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Simplicity in Singapore

November 7, 2010

Singapore. Famous for the Merlion. After the last couple of amazing ports, I was looking forward to another day of adventure as we pulled into the tiny country at the end of Malaysia.

However, I don’t really have that much to say about Singapore. It was a nice place, very hot and a lot of fun. Singapore has many different ethnic groups sharing the same small space, and that makes for a nice bit of diversity. We travelled from Little India through to Chinatown, though we ended up skipping Arab Street. Which was a shame, as I would have liked to go there if I had have thought of it. Both Little India and Chinatown were nice, but the problem was, I have seen a ton of Chinatowns in my time, including Hong Kong just a few days ago, and I also visited Big India in September. Singapore didn’t really have any new great thrills in store for me, and in fact as I was walking around some of the less heavily-ethnic parts, it almost felt like being back home in New Zealand.

In Chinatown I did manage to have my first foot massage ever. I’ve never been that big on massages in the first place, and especially of my feet. It just feels kind of superior to ask a complete stranger to rub your feet for you, especially in an Asian culture where pointing your feet at people is often considered rude. But the girls I was with wanted to do it, and I figured I might as well try something new in Singapore. The three of us went into the parlour and took our seats in the dim light with the relaxing music washing over the hubbub of the markets just outside. Our masseurs came in – three men, two of whom I’m sure were quite happy to fondle the delicate feet of slender Japanese girls, and one who was probably a little miffed at getting the hairy white guy. I felt a strong urge to apologise.

After the massage, the only thing really left to do for the day was to go to the Merlion. This was really the big thing for me in this country. I had seen pictures of the half-fish, half-lion creature who spews water into the Singapore harbour many times, and was quite excited about finally seeing it. Sadly, the thing itself was actually a little underwhelming. It wasn’t quite as big as it had seemed in the photos, although it did have an extra-small one a short way away to make it feel better. There were some Japanese tourists – masters of taking photos which miss the point – taking a picture with the small version.

The day was wound down by getting some beer from a local convenience store, a couple of take-out kebabs, and sitting by the inlet, watching the lights reflect on the water and listening to the sound of the pubs where the only local people were the ones serving the drinks. And then finally, a dash back to the boat in order to make kisen limit.

I missed it by three minutes. The final stretch back from the station to the boat was much longer than I remembered, and my watch was set to a different time to the boat, so I ended up committing the cardinal sin. From now on, my kisen limit will be set 30 minutes earlier, and I had better make sure I don’t miss it again. Most annoying thing is, it feels like such a waste to have used my one chance on the city where I did the least! Well, better take more care from here out!

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