I knew I was off to a good start on this trip when I got to the magazine stand at the Calgary airport. Scanning the shelves for some decent reading material amongst the fashion magazines, Men's Health and Cosmo, I eventually settled on the January edition of National Geographic. And I discovered that one of the cover stories this month is entitled "Tough Love in Singapore" and is all about how Singapore has gotten to where it is today as a fully developed city in Southeast Asia. There was also a story on endangered species trafficking in Southeast Asia that talked about the illegal trading of orangutan's from Borneo. So with the National Geographic gods/publishers on my side I set out for the long journey ahead of me.
Along the way I met some very interesting people, including a audio installation guy from Vancouver with a degree in ethics philosophy, a brother and sister returning to Hong Kong to visit their dying grandmother and an Indonesian sports agent from Jakarta who taught me the basics of Indonesian for when I go to Borneo.
I arrived at my friend Phoebe's mom's apartment yesterday evening and it is the most incredible place, complete with a swimming pool and guards who were expecting me! I went out to eat supper at one of the infamous hawker food stands last night and had spicy vermicelli soup and bread, which looked liked toasted whole grain bread in the picture, but was actually stark white bread with thick fishy tasting paste on the top...not the best introduction to Singaporean food.
Some things I've discovered about Singapore over the last 12 hours:
-When we think of 'Asian' we generally think Chinese, Japanese and Indian, but there are SO many different Asian nationalities here and slight differences in appearances that I didn't think about before.
-The government is trying to make English the official language, which is very convenient for me, the white western traveler, but makes me wonder what is being lost with this forced westernization.
-In Southeast Asia, Singapore=shopping, most people on the train are laden with shopping bags from stores with familiar European and North American names. Also, their malls are open until 11:30pm every night and are bustling with as many people as we might expect to find at West Edmonton Mall on December 24th...except this is everyday, year round!
-My new favorite thing in the world is Dragonfruit, I bought 3 of them for just over $1 CDN yesterday
-It is 60 degrees hotter here than in is in Red Deer right now...isn't that disgusting?
It is now 8:30 in the morning and time to go exploring!