxi and visit Bugis Junction, saving myself about $20 SGD.
This savings enabled me to buy a cute little sleeveless top at the mall from Mu, something suitable for work in this incredibly hot and trendy city.
Loved the styles at Mu, but I was fortunate to find something to fit me as the clothing runs quite small.
Like malls in the US, this one has an elaborate food court and I was charmed by the name of this particular outlet:
The mall was a crush of bodies, and very loud. I slipped outdoors to call my husband and there it was noisy with traffic. The MRT was very crowded and noisy on my return to Chinatown. Life in a large city is a noisy proposition!
This city-nation is perhaps not the place for a life of sobriety.
There are quite a lot of rules here, and there are plenty of signs reminding one of the don’ts:
Some of the signs are quite explicit – a useful thing in this multinational city:
The stress of such rules takes its toll on the weary traveler, and warrants a bit of medication.