I’m back! Well, not yet, but at least on this blog (and I will post very soon about New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia)!
Days fly away as landscapes change, and it has been a month now since Janyce and I took different paths (so you will have more stories to read!).
I really loved the multicultural Singapore and its polymorphous – not to say wonderfully kitsch, artsy and busy nightlife, strolling around the colourful markets of Chinatown, all glittering with red and gold for the Lunar New Year (yet full of ghosts… do you know the story of the Street of the Dead or the legend of the Moon Goddess? No? then listen carefully to your old Obaba…), eating in spicy Little India, surrounded by nice colonial houses and arcades sheltering bazars and streethawkers, peeping into some brightly decorated Hindu or Taoist temple (take your shoes off and play at the lottery the numbers given by the mighty General Fa!), going to see Madama Butterfly at the Durians or a really inspiring exposition at the Singapore Museum of Art (it’s free every Friday after 6 p.m), walking by the river, admiring the buzzing citylights or listening to some good open-air concert, amazing jazz jam sessions (don’t hesitate to go to the Hole in Orchard, or Tino Live Music in Chinatown!) or even dancing all night long the chachacha, salsa and waltzer… And remember, no eating nor drinking in the subway (there are lots of nicer places for that)!
Goodbye, Singapore, city of thousands contrasts, so fake and so true at the same time! Your acquaintance was very brief, but intense. I’m already reaching to the beautiful Island of Taiwan, to welcome the Year of the Snake with a dear Taiwanese friend and my wonderful sister !
P.S. : If you are interested in knowing a bit of the Malaysian Emergency and Dutch and English Colonization Period or the Japanese War, including the history of the Merdeka of South-East Asia, you can read the poetic, even if slightly too much didactic sometimes, novel written by Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists.
Being stuck under the pouring rain, right where the lightning strikes, in Singapore’s botanic gardens, gives you time to think about a new blog post. I’ve been wandering around the city for a week now, mostly by myself, as Erika flew over to Taiwan on Monday. It was sad to split up after five months traveling together, but at the same time, it’s like a new beginning in the trip. Traveling will be different now I’m on my own, but I know I’ll keep on meeting people everywhere I’ll go. That’s one thing you learn on a long term adventure: when you travel alone, you’re never alone.
So, what about Singapore? Well, people say that New York City is the one that never sleeps. I’m glad to let you know this statement applies here too. So many things open 24/7 (mainly for food, this is heaven), people all around in the streets at any hour of the day and night… in a word, a busy city. I can say I enjoy being here, even though I sometimes feel like it is all a bit fake. You know, a bit like Dubai, big fun city all built for your entertainment: shopping, restaurant, shopping, pretty clean streets, shopping, coffee, theater, shopping. Yes, one thing about Singapore, it’s mainly shopping centers one after another. Orchard road is just one big mall.
And I am not here to shop. Well, all right, I bought a pair of jeans (welcome to Asia, where everybody is pretty much half my size, half my weight … But I managed to fit my butt in one, so it’s fine): I needed one, I was out of trousers. And it proved itself really useful last night to go out to the Zouk club (one of the best in the world! as would say the Scandinavians I went out with): good venue, great music, but really expensive. I ended up losing my Vikings inside and having a lot of fun with a group of very nice Singaporeans! So yes, going out here costs a lot, but it was a great night. And well I’m sure there are a whole bunch of other clubs less expensive than this one.
On a more interesting side: what to see here! Well, the botanic gardens are seriously a must-see (if you can get there on a sunny day), and the orchids garden is beautiful. I’ve never been a huge orchids fan, but some hybrids are amazing.
Just wandering around busy Chinatown, colorful Little India, the calm Marina Bay, or the futuristic Gardens by the bay and their awesome greenhouses are a nice way to spend your days.
On the culture side, the Singapore Art Museum isn’t big, but holds a pretty good collection of modern art. And I really enjoyed Nathan Sawaya’s Art of the Brick exhibit at the lotus-shaped Artscience Museum: I felt like I was 7 again playing with Legos. Well, with my old high school friend Matthieu (who’s here for a semester), we had fun trying to build a 3D raindrop. Didn’t work out though.
I think I’ve said most of what I had to say … I found a cheap but clean hostel (the main issue is that most of the travelers who stay here are in transit, so it’s a bit hard to meet people); you can eat amazing food in huge and cheap food courts pretty much everywhere (yum, steamed buns, chopped pork, ramen, chicken curry, sugarcane or honeydew juices…); a lot of things are prohibited by the law here (smoking pretty much anywhere, eating in the subway, getting smelly durians inside public buildings, etc.), so, it’s very clean, but god you’re scared to cross the streets the wrong way; I can’t get in touch with a school, unfortunately (tried to, got negative or no returns); and I’m off to Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
As the festivities begin tonight, happy Lunar year, and may the year of the snake (hey, I was born under that sign!) bring good things to you!