Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Singing the praises of Singapore

We have been in Singapore for four surreal days. I am sitting on our really comfy king sized bed, with two huge feather pillows behind my head. There is a glass of cold Tiger beer on the nightstand beside me. Marc is out at a museum and I have spent the morning booking our bus tickets to Melaka Malaysia tomorrow afternoon, booking a hotel for the next couple of nights and looking into package tours from Kuala Lampur to Taman Negara National Park.

Internet works perfectly and I can ask the front desk for anything I want and it will arrive immediately. The sky is blue and you could eat off the floor of the subway. The skyscrapers are so tall and shiny; I need sunglasses just to look at them. I have no idea what I am eating but it all tastes good. There is food virtually everywhere and it seems like everyone eats all day non-stop. At the hawkers markets all over town, you get a plate full of food for $2-$8. At a sit down restaurant the same plate costs $200. A coke is $6 and Sunday brunch at the Ritz Carlton is $250.

Toto, we’re not in India anymore …

But just in case we need a reminder, there is a little India here as well; full of all of the same food and fabrics bangles and temples we left behind just a few short days ago.

Singapore has to be on the list of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is beautiful like Vancouver is beautiful. Clean air, beautifully green all year round, modern slick architecture and great weather. It has been the perfect place to relax and regroup after months of non-stop moving around almost every day. I think we have both showered on an average of three times a day just to enjoy a shower that works with hot water at any time you want.

The posh hotels, restaurants and shopping malls are as opulent as it gets. And there are no crowds and everything is orderly. Even at the street food outlets, everyone waits their turn and you never hear any shouting. Can this place be real?

But not everything is easy in Singapore. It took us almost the whole visit to find a self-serve laundromat. We were determined to wash every trace of India off our clothes, travel bags and shoes. After three tries with the front desk, and a visit to the main tourist information office failed to offer positive results, a morning on the Internet scouring message boards finally gave us an address. As luck would have it, the purple rapid transit line, that happened to be the one nearest to our hotel, would take us right to the street where the Laundromat was located. A couple hours later we were all clean and ready to get covered in South East Asian smutz!

It has also been hard to get used to the people here. In India, everyone stared at us, pushed and shoved us, and urinated in the street right beside us. Someone was always spiting or taking a public bath in front of us. In Singapore, they all seem like robots in comparison. No one cares at all that we are here. It is kind of a nice change of pace! Surprisingly no one seems to know anything about anything here. If you ask a question, they are polite, but they don’t know the answer. In India, there was always an answer. Usually the wrong one, but you could be sure to get an answer. Everyone knew everything about everything.

It may have taken us a long time to get used to roughing it, but it certainly takes only an instant to get used to clean sheets, hot water and good food. Now that I am in charge of our accommodations, you can be sure I will be spending all my spare time looking for every boutique hotel for the budget traveler from here to all points in South East Asia. Wish me luck!

Next stop Melaka!

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