Bits and Pieces from Singapore
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):
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 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.
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!
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: