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Happy Happy People on the Platform

26 August 2008

About a month ago, I went to Singapore with my friend and former co-worker Amy. Ana asked me why I was bothering to write this post since it’s over a month old now, and I responded that, since I titled my blog Christine Wandering, I am morally obligated to write about the aforementioned wandering; it’s an implied contract with my readers. (All 5 of you – hi Mom, D.A.D., Ariana, Unity, and Dana!)

So why did I go to Singapore? Well, for starters, because I had to get out of the country …. I was going to leave that mysterious and let you all imagine the nefarious activities I could be getting up to here in India, but since some Indian immigration official might wander across this site, I’ll explain that the visa I have, while good for a year, only allows me to stay in India for 180 days at a time. So, needless to say, as I arrived at the beginning of March, it was about time for me to get the heck out of Sri Dodgearama. Since Amy had a couple days’ layover in Singapore on her way back to Australia, I figured I would just join her since I’m not much for traveling alone (a sentiment I am planning to test this weekend – more details soon!).

There’s not much to say about our time in Singapore (though I probably will say much); in many ways, it really was just a visa run and a chance to spend a little more time with Amy. If you knew Amy, you’d know why this was important to me – she’s an awesome friend, fun to be around, and so unintentionally funny almost every minute. For instance, when asked what in Australia could possibly be good enough to make people want to stay there, she replied, “New Zealand.” See, she’s that fabulous. (By the way, that was funny because NZ is not a part of Australia and because Amy is way too brilliant not to know that.)

Basically, our holiday consisted of three main activities – eating, shopping, and walking. As for the eating, it was so nice to have some food that didn’t have cardamom in it or taste like an Indian-ized version of some other cuisine. Amy is Chinese-Australian, so she made sure we had quite a bit of Chinese food, while exclaiming loudly HOW MUCH SHE MISSED CHINESE FOOD. We got stares.

Shopping was … interesting. Our second day there was characterized by non-stop pouring rain, so we headed to Vivo City, the largest mall in Singapore (which is saying a lot, since Orchard Road has about a bazillion and one shopping malls all on its own). We wandered in and out of stores, marveling at the array of items for sale but at the same time feeling rather uneasy at all the blatant commercialism that we’d lost touch with over the last 5-8 months. It was my turn to exclaim loudly HOW EXPENSIVE EVERYTHING WAS. Again with the stares. Despite many hours of shopping, we didn’t buy a single thing and eventually gave it up and went to see The Most Anticipated Asian Blockbuster of the Year, Red Cliff (big bloody battles on horseback – most guys I know would love it – but be forewarned that it is part 1 of 2 and ends right before the massive naval warfare begins).

Finally, we spent a ridiculous amount of time just walking (at least when we were not riding the subway – see below). It was so nice to walk along clean – scarily clean, in fact – footpaths and not be blasted by the sound of car horns. And I could have breathed that clean air for a decade. We were even out walking around past midnight; there were still people out, and no one hassled us, and amazingly, there were no mosquitoes (probably due to the relentless ad campaign about how standing water breeds mosquitoes, which leads to dengue fever and then instantaneous death). I enjoyed the walking so much that I spent pretty much six hours straight walking on my last day there (Amy had to leave earlier in the morning for home), which was all because I love the walking and NOT because I have a horrible sense of direction and got lost twice trying to find the Botanic Gardens.

However, beyond all the eating, shopping, and walking, my favourite part of Singapore was actually riding the subway, known as the MRT. I like me some goodly efficient public transportation. In fact, there’s nothing I like better, transportation-wise. For those of you not in the know, back in an earlier lifetime (that’s what it feels like these days), I spent the last year of college and the first year of my marriage working for a transportation management association, basically a fancy name for an organization that encourages people to carpool, bike, or take public transport to work/school/fun/etc. My part in it was small – slapping up some posters, organizing T passes, scooping ice cream when we won the Ben & Jerry’s party on Bike to Work Day, but I often turn to this time to assuage my guilt for currently owning an SUV.

Anywho, back to Singapore – the MRT was clean, fast, on-time, and kept us entertained by looping this wonderful video about combating terrorism on the subway, including scenes of carnage from terrorist attacks and a simulation of a train blowing up. Really put me at ease. The best part, though, was the announcement as we came to each stop. (I only heard it on the purple/North East line, but thankfully we rode that one every day!) Here it is (please imagine in pleasant English accent, which made it even more awesome):

Next stop Boon Keng (repeat in Mandarin Chinese)
Thank you for riding the MRT (repeat in Mandarin Chinese)
Please mind the gap (repeat in Mandarin Chinese)
And the happy happy people on the platform (repeat in Mandarin Chinese)

Due to this announcement, Amy and I felt that we had to do our part by smiling widely, singing loudly, and skipping gleefully while waiting for the train to ensure that we were minded when others disembarked. Again, more stares – what is up with these people?!

So, in conclusion (deep breath), the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, breathe clean air, and eat good non-Indian food made Singapore a welcome respite, even if it was a bit sterile. I would definitely go there again if I’m in the neighbourhood.

Here are the visuals:

Night Wandering - Amy in Abstract (Or Christine Forgets to Turn Off Manual on Her Camera)

Night Wandering - Amy in Abstract (Or Christine Forgets to Turn Off Manual on Her Camera)

The Port - Even at night it doesn't sleep. I don't think it would have time to sleep, what with needing to import enough good to fill a bazillion and two shopping malls.

The Port - Even at night, it doesn't sleep. I don't think it would have time, what with needing to import enough goods to fill a bazillion and two shopping malls.

Merlion and Me

Merlion and Me - You might be able to tell that I took this picture of myself. That would be because Amy was sitting to the side, rolling her eyes at what a tourist I am. Hey, at least I didn't do a silly dance...

One in a Million Orchids

One in a Million Orchids... that I took pictures of at the Botanic Gardens. Honestly, I wore out my battery with how many pictures I took. And it was because there was absolutely no one around and I had all the time in the world to take pictures without anyone getting in the way. Which kind of creeped me out, being all alone.

This One's for You, Mike

This One's for You, Mike - If, even in the land of transportation efficiency, they can't get their elevators to work in their subway stations, what hope does Chicago have?!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. 27 August 2008 8:06 am

    Coupla things…(or 4 or 5)
    1. You spelled Favorite with a U. Umm. Were you infected by a Brit or is that required while in India?
    2. Matt commented that you didn’t mention Mike in the list of readers…and how sad it is that your own hubby doesn’t read your blog. Perhaps it was just an error. I’m sure he reads it.
    3. You are hilarious! I was reading this to Matt and a coupla times we had to just rest and laugh.
    4. In you and the Merlion picture, Matt said how thin you look. I referenced him back to your post about a touch of India. I’d be thin too if 15% of the time I was ‘vomity’. Hee hee!
    I’m glad you had fun in Singapore!
    And finally…just couldn’t help noticing the ‘possibly related posts (automatically generated)’ at the bottom of your post. I’ll put them for laughs, shall i?
    * Amy Winehouse Doesn’t Dress to Impress
    * Bi-polar … a sexually curious bear
    * Gordon … you’re STILL hired
    * Romney’s 4 Wedge Issues – HUMAN EVENTS
    What?!

  2. Unity permalink
    27 August 2008 6:12 pm

    You went shopping & did not buy anything?!?!? Your fortitude is amazing. Loved your photos as well, it is nice to see places through the eyes of others especially as I may never get to those places. Looking forward to seeing you in a few months.

  3. Mike permalink
    30 August 2008 9:50 am

    Oh, I read it all right. Cue the song… “Every step you take…. Every move you maaaaakee.. Every breath you take… Every smile you fakee… I’M WATCHING YOU!”

  4. 1 September 2008 1:24 am

    oooo. Mike. If you weren’t her hubby I’d say that song makes you seem sort of stalker-like! lol!

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