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. 

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