Singapore Muse

Consumerism runs rampant in SE Asia. In the west there is a certain factor that is on the down slide from wanting to own everything but the apex of that curve has not reached Asia yet. It is unlikely to do so soon. The corporations of the world realize that in order to sustain themselves they need constant turn over of goods and the huge population of Asia is a perfect target. If you want to find the crowds in any Asian city head to the main shopping areas. In Singapore it would be Orchard Road. The sidewalks are at least 10M wide and are quite crowded. We feel like we are the only people not carrying bags. Sales are good today.

Wherever in the world it is generally accepted one walks on the sidewalk as the traffic is on the road. If the cars drive on the left side of the road, on the sidewalk you walk on the left. Here the sidewalks do not necessarily follow that pattern. We try but no matter what side of the walk we are on we feel like we are swimming up stream. The one place where this pattern is strictly followed is when we move vertically, up and down stairs or on an escalator. On the escalator, the rule of stand on one side, here the left and walk on the other is followed. Again something we could adopt in NA a little more stringently.

Last night we thought we should indulge ourselves and stop for some ice cream. After a search we found a shoppe and were checking things out when we realized an ice cream cone was $10, that’s Singapore dollars but they are roughly equivalent to Canadian dollars. Must be a real treat to eat ice cream in Singapore. We did however satisfy our urge after stopping at a 7/11 and saw that Magnum bars were on sale for $2.90. We shared one!

The humidity here is killing us. The temp is a mere 31C. A perfectly acceptable and workable temperature but as we walk through the very dense air we sweat and the fatigue sets in. Debbie checks the weather when we return to the hotel room and it indicates ‘feels like’ 37 C, no wonder were are cooked.

Chili crab is signature dish of Singapore. We headed to Newton Hawker Centre to see what the fuss is about. It was OK but not something I would return for. At the suggestion of the hotel concierge we ordered it with mild chili paste. It comes on a large plate with a smashed crab covered in the sauce. Crab meat does not have a very strong taste and it is far over powered by the heat of the sauce. Both Debbie and I had our mouths on fire by the end of the meal and we were underwhelmed by this local delicacy. This one was better then the last though as last time I spilled chili crab sauce all over my pants and had to go buy new ones.

The Newton Centre is a slight more upscale hawker court but, although tourists have a greater presence, it is still overwhelmingly occupied by locals having dinner. We think that the majority of the meals here are not cooked in the home. The living area is small and the luxury of a kitchen and dining area would be a rarity. That is just a supposition.

In some cities the pedestrian puts their life in peril just crossing a street. Even if the light says “Walk” cars have the right of passage. In some cities like Edmonton, the pedestrian walks out on the road without so much as looking up from their cell phone and they truly expect to live. In Singapore the pedestrian/vehicle interface is one of respect from both sides. If it is more efficient for a pedestrian to pause and let a vehicle into a gap in traffic they do. If there seems to be no urgency for a car to move, the driver will pause and let the peds cross. It is easy even for a non local to get the hang of. It is sort of passive aggression.

At home the city in all its wisdom has adopted a system that encourages and trains pedestrians to cross on a wait light. The green walk man is extinguished and a count down with the flashing red wait hand commences, but pedestrians still cross during the countdown. Here the count is coordinated with the green flashing walk man and when the red hand shines the pedestrians stop. In my humble opinion this simple difference unconsciously trains the population to obey the law and the end result is smoother traffic flow on both the walking and vehicular side.

Tonight we are off to see a light show at the Gardens by the Bay. Saturday night out on the town, OH BOY don’t we lead an exciting life!

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