Well…. after a lengthy ass hauling half way around the world, I find myself, unable to sleep, in the Coffee Bean and Tea leaf on Orchard Road watching the night unfold. The trip across the Pacific was, in a word, fabulous. While Shirley and I flew in goat class, we were smart enough to select Singapore airlines for the trip, and it went swimmingly.
The 13:22 from San Francisco to Hong Kong had filled me with some serious trepidation given my lack of tolerance for long periods sitting on my ass, however, it was a great flight and we arrived in Singapore ready to rock.
We arrived around 11:30 AM and went for a walk down Orchard Road to see how much it had changed. The heat and humidity took some getting used to given where we came from. After a couple of hours of this Shirley had to repair to the hotel to rest a bit. I, on the other hand wandered over to one of my old haunts for a frosty Tiger. Don’t get me wrong, I think Tiger is a God awful beer, but thought it appropriate for my return engagement – given it is the national beer. A frosty pint was only $12.I found this surprising as 12 years ago a pint was $10…. so in 12 years the price of beer has risen only 20%. For a country like this, I found that heart warming news.
We made a cursory inspection of the sights and sounds of Orchard Road, and with a few notable exceptions, it looks pretty much as it always did. The Borders bookstore and coffee shop is gone, sadly. My mother and father and Shirley and I used to sit there of an evening over Christmas in ’99 and watch the world go by. Now it’s some other cafe, without the bookstore.
Staying at the orchard parade, which is the first hotel we stayed at in Singapore when we first moved here. It hasn’t changed much, and in some ways has that down at the mouth look of any older structure trying to weather the not inconsiderable challenges of the tropical jungle.
Tomorrow once we get some sleep, we are going to take the train to Holland Village and see what has changed down there.
The one thing that really surprised me was the hookers. when I lived here and right up until my last visit in 2003, you never saw a prostitute on the streets, or at least not that you would recognize unless you were looking for same. Tonight I came out of my hotel to go to the local cafe to call my banker in Canada, and once out the doors I was assailed by a group of trashily dressed hooting hookers looking for some trade. Right outside the door of the hotel! Now I have traveled a fair amount in my life, and have seen something of the sex trade in a variety of places around the globe – as an observer you understand – and while this sort of public sex trading doesn’t surprise anyone in Jakarta, or even Amsterdam, however I was not prepared for it in Singapore where it used to be a shock to see a bra ad in the national newspaper.
Even as I strolled along the street I was assailed by professionals. I will say this, however, in defense of the Lion City…. the hookers are stunning. I can remember heading down to the red light district in Amsterdam with a co worker to see the famed prossies in windows… These were the scariest heroin track laden skanks I have ever had the misfortune to lay eyes upon. I couldn’t imagine boinking one of them with Hitlers dick…… I can tell you that the fare in Singapore is, on the surface at least, surprisingly good looking.
A last word for Singapore airlines if I may. after all these years these guys continue to own the airline business. They are organized, often in very subtle ways, always on time, never lose your luggage, are never rude, and have comfortable seats, decent food, and at least some sort of entertainment. Air Canada is like a joke airline next to these guys. Their sullen, indifferent drones who populate it’s awful flights could learn just about everything from this paragon of the airline trade. My wife wanted to use air Canada to fly to Shanghai, then to Singapore via SIA. I kibboshed this insane notion knowing full well Air Canada would fuck this up in every possible way from losing the luggage to having to endure their dim witted drone air waitresses tell you what they just couldn’t be bothered doing for you. Singapore airlines has the horsepower, motivated employees, and a customer service bend you can’t buy. Kudos to them and their awesome airline!
Well, that’s it for this evening. I may plunge out there and see what goes on, although I am more likely to hit the hay and get a little shut eye for the trip ahead. I am sure Shirley will shop me stupid tomorrow. I will need my beauty sleep.