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Bits and Pieces from Singapore

June 14, 2012

It’s been well over a month since we were in Asia, but I’m still pretending that it was yesterday.  Because it’s cold here and my thesis is due soon, and it makes me feel better to remember that last month I was sticky with sweat and my biggest concern was the interesting possibility that a coconut might fall on my face and break my nose.

Some notes on Singapore, in no particular order and with no discernible linking qualities (I have been to the bowels of thesis-writing hell and back again and by god, do I only want to write in non-connected paragraphs from now on):

Raffles Hotel

Old Tommy Raffles again.  Yes, the founder of Singapore is still relevant to modern-day tourists.  Inasmuch as there is a hotel named after him.

My parents, who were kind enough to gift Jake and I with a nice hotel room in Singapore, decided not to book us a room at the Raffles.  Something about the cheapest rooms being $700 a night…  Apparently there is a price you can put on the love of your child.

But we went there anyway, just for a drink.  The Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel is the birthplace of a drink called the Singapore Sling–and you kind of have to try a thing when you’re in its birthplace.  So we did.  It was very pink.

It tasted pink too.  Pink and expensive.  I’m actually a little embarrassed to mention how much it cost.  When I told my parents about it, I said that it was by far the most I’d ever spent on a cocktail.  And when they speculated as to what this sum might have been, they were still about $10 under.  So this maybe a once-in-a-lifetime kind of adventure.  If I start saving now, I might have enough for another one by the time I manage to get back to Singapore…

It was fun though.  Largely because that box of peanuts on the table was for shucking all over the floor.  YES.  Making a mess is one of my hobbies.

The floor was covered in peanut shells.  It was great.

Humidity

Humidity is my kryptonite.

I was lucky enough to grow up in places where humidity just isn’t a thing, and I think it spoiled me.  When I was 16 and moved to Tennessee it very nearly killed me.  I totally understood why all the Southern ladies Vivien Leigh played in movies were so crazy–it was the weather.  It does nothing good to your mental health when you step outside and start choking on air.  Terrible.

Singapore just about broke every record I had in regards to ‘most humidest’.  Maybe a picture will suffice as an explanation…  Jake turned his camera on, one day after we’d been wandering around for a while, and this happened:

That’s an actual photo–no computer touch-ups.  The weird hazy effect is the camera lens fogging up.  Like a bathroom mirror after a shower.  The air itself was perfectly clear, mind, it’s just that humid there.  We had to bring the camera inside, where it was air conditioned, to dry it out before closing it back up for the day.

Night Safari

I don’t have any photos of this experience, since it was dark, but the Night Safari was amazing.

What it is is a zoo that operates at night.  In the dark.  It sounds really terrible when I explain it like that, like some kind of Emperor’s New Clothes scam: ‘Oh, but don’t you see the animals in that dark corner over there?  No?  Well trust me, they’re definitely there.  Just look a little harder…’

(And yes, that’s the second time in a row I’ve referenced that particular children’s story.  It’s been on my mind lately.)

But you actually can see the animals creeping around.  I started out skeptical, since the flying squirrel was conspicuously absent from its enclosure.  As we moved on to the bats, I was thinking that it would actually be kind of awesome if the Night Safari didn’t have any animals and had been trading on the fact that no one wants to admit they were underwhelmed by this place that everyone else raves about.  My suspicions were coming true when we stepped into the bat walk.

‘Where are the bats?’ I asked Jake, since all I saw were trees.

He looked at me for a moment.  ‘Are you serious?’ he asked eventually.  ‘There are bats everywhere.’

So there were.  Situational awareness may not be a strength of mine.  The bat walk turned out to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.  They were crawling and flying everywhere.  Here, I should mention that I’m one of those weirdos that thinks bats are super adorable, so to me, it was kind of like being surrounded by flying kittens. I understand that this might not be the case for everyone.  Still, it was pretty awesome.

And so was the rest of it.  The sugar gliders broke my heart with their cuteness, the elephants looked way majestic all shadowy, and there was a baby giraffe.  All good things.

They also had a show where a zookeeper talked a bit about the animals.  It had an environmental theme to it, in that they taught the otters how to sort recycling into the proper glass/plastic/cans bins.  Um, where can I get otters like this?  I’ve already decided that my future holds a pair of goats in lieu of a garbage disposal.  I think recycling otters would be the perfect complement to this.  Then I’ll just need a woodpecker to stand in as a sewing machine and my life will be just like inThe Flinstones.

But back to the show…  They also had this bit in which they pretend their tiger got loose and murdered a keeper backstage.  Yeah, it was a little dark.  And their commitment to it was pretty intense.  Like, people with small children went running for the exits.  Even I was pretty sure we were all going to die.  I tried to rationalise it by telling myself that the odds of a tiger attack were slim.  But then again, I’ve been in about 6,000 earthquakes in the past year and a half (and that’s probably an underestimate), so statistical probability offers me very little comfort these days.

No one died though.  Hooray!

Merlion

Oh, the Merlion!  That ubiquitous icon of Singapore.  For the uninitiated, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a mermaid lion.  It sits on the waterfront and spits water into the harbour.  It gets its picture taken by everyone.

I went there in 2008, and here I was again in 2012.  Incidentally, I was wearing the same pants, which I realised once I started going through the photos.  This is probably a sign I need to go shopping.

Pretty much the only thing to do at the Merlion is take photos.  Sadly, Jake and I lacked the synchronised arm movements/matching outfits to make for a really spectacular Merlion photo.  Instead, we have to make do with these girls:

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. singapore sling sarah permalink
    June 14, 2012 3:48 pm

    I love this post and you know why.

    • June 14, 2012 5:18 pm

      I was THIS close to throwing you a shout out, but then I decided the subtle approach would be better.

  2. Tay permalink
    June 14, 2012 8:55 pm

    Haven’t you thought you were going to die (in earthquakes) so often now that this runaway tiger bit just re-traumatized you? Other than that it sounds awesome.

    At the Bird Park they did a show with Birds of Prey – it involved hawks swooping 30cms above your head. They also had a guy on a horse ride around with a falcon while playing the theme song from The Great Queen Seondeok, the best Korean soap opera of all time. It was hilarious.

    Stay strong in hell (i.e. postgrad)

    • June 14, 2012 9:06 pm

      Honestly, I may have cried just the teeniest, tiniest bit during the tiger thing, but I feel really pathetic admitting to that. Shouldn’t I be de-sensitised by now? ‘Oh, another near-death experience? Hooray!’ (she said sarcastically, but with mad stoicism). Such a wimp.

      The Bird Park sounds sweet! I’m putting it on my list for next time.

      • Tay permalink
        June 17, 2012 11:33 pm

        when you come visit me and Richard when we live there we can go to the bird park again. I will seriously watch anything set to that theme music, even paint drying.

        That doesn’t sound pathetic, I think that once that shiv happens to you you are just sensitive to it so you get stressed about it easier than if it had never happened….Guess it’s just lucky we never joined the army and did more stressful death stuff….

  3. June 15, 2012 9:07 am

    The only other place I’ve seen the peanut shells on the floor of the bar thing is in Queenstown…

    • June 15, 2012 9:43 am

      There’s a place like this in New Zealand?! How have I not been there? I wonder if Wellington has such a magical, messy bar…

  4. LEIGH permalink
    June 15, 2012 10:17 am

    I’ve being in a bar on the border of NY and CT that let you chuck the nut shells everywhere – can’t remember much else of the bar as it was dark (and seedy). Hurry up and finish that thesis so I can read more of these posts they help me pass the days in cold and windy UK.

    • June 15, 2012 11:24 am

      Isn’t it summer in England? Why is it cold and windy? Oh, right… It’s England.

      If it makes you feel any better, we’re having one of those weeks of Antarctica winds. Down to 2C in Wellington today!

      I’ll work on posting more often to help you pass the time :)

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