Greetings from Bali, Indonesia! Jimmy and I started our Southeast Asia adventure eight days ago, and yes, this is the first time I’ve put fingers to keyboard to update you on our whereabouts. Still, quite a lag since the last post (which I wrote two weeks ago but just posted now), but I am slowly improving my cadence. Also, I have real, live excuses: since my last post, two computers have gone totally and completely kaput, which has made blogging (and facebooking, oh the horror!) a little more challenging.
But anyway, here we are in Bali – recovered, mostly, from jet lag, and also that weird haze that I feel envelopes you for days every time you travel around the world. Not that I am complaining. This past eight days has been amazing.
We landed in Singapore late on a Wednesday night, after a 14-hour flight to Tokyo (sushi – yay!) and another 7-hour flight to “the city-state,” as we have taken to calling Singapore. I spent a summer in Singapore with a youth group when I was 18, byt my memories were mostly hazy. I remember eating spring rolls for the first time – and the second, and the third, and the twelfth – and playing basketball with some teenage schoolgirls wearing long skirts. I remember this struck me as really odd, that they were wearing skirts to play basketball, but in retrospect I don’t know why I was so confused since I also had to wear uniforms in junior high and highschool, and I often played basketball in skirts myself.
But I digress. Turns out my memories of Singapore had a heavy editor. The city (-state) is a mesmerizing swirl of cultures and traffic and religions and food (including, but not limited to, egg rolls) – and humidity. And oh yes, shopping. And more shopping. The first day, we took a tool down to Orchard Road, Singapore’s main shopping area. Jimmy was mesmerized by the glitzy, multi-story shopping centers with air con streaming out onto the street and filled with shops and restaurants where you could buy, and do, just about anything. I mean, there were stores for book bags and stores for wakeboards. Stores for shoes and swimsuits and wallets and perfume. There was even a flight simulator in one of the malls. Some recent reports are predicting Singapore to be the world’s richest country by 2050, and after being there, I believe it.
It is also perhaps the world’s most rule-oriented city. No gum chewing, no trash throwing, no leaving the public toilets unflushed, no jay walking, no canoodling. What, no canoodling?! There are stiff penalties too, like being put to death or a good cane-ing. You can imagine what all these rules make me want to do: chew gum like a madwoman, of course ! I did jaywalk, once or twice maybe, but Jimmy kept a keen eye on me to make sure my little indiscretions didn’t turn into something more serious.
We also explored Chinatown and Little India, both fascinating areas of the downtown area – and rode the Singapore Flyer, the world’s largest ferris wheel (before boarding we were informed in a very relevant way how much the darn thing weighs – 443 elephants).
On Friday we took the amazing metro system, which easily beats any public transportation system I have been on anywhere in the world, to the western part of the island. Following some vague internet directions, we hoped to walk the seven miles from the University of Singapore to the main harbor through a series of trails. After ending up in several construction zones in the university, making our way through a giant office complex with gleaming science labs (turns out Science Park was an office park) and begging directions from kind strangers who wondered why we would want to walkto Harbourfront, we found a well signposted trail. Composed of paved trails, canopy walks, and bridges, the trail was a fantastic tour through some of the green, lush parts of the island – including horticultural gardens and monkey territories. This was my favorite day of our visit to Singapore.
Five days was both enough, and not enough, time in Singapore. It’s a pricey place, so staying too long was not really an option unless we want our trip to be very, very short. But despite rumors to the contrary, it was my impression that there is a lot to see and do there, other than the girls playing basketball in skirts.
Next up, surfing and sunning in Indonesia…