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Shake'n it Up

Singapore: Rules are Made to be Broken.

SINGAPORE | Tuesday, 14 April 2009 | Views [575] | Comments [1]

If you're feeling at all rebellious, you'll have a hay day in this city. But be prepared, disobeying the law will easily burn a hole in your wallet.

$150.00 Fine for Smoking
$150.00 Fine for Spitting
$500.00 Fine for Littering

Oh, and don't get me started on Jay-walking. That's going to be an additional $50.

If you haven't handed over all your Singapore dollars to the authorities, you'll have plenty of other opportunities to blow it on fancy hotels, river cruises and fine cuisine. Singapore wasn't initially part of my SE Asia itinerary for that very reason, but since a friend of mine (that I was visiting in Hong Kong) was heading down there for a 2-day business trip, I decided to tag along.

My home for the next few days was on the 45th floor of the Swisshotel, the tallest hotel in SE Asia and the 3rd tallest hotel in the world. Wow. I went from spending $3.00 a night to $120.00 a night (and that was a discounted rate!) The $120.00 price tag came with a stunning, 180 degree view of the harbor along with a few other luxuries that were re-introduced to me after 2 months of backpacking:

My very own queen-sized bed. What was I going to do with all of this room? I didn't have to worry about cuddling the far left edge of the bed, worried that I was going to collide with Hannah or Molly midway through the night. I could kick, dance and squirm during my REM sleep. Too much room to play!

A Warm Blanket of Goose Feathers. Yes, my very own down comforter! Since the room was cooled by the AC, I was able to cuddle up in the feathery-goodness. I slept so well!

Pillows, pillows and more pillows. Were they encouraging a pillow fight...? What was I supposed to do with the three extra pillows? I barely used the corner of one.

Little Bottles of Soaps, a tooth brush (paired with a mini tube of tooth paste), razor and a sewing kit. All of these items would have been like gold if I were back in Thailand, especially, the mini bottle of liquid soap.

A Swimming Pool (x2). I easily spent most of my late mornings and early afternoons poolside. I'm not exactly proud calling myself a pool bum, but after five weeks of being on the go, it was welcomed. I hate to admit this, but I wasn't all that interested in exploring the city. There wasn't any adventure or intrigue. It was too clean, too proper and too westernized.

The 60th Floor, AKA The Executive Business Center. After a couple hours of sunshine, I worked my way up to the VIP area of the hotel to check my email, indulge in FREE carbonated beverages and watch the toy cars and toy people go about their daily lives, 60 floors below me. Oh, and did I mention that the VIP access was courtesy of my friend's mom's celebrity status?

Buffet Breakfast. This was the devil. An all-you-can-eat brunch buffet that featured delicacies from all over the world. Fruits, meats, cheeses, pastries, soups, noodles, quiches...I easily ate my weight in food and I'm still puzzled how I managed to squeeze into my swim suit.

Okay, I'm really not that shallow. I didn't spend every waking moment at the hotel. Once the temperature cooled and it was comfortable to walk around, I did quite a bit of exploring. I was fortunate to have the company of Kevin, who just returned from two years of Peace Corps volunteer service in Cambodia, and three of his other Peace Corps mates. The five of us wandered the streets for hours and enjoyed the sights. The famous Merlion Fountain (and the mini-me version), Orchard Road (shops and restaurants), the harbor, and my favorite, Little India.

Little India was also home to the backpackers. For only $20 a night, you could be set up in a dorm style bunk. Outrageous! (if you can't tell by the tone of my typing...that's sarcasm speaking) It was refreshing to be amongst other budget-conscious travelers and we found some good eats with good prices in Little India. We even located an Australian Brewpub with a Pale Ale on tap. My first decent beer in five weeks. Delicious!

Singapore's after hours scene was quite impressive. There were popular clubs and bars scattered around the city, but most of the action was around Clark Que (pronounced kee). An outdoor shopping mall of restaurants, clubs and live music venues. There was even a bar called "clinic" that could have easily been mistaken for the ER. Wheel chairs replaced bar stools, skeletons, xrays and stethoscopes were the decor and you could consume your beverage through an IV. This was my type of hospital!

Other bizarre evening encounters worth mentioning:

An older gentleman surrounded by six young ladies wearing next to nothing. Hmmmm...I wonder if he had a good night?

*  Jumping up and down to a band's "dance" version of Rod Stewart's "Forever Young." Why on earth would you want to rock out to this classic soft rock hit?
*  A 50 foot ledge lined with empty beer cans, bottles of wine, Doritos bags...thousands of dollars worth of fines...in the world's cleanest city?

I had a fantastic 48 hours living the luxurious life, but I've recently learned that this was not my preferred style of traveling. Yes, it's a good break and it could be worthwhile to treat myself to the "good life" after weeks of budget traveling, but I was missing out on reality. I've had a new appreciation for the people, culture and lifestyle of developing countries. It's raw, it's a struggle, but it's an incredible learning experience.



fyi, Singapore is NOT a developing country, but a DEVELOPED country!

  skankii_j May 3, 2009 5:03 AM

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