Dmitri Says

Singapore was almost all about Cindy being sick. She was just not doing too well, poor thing. It was made worse by the crappy hotel we were initially booked in to. That place was like an oven. Make that an unfriendly oven with bad service. So we moved hotels after I scouted out around the immediate area.

Singapore is almost more western than the West. It’s skyscrapers and malls, malls everywhere. It couldn’t be any less Asian if it were in Des Moines. The main drag is Orchard Road, and that’s where we were. Orchard is just mile upon mile of malls, neon signs, high-end hotels, and sales everywhere. Singapore really, really wants you to shop. So much so that it’s a little unsettling. Still, you couldn’t pick a better place to get sick. It’s the cleanest, most anal-retentive country in the world, and we found a bitchin’ hotel and wound up staying for far longer than we’d planned. Some of this was because Cindy was really ill, and some of it was because the hotel was SO damn nice. Did I mention that the showers had nozzles at head and at torso level from several directions? I think we busted our budget, but you know, when the new bride is tossing cookies, that’s just what you do.

So while Cindy was laid up, I explored the city and just pored through shops, movie theaters, arcades, and more shops. They do have a booming software piracy market, and some amazing malls. I particularly remember one complex that was an open-air atrium for the first 6 stories. On one wall was a giant gorilla (see Cindy’s note). The 7th floor was a giant movie complex, and the 8th a bowling complex. They love bowling. Go figure.

Not a lot of pictures from Singapore from us. It was mostly me wandering around by myself, and that’s just not very exciting.

Links: The Mandarin Hotel, Singapore

When she was feeling better we got out and had a nice dinner down at the quay area, which is touristy shops and eateries. This one was a faux-American microbrewery. I think we both were craving a decent hunk of dead cow at that point. Singapore’s a pretty hot place, and I think this was about 9 pm and 80-85 degrees with a really nice breeze coming off the water.

Cindy’s journal, cont.

Night safari is really an incredible thing to do while in Singapore. It is the world’s only night zoo and visitors see nocturnal animals there. It’s very cool, but a bit spooky. We took this tram around the park and were able to get on and off to look at different animals along the way. Our guide was very excited and also very environment-conscious. We saw an anteater bathing itself, which according to our guide was, “very rare, very exciting.” Saw a capybara, a rodent of unusual size (R.U.S.). Mouse deer are very small and cute.

Unlike the Indonesian currency, Singapore dollars are actually worth something. But seriously, how anal are these people? This bill is dedicated to “education.” I’m a career student and I find it anoying.

Cindy’s Journal


July 10-July 14

The flight from Bali to Singapore was miserable for me. I had the beginnings of some sort of bug and I shook and shivered the whole flight. At one point, I had 4 blankets on me and I was still freezing. My hands were shaking so much that I couldn’t even eat the lunch they gave us or drink the tea I was given. We arrived in Singapore and went to a hotel that we had booked before we left, the Grand Central Hotel. It is a very bad hotel. The people were not very friendly and when I inquired about a doctor, they just said to go to the emergency room. It was very hot. It was supposed to have air conditioning, but the place was stifling. I was up all night soaking wash cloths and wiping off my face and body. I almost went to the emergency room in the middle of the night but Dmitri woke up and said that he was extremely warm too and it wasn’t just me. We had only planned to spend one day in Singapore. From there, we were going to go overland to Bangkok. But the very next morning, we found a new hotel, the Mandarin Hotel. Very, very nice place. Clean rooms, cool rooms, wonderful bathroom.

I was so much happier just to be in a nicer place that I felt a little better. My fever seemed to go, but I was still weak and starting to have some tummy problems. I teased Dmitri that I had “the dengue.” (Although I was just kidding with him, it turns out that there was a freak outbreak of dengue fever in Singapore while we were there, so we were both amused by that.) I was pretty much useless that day. I spent much of the day in our wonderful room, reading, watching TV. I really caught up on CNN while we were in Singapore, but pretty much the only news coming from the U.S. was about Gary Condit and his intern, Chandra Levy being missing and that got really old after awhile. Also, Beijing was just awarded the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Anyway, instead of taking buses and going overland to Thailand, we decided to stay in Singapore until I felt better and then fly to Bangkok. I was a bit disappointed, but in travel like this, sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation. At least we had to rough it for a few days in a nice place.

While in Singapore, we went to see a few movies. We were right around the corner from the Cathay Cineleisure, which is about 9 stories high and has bowling, a food court, movies, shops, and in the middle—a giant gorilla with a TV screen where his stomach would be. Very odd. I wish we had taken a picture since I don’t really know how better to describe it. We saw Final Fantasy, Memento, and Jurassic Park 3 (Lots of running and screaming, people being eaten by dinosaurs. Fun, good special effects, no plot) while in Singapore. Great movie theater. One evening, we went out to Clarke Quay and walked around Raffles Hotel—very nice—next time we’re staying there and went to a nice little restaurant right on the water called Brewerkz.

Cindy loved the Night Safari, and I thought it was pretty damn cool, too. It’s really a great idea. Think of how boring some animals at the zoo are–they’re all asleep or just lounging. Well, it turns out that’s the natural state of things (we’d learn all kind of animal stuff in Kenya). Many predators hunt at night. So a night zoo is a neat way to see animals actually doing things. The zoo is very, very well done and you can’t see any of the barricades separating the animals. Some of them are free to roam the park, too. So there’s the feeling that you’re really in the middle of the wilderness, a very live wilderness. Lots of hoots, howls, roars, etc. I highly recommend this, and since Singapore has zero authentic indigenous culture of its own, you may as well see the imported stuff. Does anyone else remember the Circuit City ad with the capybara? The one with the tech guys who can identify anything, including the world’s largest rodent? That was just hysterical to me, and as usual (probably just like right now), no one knew what the hell I was talking about. Well, Singapore had a capybara.
Check out the Night Safari’s web site. They’ve done a really nice job with it.