Question: Who wouldn’t love Singapore?
Answer: Gay drug-traffickers who like crossing roads at times of their own choosing.
Singapore is jokingly known as a ‘fine city’. This is because of the number of essentially harmless activities which lead to exorbitant fines. For instance, chewing gum is contraband. Drinking water on a train or crossing the road when the green man isn’t flashing will cost you heavily. Also, homosexuality is illegal. This troubled me until I saw a few hundred men congregated in a park, mincing around with pink balloons, megaphones and banners, without encountering police harassment. In practice it seems homosexuality is illegal in Singapore in the same way that marijuana is illegal in the UK.
I love Singapore. If Singapore was a public school and had a Latin motto, it would surely be Cleanius, Modernius, Efficius. There is no litter in Singapore. There is no antisocial behaviour. Everything runs like clockwork for the benefit of the average citizen. Most people seem to view the successive Governments as paternalistic rather than authoritarian, and are happy to concede a certain amount of personal liberty in return for a very high standard of living.
Food is the national obsession. Singapore has dozens of food courts, which are like shiny, gleaming shopping malls, but instead of GAP and Topshop, it’s Sushi stalls, noodle stalls, gourmet sausage stands, etc. You grab a table, and shovel down platters of mixed origin until you are fit to burst. It’s all so good that you can pretty much choose at random. We have been stuffing our faces, I tell ya. Meal-times don’t exist in Singapore. People who eat only three meals a day are considered unwell. A fat man is desperate to burst out of my skinny-as-a-rake figure.
It’s great to wash everything down with Singapore’s award-winning Tiger Beer after a couple of weeks in Malaysia, where alcohol is sometimes hard to come by. Speaking of alcohol, the ‘Singapore Sling’ was invented by a barman at the Raffles Hotel nearly a hundred years ago. We went there to drink an original. They cost 27 dollars each. I am too ashamed to tell you the price in sterling, but you can look it up on xe.com if you’re curious. We sipped slowly.
I also visited the largest book-shop in Asia. It sure wasn’t small. It could probably serve as an aircraft hangar should the need arise. I know I am prone to droning on about Vonnegut, and I’m sorry if my mentioning him yet again is tedious, but I have to mention – they had in stock multiple copies and different prints of every single Vonnegut title – all 25 of them. I picked up one of his later collections of essays and opened it at random. The first paragraph that caught my eye made me laugh so hard that adjacent customers began to regard me with alarm. It read:
I laugh my head off at Laurel and Hardy, but there is something tragic in them somehow. These men are too sweet to survive in this world, and are in terrible danger all the time. They could be so easily killed.
We went to the cinema to watch the Star Trek movie last night. I am neither a movie fan generally, nor a sci-fi fan specifically, but I really enjoyed it in spite of the inevitable presence of a hacking cougher behind me.
Yiddish humour insists that there are two types of schmuck, a schlemiel and a schlimazel. A schlemiel always spills his soup, while a schlimazel has soup spilled upon him. I am the latter schmuck. A hacking cougher is slightly preferable to a seat-kicker, but I’m always in front of one of the two. I do wonder about the so-called Law of Attraction, you know…
Anyway, good as the film was, it occurred to me later that although it felt like it had a happy ending, a happy ending was barely possible after the swift and successful holocaust of 8 BILLION intelligent, peaceful Vulcans. Still, at least Leonard Nimroy was ok. Sequel when?
Anyway. We’re popping – yes, popping – to Indonesia for three days, then back to Singapore for more mountains of food and pitchers of Tiger beer before flying back to London four days later. I’m looking forward to drinking some wine. I’ve had two glasses in six months, which is rather less than my usual two bottles per six days. I also can’t wait for reunions with beloved friends, family members, canines, decent clothes, guitars and Macbooks.
When I’m back I’ll do one post with the best photographs I took along with some commentary, link you to a comprehensive Flickr collection, write some general Asian travel tips for the numerous people who arrive here after typing travel-related search terns into Google and then draw a line under this whole Gogarty-esque debacle.
London friends, please keep the evening of the 6th of June free if you can – I’m turning 30 and will need assistance with the sorrow-drowning celebrating. There’s a Facebook Event coming up, assuming I can secure the services of a dog-sitter.