Monday, January 31, 2011

My Singapore Weekend

I love vacations. Who doesn't? But lately it seems like mine always start in the middle of the night. Here's Allan loading luggage into a taxi a few minutes before 6 am.
Allan and I spent last weekend in Singapore, as he was on his way to Diego Garcia, an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. You could Google it, but Allan will be posting his adventures pretty soon.
It was a full travel day. Allan bought my ticket and requested, but didn't get, that flight for himself. His ticket was purchased by the DOD. So we met up at the Singapore airport. On the drive to the hotel, we saw this structure.
When I first saw it, I thought there was an iguana on top. Well, considering... tropical Asian harbor city, pointy front, so iguana.

Well, the architecture in this part of the world is certainly interesting. Did you see my Hong Kong blog?

The next day, I got a view from another angle and voila - it's a ship.

I've been told that this is a hotel and that the 'ship' on top is where the pool is located.

Singapore is tropical, (85 miles north of the equator) and very inter- national. You can see that before you leave the airport. There are four official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil (an Indian dialect). It's also very clean. You get fined for chewing gum, littering, smoking, and a host of other infractions. AND... the immigration form has this printed statement:


Since we arrived late in the day, we took a walk to look for food. Word is Singapore is great for 2 things - shopping and eating. I happen to have a very cordial relationship with Asian cuisine, and our first meal was Thai food. I ordered a cellophane noodle salad, which was hot - temperature hot and spicy hot. We had several other plates and didn't leave any evidence as to their contents.

Returning to the hotel, we stopped at the open air stage (above) to listen to Greek music.

We got a late start Saturday, because vacation or not, I am not a morning person. We walked toward Chinatown, started to get our bearings and I got hungry. Allan likes to plan everything, as in: "let's check out this area and then go over there and maybe we'll see a place for lunch". Yeah, like that will work. When I'm hungry, we eat.

After a quick stop for fish 'n' chips, we ended up in the Arabic section, which turned out well. I wished that I had a prom to attend, because I saw incredible beaded fabrics that would have made a great dress. I couldn't resist altogether, so I bought one of the plainest pieces I could find and I intend to make a sundress. There were great shops for rugs, and we found one we wanted. There was some haggling and we left with our purchase folded and packaged.

Allan saw a sign for scents and aromatherapy items, and insisted we stop. The walls of the shop were lined with bottles. You had only to describe the scent you wanted, floral, spicy, musky, earthy, and a bottle was chosen for you to try. Then you custom mix your fragrance. My nose overdosed, so I took unmixed scents, one mildly floral and one spiced.

Our shopping ended earlier that I liked. We walked for hours and had the rug to schlep back to the hotel, as well as the fabric and perfumes. I asked about shipping the rug home, but the guy at the shop convinced me I could carry it, which I did, all the way to Yokosuka.

The airports here supply luggage carts without a fee, so it wasn't a problem until I reached base. Once at base I had to get it to the train station, then home.

After some down time, we went to Raffles Hotel with the purpose of having a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar, where it was created in 1915. You learn all kinds of stuff right here.

The bar was filled with people who didn't mind the price of 25 Singapore dollars (about US$20) for a overly sweet concoction that was created specifically for ladies. No self-respecting 1920s male would have been caught having this feminine drink. It did not appear to be an issue in 2011.

It rained all day Sunday, so we stuck to the indoor malls, rather than the boutique stores. And look who's also famous in Singapore. We also passed Body Shop, Starbuck's, and a few familiar fast food spots. McDonald's is everywhere but what it's doing in Singapore is anyone's guess.

I had to take this photo. You're expecting moyel jokes, even this spelling. No, I leave it to you - say what you will.

There's a Japanese restaurant in Lakeland called Shin-getsu. That could mean big breasts or proctologist for all you know. Nah... it means new moon.

Here's Singapore's version of the 'food court'. Sunday, I chose Japanese for lunch. Allan said it was odd to buy Japanese food in Singapore, since we live in Japan. Not so much. We eat Chinese, Korean and Indian food routinely in Japan, so why not eat Japanese food here?

It was decorated with wallpaper that looked like leather bound classic novels in some British Lord's private library. You can see it along the top of the wall below.

Otherwise, it was Asian fast food. Everything looked good. We stopped here another time for some dim sum which you could buy on small plates, one or two pieces. It was close to the hotel, and we wanted something light.

If you care to, you can dine on stingray.

It's not all raw fish and rice here. We didn't try the stingray, maybe another time, but probably not.

Signs are commonly printed in English and Chinese, depending on the area of town. This sign is more interesting because of it's content rather than it's language. We didn't hear harmonica music. That would have been interesting.

Chinatown is the same everywhere. Red is the color of the torii, the gate leading to a Shinto Shrine, and I think the entrance to every Chinatown on the planet is decorated with a red gate.

When we got to this Chinese pharmacy, the owner was an enthusiastic salesman and very proud of his shop. I was contemplating buying the insomnia cure, but Allan moved on to a fruit stand, and I didn't want to lose him.

These ladies appear on the subway platform and on the cars. I don't really remember what the message was. Maybe it was "Hey, we're ladies, let us have the seat". People will give up a seat to an elderly or handicapped person, but men do not feel obliged to offer their seat to a lady or let her have a seat that is vacated. Whomever is closest (and fastest) get the seat.

We ended our trip heading in different directions. Allan has temporary duty, so I'll have 11 days alone.

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