Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'm living in an apartment right on the Singapore River, which is a pleasant view to see each morning.  Ever since I got here, there's been a tent fairly close by, filled with workers, welders and paper animals.  Pink dolphins, blue sharks, random dragon parts.
This week, it actually started getting put into place.  On the bridges and on the path lining the river, it's all being set up.   And it's pretty neat- they're all wire-framed, with a thin cloth covering, and they've got lights inside.  When they're lit up, it's very colorful and interesting.  I originally thought it had to do with the national holiday this Tuesday, but I learned late this week that they're actually for a Chinese Lantern Festival, which is something totally different.
The Lantern Festival apparently starts in mid-September, so it looks like I'll get to see more of these lanterns for the next few weeks.  

The holiday on Tuesday is Eid, which is the end of Ramadan.  It has a different name here, something like Hara Raya Puyasa, but I'm too lazy to go look it up.  It's a public holiday and everyone is off work, but I'm getting the impression it's not a holiday with a lot of activity.  

My guidebook has an interesting description of an Indian temple up in (shockingly) Little India, so today I tried to make my way there.  This was to be after a stroll through Ft. Canning Park, which is right by my place.  
First I was attacked by the narcosleepy.  I woke up as usual around 8, had a nice breakfast of super happy fun time Lucky Charms, and then promptly fell back asleep.  Until 2pm.  I was out of it.  Soooo tiiiiired.  I couldn't begin to say why, since it's not like I'm super active or anything (although I did actually go to the gym a few times last week, huzzah).  
Housekeeping comes by on Tuesdays, Thursdays....and Saturdays.  Fortunately I was coherent enough this morning to put the Do Not Disturb sign out before falling asleep.  UNfortunately, after waking up I got a healthy dose of guilt and 'oh man, I hope this is not what it seems like.'  I woke up, got ready, and headed out the door.  And on the steps outside my place is the cleaning lady.  With a genuine smile on her face, "oh- are you done?".  Say...what now?  It's like 230, lady.  "You're the last place I need to clean, then I can go home."  As I said, oh man.  Now, her English wasn't 100%.  But I'm trying to ask if she's been waiting outside for me to wake up and take the Do Not Disturb sign down.  And trying to ask if there's a time where she's allowed to just skip my place.  I'm getting nowhere- she's just ready to clean.  My only hope is that she wasn't sitting on my steps for the past few hours, waiting for this slacker to finally wake up and go about seeing more of this country on the other side of the world.

So off to Ft. Canning and Little India.  Having been to Ft. Canning once already, I was excited to make it a 'regular' place to go.  I knew I hadn't walked through the whole thing, so today I'd discover more.  The problem was that apparently I HAD walked through the whole thing.  It's not a big park, and there wasn't much new to see.  The main difference was that today it was raining and very windy.  I've brought my umbrella, but it's on the cheap side, and it's not friends with the wind.  
Leaving the park, I headed north to Little India.  I had looked at my map prior to leaving, and had a general idea of where I was going.   I walked until my feet hurt, saw almost nothing of interest, got tired of the wind and rain, and decided to call it a day. In Atlanta, weather like this would have called for a day of movies and sitting around.   When I reviewed my map after getting home, to see just where I'd gone, I made the discovery that I'd stopped my trip right at the border of Little India.  I hadn't even made it there.  That's ok, as it means something to do another time.  

Now I'm home, had dinner at a nearby Thai place.  I ordered the spicy fried rice, and received a plate of rice and seafood that had been soaked in kerosene.  I used to seriously avoid spicy food, but now I really like it.  When it's that spicy though, I run into a problem.  I remembered this problem approximately two bites in:  hiccups.  Eating really spicy food (and getting drunk) is a surefire way for me to start hiccuping. Which I do.  Because drinks are precious and have to be cherished, my only relief is one can of Pepsi Light (which, for the record, I ordered as a "yeah, Pepsi's fine" after ordering Coke, and apparently "Pepsi's Fine" was interpreted as "Pepsi Light", but whatever).   I think my stomach and lungs turned inside out from these hiccups, and it's possible I started convulsing in my chair.  But in the end, it was a good meal, and maybe I even built up the spice tolerance a bit.

(a final note:  after dinner, I turned on HBOAsia and caught the end of Rocky III, because that's what passes for something that should be on HBO here.  I'm happy to report that Rocky III might have the single most unrealistic boxing scene committed to film.   Round 1 is Sylvester Stallone punching Mr. T about 50 times, Mr. T missing on EVERY SINGLE PUNCH, and yet he's totally fine.  Round 2 is the reverse, with Mr. T absolutely destroying Rocky, and at one point actually grabbing Rocky and throwing him into the corner.  The ref seems to think this is okay, and thus I now determine that Rocky 3 is the grandfather of MMA fights.  Rocky 3 is ridiculous.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

weird dreams

I'm having odd dreams here.  Usually I forget them pretty quickly upon waking up.

Tonight's dream took place at the Conan O'Brien show.  I'm backstage, and for some reason it's clearly a small club.  The band Hanson is on stage, and they're playing a cover of Matt Pond PA's "Magic Boyfriend".  They're playing quite well, and I think I'm mighty impressed with how these Hanson kids have grown up.  One of them is on guitar, one is singing, and the tall one is playing electric violin.  
Then Ashley Olsen (it's not Mary Kate, though I can't tell the difference between them in real life, so I have no idea how I knew it was Ashley) comes out on stage.  She's in a silver evening gown, and begins to play upright bass.  The crowd is into it- everybody's impressed with the band, and you can tell it's one of those moments where Ashley Olsen has gone from tabloid celebrity to Genuinely Awesome Person.  
The song is really grooving, and Ashley stands on the side of the upright bass and keeps playing.  I'm pretty sure I saw the bass player from the Rev. Horton Heat do this once.  Only he wasn't in a silver evening gown.  And Ashley is, and this is when her top starts to fall down.  With cameras still rolling, it's the start of a wardrobe malfunction.  She smiles and finishes this part of the song, then scampers off stage.  Strangely, the crowd doesn't seem to care for the most part.  I'm backstage, and now I'm standing next to two members of the band James- clearly I'm on the show because I've come with them.  While the band is finishing their song, we decide to give them an instrument as a gift for playing so well.  I run down the hall, and here I run into a nobody who informs me that they just saw a coworker from TMP (Maureen, for those of you who know her) leave the show, covering her kids eyes as she went.  Not angry, just in an 'Uh Oh! Wardrobe disaster, time to leave' way.  I decide I'm going to ask out Ashley Olsen when I'm presenting her and Hanson with a gift instrument from James, and this is when I wake up.

Weird.  I need to go download Mmmbop when I get back to the US.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

nice little saturday, but no time for bed bath and beyond

What's a global gent like myself to do on a Saturday in a city on the complete opposite side of the world from home?  And who may have just gotten paid.  To the casino!

I have been gambling before, but am generally not a gambling person.  I like wasting my money and getting something definitive in return: music. a good meal. a book.  And gambling is essentially paying a place for the privilege of giving them your money, based on the possibility that you MIGHT come out ahead.   But there's a new casino in Singapore, and the building looks cool and I'm told it's something I have to go see.  Mandarin Bay Sands, and Skypark, are a huge complex right on the edge of the island.  It's three hotel towers, topped by a horizontal piece with trees and such (this is the Skypark), and then a bunch of shops and the casino.  It's large, it's modern, and it's very impressive.  

To get there I took my first trip on their subway, the MRT.  Unlike bus schedules and their mass of confusing numbers, train maps to me are really easy to me.  It's a fairly uneventful trip, and their subway is just like every other city train you've been on.  The main exception is that on the platform, you can't see the track.  Where the ledge would be is just a wall with sliding glass doors.  No jumpers on these tracks, buddy.  (It's a bit like the airport trains, now that I think about it).  And buying a ticket is interesting- there's a map just beneath the monitor, and when you buy a ticket you press down on the destination on the map.  You then get a ticket for that destination.  

It's a short walk from the station to the casino.  Aside from the likelihood of losing money, the casino had one other feature that rubbed me the wrong way:  locals have to pay to get in.  You have to bring your passport to the casino, and there are two lines.  One for foreigners, one for locals.  Locals have to pay $100 just to get in the door.  I get it, but it's not something I'm totally on board with.  And I'm not sure if I'm more or less on board when I saw that there were quite a few locals going in.  Not only do they check your passport, they checked it more thoroughly than customs did.  I wonder how many people are using fake passports to get into a casino these days anyway. 

I'm in, and it's time to find some blackjack.  I foolishly stop at a slot machine first, because look at the pretty shiny lights and the beeping  Slot machines are stupid.  If it was as simple as 'money here, pull lever' I'd be okay.  But slot machines are nothing like that these days (though they do have the lever, in case you want to be retro).  They have buttons to determine whether you're betting 2x, 5x, 10x, and so on.  And there there are other buttons that are '50 lines, or '100 lines'.  And you have to put your money in, decide on a combination of those buttons, and go.  It's ridiculously confusing, and the whole process is measured in credits.  They lure you in with a big "5 cents!" sign, but then when you sit down you notice the minimum bid is $2.50, measured in 5 cents.  I note to myself that these people probably have advertising degrees.  It takes me all of about 3 spins to lose $10.  But hey- I won $1.25 in the process.  WHICH, I may add, they don't pay you in coins.  They print out a receipt that you've got to take to the cashier.  

Slot machine ripoff out of the way, it's time to find blackjack.  Blackjack is an idiots game.  It takes zero skill.  There is just a set pattern of what to do, and you follow it.  You look at your cards, you look at the dealers card, and you either hit or stay depending on what each is.  Sure, you could "gamble" and take a chance and do something else, but other players get mad at you if you do.  "The dealer had 3!  And you had 14 and you HIT!?  You're supposed to stay!  Aaaarrrrgghhh!"  At stores near casinos, you can almost always buy a credit-card sized piece of paper that tells you what to do (hit or stay) depending on what your cards are.  It takes like 5 seconds to learn and memorize. 
So this is my gambling.  And I'm not in the mood to lose lots of money, though I got $200 from the ATM.  I'm scoping out for $5 tables- these are the tables where it costs $5 to play one hand.  There are none.  Nor are there $10 tables.  Or $20.  I'm not sure if it's because it's Saturday, but the cheapest tables are $25.  And there's only like four of them.  The others are all $50 and up.  Grrrrrr.  At $25 a hand, and $200 in my pocket, I can afford to lose 8 hands.  Eight.  Losing eight hands in a row isn't suuuuper likely, but it's a definite possibility.  And 8 hands will take approximately 2 minutes. So I am now realistically looking at the possibility of an "afternoon" of blackjack being over in less times than it takes to find a parking space.  (and yes, for the record, I considered putting a 'your mom' joke in the 'less time' line just now).  So, heart racing like I'm taking a test I'm not prepared for, I start playing.  It was stressful, though ultimately uneventful.  I ended up leaving down about $15.  I was only ever up as much as $50, and never down more than $50.  I couldn't tell you how long it took.  In the end, I'm glad I left without losing more, since the only real long term outcome is to lose it all.

Now I decide that last night's dinner of Cool Ranch Doritos (what? I was excited to find them) has worn off, and I'm starving.  I head back through the mall shops, and follow the signs to the food court for something hopefully cheap.

What I find is indeed cheap, as far as Singapore goes.  It's a row of food places, and there are pictures of every meal you can order on the wall.  Apparently these were all different food places, with registers every so often to indicate where one store began and another ended.  To me though, it might as well have been one big restaurant.  I walk around for like 15 minutes trying to decide.  I'm skipping the one over there, because it has birds hanging in a case and they're...well, they're smiling happy, if you get my drift.  Yucky.  I'm also skipping that one, as their display has what looks to be a small fish completely just dipped in breading and fried.  And by 'completely', I mean it looks like they just caught it from the river and fried it up.  It has all its fins and everything.  So yeah, not having that.  I order some prawns and noodles, and it's here I notice that there's not a drink menu.  And there's no soda machine back there.  And I'm super thirsty.  Surely I've missed something....I mean, people drink with their meals right?  I look for a place to sit,  No, they do not apparently drink with their meals.  It's a full blown food court- tables, lots of people.  And none of them have drinks.  Everyone happily eating away, friends, families, kids, old people.  I would guess maybe 150 people, and probably 3 of them have anything to drink.  And they've got bottled water.  Oh man, I'm going to die.  My throat is closing up.  I've never wanted something to drink more than right now.  And yet I'm way starving, I've GOT to eat.  So I eat my yucky watery noodles and prawns with their heads and antenna still attached.  And then it's off to find something to drink.
This mall is a desert.  It has a freaking river- with boats- in the middle of it.  You know what it doesn't have?  A water fountain.  I pass 3 bathrooms, and not a single water fountain.  I walk about a hundred stores, and none of them serve drinks.  Possibly the ice cream store, but as it was $10 for a tiny kids cup, I wasn't going to ask, because screw them.   
Ladies and gentleman, I walked 20 minutes back to my apartment.  I walked straight into that 7-11 around the corner and served myself the biggest Big Gulp that 7-11 had ever served.  That Coke was the sweet nectar of life.  I should've tipped the cashier I was so happy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

take me to the river

This past Friday, I moved into the new apartment.  It's just down the river from the old hotel, so luckily I already know the general area.  And even better, I don't have to learn a new way to get to work.  I've still yet to take the subway, and I can't read a bus map to save my life so that won't be happening anytime soon.  Seriously- have you ever looked at a bus map?  Those things a jumbled messes of confusion.  

The new place is very much a short term apartment.  It has cable, but only certain channels and virtually nothing good.  There's HBO, but it's odd in that it shows things like the 1991 classic Necessary Roughness, starring Scott Bakula and Kathy Ireland (fun fact: Kathy Ireland was a mega babe and one of the worst actresses of all time).  
There's a kitchen, which means I'll be able to eat in occasionally and not have a $30 bowl of ramen for dinner each night.  Interestingly, it took me several days to notice that the only room in the whole place with a window that's permanently open (though with angled slats) is in this kitchen.  That explains why that room is always slightly hotter.  But maybe it's just me, but I'd vote 'The Kitchen' as one of the rooms I'd least want to have a permanently open window.  You know....the room with the food.  I await the day when I walk in to find a gigantic Singapore tropical bug going through my fridge.  
There's also a washer & dryer- score.  One more item off the checklist- find a laundromat.  And yes, I *did* get excited about having a washer & dryer, and yes, that gave me a moment of sadness.  I hate laundry- worst chore of them all.

It's also a 2-bedroom apartment.  It's all they had available, and yes they'll be kicking me out into a studio as soon as one opens up.  Which is....when now?  Oh yeah- they don't know.  Super!

I also learned that both the hot water and the various wall outlets have switches on them.  And yes, they've got to be turned on for them to work.  I figured that out after wondering why the shower was going for 10 minutes and not getting any warmer.  

With the kitchen available, I made my first trek to a grocery store this weekend.  I've been eating out for every meal since I left Atlanta, so the grocery store was paradise.  It was like I was high.  Every single item on the shelf was almost bought. Star fruit! Frosted Flakes (which they call 'Frosties').  I put back the Cheerios since they were $10.90 for a small box.  Haagen Dazs! Lays Sour Cream and Onion Chips! Peanut butter!  In the end I only bought about $40 worth of stuff, but it was all quality junk food so it was worth it.

As far as the sights and sounds of Singapore, I've learned that it has much in common with Atlanta: aside from shopping and restaurants, there's nothing to do here.  I've verified this with the coworkers.  I asked them what there is to do-  "we go to restaurants."   
There are things here and there I'll be doing, but by and large this is a city of malls and restaurants.  Not joking about the malls either- there are at least 3 within a 5 minute walk of my apartment.  

So what's on this tourists agenda?  A visit to the Botanical Gardens (coworker Kalyn's report:  "it's nice if you like looking at plants."), the Singapore Zoo (I was wisely advised to take their Night Safari option, as the animals are more active and it's cooler temperatures),  a casino where I will redeem my wallet from the Las Vegas disaster, and some smaller trips.  No plans yet to travel abroad further, though that's a possibility.  I've been advised that Malaysia isn't the safest place in the world, and that I should go with some sort of tour group if I go at all. Encouraging.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

going native

I'm nearly a week into the overall trip, and have successfully made it through two whole days of work in Singapore.  I've now managed to have a pretty good idea of my way around the immediate area around my hotel also- just in time to check out tomorrow.
The good news is that tonight I walked around and found the place I'm moving to.  It's maybe a 5 minute walk away, which is good.  The bad news is that with the hotel check out time and apartment check in time, I've got an overlap that means I'll probably be lugging my luggage into work.  Getting to work is super easy, unless you're dragging along a 60 pound bag.  I'm debating taking a $3 taxi ride down the block.  

I'm happy to report that the office is a good place.  It's on the small side from what I'm used to- there's only about 15 people there, and 5 of them are in a creative group that's separated from everyone else (across the lobby, through a closed door).  But they've got some chairs and couches and pillows that give it a comfortable, inviting look.  I'm working out of an office (the only one), and it has a large L-shaped bright red couch that I like.  I definitely like all the people working there, although it's way too quiet.  I'll have to work on being loud, weird and obnoxious to get some energy going in that place.  

Late yesterday afternoon though, the quiet was interrupted by a commotion outside the office.  It's a guards...the rising voices of teenage girls yelling strange words.  We're all confused, and none of us recognize who the four guys at the center of it all are.  Thankfully a few of the fans have signs, and we now know we're in the presence of Korean boy band B1A4.  I'm originally highly impressed- it's my first day at work and some actual Asian celebrities are having a photo shoot outside our window!  Wikipedia informs me their album went to #6 somewhere (I'm guessing Korea).   Thinking later, I realize that this 'huge crowd' was really more like 30 people.  And while they were definitely fans, I find it suspect that they all leave at the same time in 3 matching vans.  I come to the conclusion that the record company has paid for this crowd to be there somehow.  

Day one also brought a good meal with some of the coworkers.  We went to a Japanese place in the mall across the street from my hotel.  We managed to order quite possibly the entire menu.  My basic rice/chicken and udon noodles were accompanied by:
- some delicious sashimi (mmmm...yellowtail)
- a steamed egg.  A steamed egg is served in a small, narrow upright bowl.  You eat it with a tiny spoon.  It has the consistency of pudding, but it is definitely egg.  The bottom of the bowl is filled with broth and mystery meat- either beef or chicken, but I'm told that you rarely know which it will be.  I have a bite.  It is not something I care to have again.
- all the shrimp here still have the heads and antenna on.  I have no idea why, 
- We have a small plate of tiny fried shrimp, maybe the size of a pen cap.  They also still have heads.  You are to eat the whole thing in one bite.  They taste like fried breading, and aren't bad.
- I eat sea urchin sashimi.  It's yellowy-orange, and is the consistency of slime.  It's gooey and shiny, and everyone seems to look at me as I try it.  The taste is roughly equivalent to fish broth and ocean water.  I make a note to not try sea urchin again.
- My coworkers agree this place isn't super good- average at best.  I've decided it's probably the best place I've been, and make a note to come back.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

parks & rec

Today I manage to shake off some jet lag and wake up at a semi-reasonable hour:  11am (after going to sleep around 3am).  I'd neglected to turn on the Do Not Disturb button, and so I discover that my hotel room has a doorbell and housekeeping is buzzing it.  Repeatedly.  

It's National Day in Singapore, which is their independence day.  Work is closed, and there's a good possibility a lot of stores will be too.  I assign myself the task of finding the TMP office for today.  

This will not be super easy.  The only portable map I have is the guidebook my lovely coworkers bought.  I plan on walking around a bit, so I don't want to bring it.  My iPhone is $20 per mb of data, so I'm afraid to even turn it on.  The work Blackberry- I can barely figure out how to turn it on, much less bring up some sort of map.  
The solution is staring really hard at Google Maps and trying to memorize the general layout.

Shockingly, this mostly works.  The streets don't actually run the way I imagine, but I have the general area down and sort of know where to go.  My mind is blown:  I actually find our office.  It's a tiny yellow door, and it looks to be above a restaurant.  I'm excited to get there tomorrow.

I then keep walking and find Fort Canning Park.  It's a hilly, winding, tree-filled park.  There are people here, but not too many.  It's relaxing, and I make a note to come back.  I've also turned into a human sweat faucet, so it's time for air conditioning.

Mission accomplished for the day,  and exploring done, now to find food.  I finally explore the huge building next to my hotel and discover it's a mall in a skyscraper.  And it has tons of food options, all apparently cheaper than the riverside places from last night.  I weigh my options and settle on some Japanese ramen place, because a. noodles are yum, b. Yahoo Japan said they're the best noodles or something.  
I'll tell you right now:  Yahoo Japan is clearly not to be trusted.  I ordered chicken ramen and some pot stickers.  And a Coke (yaaay! Coke!  This is the first place I've found that serves Coke- everywhere else is Pepsi).  
As soon as my food is brought out, I realize I've made a terrible mistake.  It is indeed chicken ramen.  This is not American chicken (translation: it's not chicken breast).  It's...chicken.  I have no clue what part of the chicken.  It's a mix of dark meat and white meat.  The whole bowl smells vaguely of feet.  The noodles are okay though.  And there's a bit of tofu, which I really like when it's cooked right (translation: by someone other than me).  The pot stickers are also okay.  Overall this place is OKAY.  It's not super delicious, but after a few bites it's basic ramen in broth.  As long as I ignore the chicken.  This whole meal was a solid $20.  

With a good deal of the day still ahead, I'm determined to avoid falling asleep before 5pm (since I have to work tomorrow, I'll HAVE to make it that long tomorrow, so better to start today).  Back at the hotel, I decide to check out the pool.  
Because going to a Southeast Asian beach is one of my only 'Really Want To Do' items, I've brought my own beach towel.  I stroll out to the pool, and quickly notice:
a. for a hotel with over a hundred rooms, they have about 12 pool chairs.
b. this hotel seems to be entirely populated by European families.  Unattractive ones.  
c. I am isolated by age by a solid 15 years from everyone else here.  Maybe 20.  The older people all seem to be 60-80, with kids aged 4-15.  Surely some of them must be 40-50, but I don't want to look too much lest my eyeballs explode.  

Also, I've brought my towel.  I walk right past a woman at a desk by the pool.  Must be for the massage parlor in the hotel.  Oh good- there's a seat open. Sweet.  
Uh-oh.  Shit.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON has a matching towel.  Mine is the odd one out.  Someone new walks out, carrying one of the matching towels.  Shit.  Was I supposed to get a special pool towel?  What if that's what the woman at the desk was there for?  It probably was.  Are they going to send someone out to talk to me?  What if they think I'm not a guest?  Oh man- what if you have to PAY for a towel?  Surely I've broken some rules.  How did everyone else know about the towels?  What kind of madhouse makes you pay for a towel?  F it- I'm keeping my towel.  Let them come up to me.  I have my room key, so I can prove I'm a guest.  And if it costs, I'll just leave.  I'm checking out on Friday anyway, and clearly don't need to meet any of these other guests.  I dislike unattractive people.

I'm at the pool for maybe 20 minutes.  I'm partially in the shade: almost all of the chairs are totally in the shade.  I learn all the European tourists prefer this- I overhear several of them saying they want to be more in the shade.  These people are bizarre. 

the search for food

It might be time for lunch.  Possibly dinner.  I've got no idea- still lost in time.  

I'm awake, and it's apparently some sort of daylight.  The $5 can of Pringles is starting to look good, so it's time to finally venture out and find food.

Success! Immediately in front of the hotel is a Subway.  I can cross 'die of starvation' off of my Worried Things That Could Happen list.  'Eat food meant for human beings' still unchecked though.  There's no way I'm eating Subway unless I really AM starving, so the search will continue.
An improvement- there's a Burger King.  It's called the "BK Whopper Bar", which gives me hope that perhaps this BK serves alcohol.  Still- there's a cringing soul death to eating such American food when I'm this far away.  Search continues.

Holy smokes: so THAT'S what the noise was while I tried to sleep through the Singapore day.  The hotel is right next to some sort of restaurant/nightclub/party/tourist district.  It's packed full of people (I'm assuming they're all tourists, even the Asian ones).  Every shop appears to be a restaurant.  HERE is where I'll find someplace to eat.  I spent a good 45 minutes walking around, trying to not lose my bearings of where the hotel is.  I'd hate to lose it and have to take a taxi to my hotel a block away because I'm lost.  Most of the restaurants look good, but they also appear to be totally set up for families and large groups.  And that's exactly who's eating at all of them.  I stroll by a Hooters- yes, there's a Hooters here.  A quick glance tells me that it's the saddest place on earth, and I keep walking.
There's a huge restaurant called Jumbo seafood- I like the sound of that.  I have visions of gigantic prawns the size of footballs dancing in my head.  No luck: this place is packed, and I'm too self conscious at the moment to sit by myself at a table for 8.  

I finally decide on Octapas, which is -hold onto your minds- a Tapas restaurant.  Their tables look to be no more than 3 people, so I won't look like such a loser tourist here by myself.  The waiter walks up:  "you waiting on a date?"  No.  "You looking to hook up?"  No (well...yes....but no, no...what the? no.).  I still want seafood- I order the fried squid rings.  The waiter hovers.  Clearly I haven't ordered enough.  I add on the fried potatoes.  And a Pepsi.  
The tv is showing the Live8 concert from a few years back for some reason.  Like the rest of the civilized world, I completely ignored that concert.  Watching these highlights, I clearly missed out on the stupidest concert of all time.  Let me digress from the exciting world of Tapas in Singapore to tell you about Live8:
- hmm...Sting has the crowd rocking.  People LOVE Sting.
- Chris Tucker is on stage in a huge white jacket.  It probably cost him $2000.  He introduces himself and says that the point of the concert is to eradicate global poverty.  "For once and for all."  Two seconds of thinking makes me realize that the only way this is remotely possible is for Everyone On Earth to agree to evenly share all the money & resources in the world.  This concert is even stupider than I ever would have imagined.  Chris Tucker concludes his 30 seconds of introduction by saying "..and speaking of destiny... Destiny's Child!!!!"
- Beyonce looks like a drag queen.  Even more than usual.  
- Beyonce keeps moving apart from the other two, but then remembers it's not a solo show and walks back to be near them.  She acknowledges Kelly Rowland exists, but at this point I'd guess she can't even remember the third one's name.
- Beyonce's weave probably cost more than Chris Tucker's jacket.  I wonder if anyone even told her that this concert was about poverty.  Probably not.  I sure wouldn't- that drag queen has a stare of death, I'm sure of it.
- Destiny's Child was playing in Philadelphia.  The American part of this concert was in Philly?  That's stupid (and yes, I know the original Live Aid's US portion was in Philadelphia).  
- Although, I'm guessing Philly DOES know and care about poverty.  
- Next up:  Bryan Adams live from Canada.  I wonder if people shout out Ryan Adams song requests. I wonder if he plays a song written later than 1991. 

BACK to the Tapas.  The food is okay.  Surprisingly, not as good as the Atlanta tapas places.  I get a refill on Pepsi and realize refills aren't free as I watch the waiter put that on my bill.  Crud- it's one of THOSE countries.  I've eaten 10 squid rings, about 8 potato wedges, and two Pepsis.  This costs me $40.  
I celebrate by taking 20 minutes to find the Haagen Dazs cart I passed 4 times, and spent another $10 on two scoops. 

a flight, a hotel, a jet lag coma

There's no advice I can give you on how to survive 20 hours of flying.  I can tell you that on a flight from LA to Tokyo, everyone closes their windows.  Everyone.  Almost immediately.  Even though my flight left at 1pm, all the passengers seemed to want it to be nighttime as soon as possible.  
My theories for this include:
a. as you're flying over the Pacific, there's really nothing to see
b. it's insanely bright.  sky, clouds, wings of the plane: nearly pure white. it hurt my eyes.
c. it's a 13 hour flight to Tokyo, and people wanted to sleep as soon as possible.
d. it's easier to watch the tv screen when it's dark.

I had a window seat as usual, but I was peer pressured to close my window (and directly asked by the guy two seats over, less than 20 minutes into the flight), so the point of having a window seat was lost.  The guy right next to me went to sleep an hour and a half in, with his tray table down, meaning I was stuck.  What an asshole.  I should've spit in his water. He also slept for a good 9 hours straight.  I hated him.

Fast forward to the Singapore hotel: the Swissotel.  It's a European hotel in Singapore, and therefore totally confusing.  It took me a few tries to figure out the details of how the room even worked.  The lights only come on if your keycard is in a slot by the door.  The lightswitch isn't there though- it's over by the bed.  And it's not a switch, it's a button on the alarm clock.  The minibar is stocked, but the bottle of water costs $7.50 and the tiny can of Pringles is $5.  I'm starving, but won't stoop to such blatant robbery.  The air conditioning is on the Antarctica setting, and it took me a day to figure it out.  Silly me- the controls for it are ALSO on the alarm clock.  As is the 'do not disturb' light.  
Which thankfully I managed to turn on before crashing asleep around 3am.  

half a world away

I have lost track of time.

By my rough calculations, I was in flight for something around 20 hours.  I slept for some of it, but I couldn't tell you for how long.  I spent a day prior in Los Angeles, which broke up the overall flight time, but further threw my time out of balance.  I had a brief layover to change flights in Tokyo, but was there long enough only to acknowledge that I was in Tokyo.  

I arrived in Singapore, cleared customs, and paid $50 for a cab ride to my hotel.  It probably only cost $30, but all I had was $50 bills.  Plus the cab driver told me that he waited 2.5 hours to pick me up- and that the taxi line to pick up arriving passengers at the airport was usually 3 miles long.  
The cabbie also knew these facts about the US:  we were in debt and never going to pay it off, Obama was our president, and no matter what the US was still better off than when Bush was president (thus earning his tip in my book).

1am and I've checked into the hotel.  I'm glad just to finally be standing.