Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Of shoppers, safe sex and stinky fruit

Singapore has more shopping malls per square meter than anywhere else in the world.

Actually, that is my own statistic, I made up right now based on nothing but my own experience, but I'm 90% sure it's true. Singaporeans seem to be hell bent on buying stuff. In fact, today I came across the first 'Eco-mall' in Singapore (perhaps the world?). If that sounds like a contradiction...it is, entirely. They call it an eco-mall because they planted some trees and built part of it with a solar roof and let vines take over a small portion of one of the walls. The humor in all this planet saving architecture is that the 'eco' portion of the mall serves no other purpose than to put up a few signs explaining why solar energy and plants are good. Signs that will be read by few hell-bent shoppers rushing to catch the latest sales.

Now amidst the crazy shoppers who tend to make up the majority of the population I've met some interesting people. I met a Korean man named Paul and a boy named Kwong Hwo who helped me find my way out of the jungle at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. I met Jans, a friend of my friends Rachel and Caleb, who showed me around Chinatown, introduced me to Singaporean coffee (which is made with condensed milk...why didn't I think of that?), and explored the Raffles hotel with me...it's ginormous and has Sikh guards and is the most expensive hotel in all of Asia, possibly the world. I met Oliver, who has a degree in Psychological Evolution and was studying the grooming behaviour of monkeys. And today I met a man named Abdullah who sold me a coconut guitar and told me a story about how he was supposed to come to Canada to collect a bunch of money for some Muslim charity, but somebody cheated him out of his fortunes.

As with all foreign countries, signs have been a constant source of amusement for me. Street signs, subway signs, advertisements, warnings, etc. Some of the highlights have been:
On the doors to the subway...play play?

Apparently just saying 'no food' doesn't cover durians. I found out after I took this picture that the reason is because they are the stinkiest fruit ever! They smell like farts and if they are at a market you can smell them over a block away!

Encase you didn't think they were serious.
For those who need a diagram on exactly how to pick up their dog's poo.

And lastly, for the 'safe sex' portion of the title.

I met this woman on the bus. She assured me I could get a t-shirt just like hers in Thailand for 'very cheap'. Sometimes obnoxious t-shirts can be explained by the fact that the person probably doesn't understand what it is that their shirt implies in English, but this woman had no excuse. And considering that sexuality is highly repressed in Singapore, maybe she's just trying to make a point?Click on this picture to make it bigger, you'll want to get a good look at this t-shirt.

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