Lion City I am currently in Singapore with Shane, the boyfriend. I won't bore you with the dull specifics of how and why I am in Singapore. I'll just start with ‘Flash! Bang! Plop! I'm in Singapore.'
And yes, that Tom Waits song has been on constant repeat in my head since I got here.
Singapore is its own nation and a city state in the true sense of the word. There's a lot of city to Singapore. Imagine the five boroughs of New York without the rest of the state and the United States as well. Then add humidity and air conditioning. You've got Singapore.
Singapore was built up as a gateway for commerce and trade. Sitting in a cluster of island nations that include Indonesia and Malaysia, it sits along the trade routes between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Once a British Colony, Singapore is a now a cosmopolitan mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Indonesian, and European cultures. English is the primary spoken language along with Mandarin and Malay. Sometimes all three are spoken at once. You can get by speaking English (or your own personal variation of it).
And then there's the shopping.
A lot of shopping. Pick your kind of shopping. Open air markets? Malls? Brand names? Crafts? Starbucks has been here for nine years. There are two Prada shops within three blocks of each other---I've never seen them grow so close together. You can shop non stop. You don't even have to go out into the humidity. There are air-conditioned underpasses that connect with underpasses and more underpasses with more shops and more malls and food courts. The key is to keep shopping.
I think America has lost its shopping way. We've lost the aesthetic pleasure of shopping as a society. Wal-Mart with its huge caverns is not true shopping. It's accumulating. It's gorging consumerism to the point of obesity.
In Singapore, you consume at a much more leisurely pace. Take your time. Everyone wears flip-flips, so no one lifts their feet. They just Singapore shuffle. No rush. No hurry. Spend money in a leisurely way.
I'm staying in one of the big hotels near Orchard Road (the main shopping road). It's kind of like the movie, Lost in Translation, except I'm not in Japan and I'm not married to Giovanni Ribisi. We're not in a huge hotel. It only has fifteen floors. We're on the fourteenth floor and have a great view of other hotels and apartment buildings.
The subway of Singapore is the cleanest and most organized that I've ever been on. There's even a glass wall that separates the platform from the train, so two sets of doors open when the train arrives. Even the platform is air conditioned, and there are no strange smells.
In addition to shopping and riding the trains, there are other things to do. There are museums and Chinatown and theatre. I was a little disappointed by the Botanic Gardens. They are doing major reconstruction, so instead of pretty flowers, I got jack hammers.
I've heard more pop music in a week than I've heard in a month back home. Everywhere you go, the hits just keep coming. J-Lo has a new album coming out. Uhah-uhah-uhahhh.
The big celebrity gossip/news is that actors Li Nanxing and Yang Libing (his wife) are separating. Now you know.
I like Singapore. The people are friendly and sorta understand my English. Sure it got a little wild when the US Navy showed up. However, if you want to go to Asia without feeling like you've left the United States, go to Singapore. Apparently, you can even get good steak here.
Finally, when I mentioned to Shane that I was gonna name him Shane for this post, he asked if he had to get his teeth knocked out or sing ‘Sunny Side of the Street'. I told him no on both counts.