Posted by Emily Block | 1 comments

Singapore: City of the Future!

   Stepping off the boat in Singapore was like stepping into the future.  The first thing I noticed was the beautiful skyscrapers that reached up to the sky from every direction.  There were even sky cars between some of the buildings!  (Ok, so they are called gondolas, but sky cars makes it sound cooler.)  We exited the ship into a huge building that housed customs as well as a most excellent mall.  Needless to say, many people were late back to the boat in the evening.  haha  Everything was completely spotless and shiny.  Makes it hard to argue with all those strict cleanliness laws.  Maybe we should adopt some fines for not flushing public toilets in the states.  :0P

 Despite Singapore being completely awesome, I had a pretty terrible start to my day.  We didn't get off the boat until well after 8:00 and I had a field program at 9:00 that I was really excited about.  Because of customs, it took almost an hour to get off the boat (and I was probably in the first 1/3 off the boat.)  SAS field programs are supposed to wait for everyone, especially if the delays were due to SAS or customs.  All the other groups waited, but mine left without me.  :0(  When I got to the area where I was supposed to meet my group, they were long gone.  The lady in charge of the trips from the Singapore side of things was pretty rude to me when I was trying to figure things out.  She was all in a huff because no one told her I was in a wheelchair.  I asked if I could get to my field program and she said that I should go to the zoo instead because that was "much more suited for someone like [me]."  I HATE when people decide what I can and can't do without knowing anything about me.  (My friend went on the field program that I missed and they said it was 100% accessible.)  So after my hopes of catching up via a taxi were dashed I agreed to go on the zoo field program but I wasn't going to pay for it.  I still wasn't happy, but at least it was free and I was going to the zoo.  You may already have some idea about how I feel about zoos.  (It's favorable, by the way.)

    The zoo was beautiful and completely earned it's title of being the best in Asia and among the best in the world.  Much of it didn't even feel like a zoo.  The monkeys and some other animals weren't even in enclosures.  They just roamed around in the trees which were cleverly arranged to keep them in certain areas naturally.  There were lots of chances to interact with the animals through scheduled feedings.  I really wish I could have done one of the feedings, but we weren't there long enough.  STill, the zoo was laid out to allow up close viewing of the animals with few crowds to compete with.  

Yay for sexual dimorphism!  

Mose deer is cute and he knows it!

Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!

Manatees have really cool lips!  They kind of act like fingers helping them eat!

  That said, I had a pretty horrible time.  More than exploring the zoo, we practically ran though it.  At each animal, our guide was prodding us along and imploring us to hurry.  I was also feeling completely rotten to the point just sitting in the chair was rough.  I needed someone to push me and the two wonderful women who volunteered for this had to card me up and down really steep hills.  I felt HORRIBLE that they were stuck pushing me instead of just enjoying the little time we had in the zoo.  On top of that, I got a really bad headache from the midodrine which was a very bad sign.  I shouldn't get one of those unless my surgery was failing.  That coupled with my recent inability to hold on to fluids did not make for happy, optimistic thoughts.

  I was planning on going back to the ship and pouting for the rest of the day, but my luck started to change instead.  I got back in time to make it to an afternoon field program that I had really wanted to go on, but hadn't been able to get a ticket.  There was extra space and even an extra ticket so I got to go for free!  And Hannah and Andrea were on the trip too!  And my second dose of Midodrine kicked in with no headache and lots of wonderful vasoconstriction so I could walk a bit!  

 The tour was excellent taking us through some of the many different cultures in Singapore.  Possibly even more than the U.S., Singapore is a country largely made up of immigrants which resulted in a really beautiful array of cultures and traditions.  In the past, there was tension and inequality between the different cultures, but things are better (though not perfect) now. 

  Our first stop was in the Middle Eastern part of the city.  I was so excited!  Islam has been my favorite religion since I first learned about it in 7th grade.  (I know it's completely pathetic that I didn't even know that Islam existed until then, but I've hopefully made up for it since then.)  The architecture was stunning and the smell from the food shops was wonderful.  I wish I had time to stop for a snack!  The highlight of this stop was a visit to the Mosque.  Once again, beautiful architecture.  I had to put on a robe because I was showing too much skin and hair, but I didn't mind.  It was my first time in a mosque so I was really excited.  I have always wanted to use the like five worlds I know in Arabic and with the exception with responding to a greeting from a lady in a shop in a small town in Germany several years ago, this was my first chance.  I timidly walked up to two of the people who worked there and greeted them with "Peace be with you" in Arabic.  I don't know the spelling, but it is something like, "asulam ulakum."  I then waited for the criticism of my atrocious accent that I so deserved, but instead the two men were really excited that I was trying to speak Arabic.  I spent the rest of the time talking to them and learning all about Islam.  Most of the things I already knew from various research papers, I've done, but it was very cool to hear it in person.  I was actually almost left by my group because I was so long there.  Before I left, we exchanged facebook info and e-mails and they gave me a book about Islam and a notepad with a picture of the mosque on it.  :0)  I wish more people would learn about Islam aside from all the fear and nonsense most people associate with the religion.  

  The next stop was Little India.  There were definitely similar things between Little India and actual India, but it was more like what someone thought India would be like.  It was very fun though.  One of the things I'm learning from the trip is that an "authentic experience" is usually a staged experience.  True "authentic experiences" can often seem somewhat disappointing to a tourist.  It's our canoe driver using a cell phone, kids in a rural India village playing video games, and singing a top forty hit with kids in Ghana.  REally the goal shouldn't even be an authentic experience, but rather to look at the various experiences an understand them in context.  Is this a performance catering to what tourists want to see?  Or is it genuinely a part of daily life?  Is the presence of tourist helping preserve cultural practices or is it diluting true traditions with attractive ones.  Either way, the experience can be fun and interesting.    (Ok off of my soap box now.)  

 I finally got my beautiful henna I so desperately wanted!  The guy who did the henna was an amazing artist!  He did this elaborate design in only a couple of minutes!  Unlike the other henna I got, I don't think this will make my skin peel off after a few days.  haha  I also finally found a top hits Bollywood CD!  It has the top 100 songs from 2011 and so far is excellent!  

   Our final stop was in China Town.  Expecting the same old thing I visit almost monthly in San Francisco, I was excited to see the culture, food, and shops that was completely unique.  Our guide stopped by a famous dried meats store and got us some delicious jerky for us to try.  One was pork which tasted like maple syrup and bacon.  I could have eaten about a ton of it!  The other kind was a little more exotic.  I'm going to let your imagination go with that for a few minutes before I tell you what it was.  :0P

    There was a beautiful Hindu temple in China Town as well.  I couldn't get over the attention to detail in the art and architecture of the temple.  There were brightly colored murals and intricately carved statues throughout the in and outside of the building.  I made a donation so I could take pictures and added a little extra to purchase a prayer candle.  One of the men working there was excited about my interest and showed me how to properly light the candle and pray.  I'm not so good with the praying, but I did think about how lucky I am, how I miss people who have passed on, and how a cure for dysautonomia would be really excellent.  I then lit the candle and concluded the prayer repeating the words the man taught me.  


While I was in the temple, a thunderstorm blew in much to my excitement.  I never really understood how thunder could scare people over the age of five, but oh my goodness it was loud!  Like ground shaking loud!  The lightning was striking all over the place so we had to stay inside to avoid being struck.  Which I mostly listened to.  After I got impatient waiting inside, I wandered back out to peruse the vendors in my last few minutes before we had to be back on the bus.  My stomach was rumbling since I really hadn't eaten that day since breakfast.  I found the strangest looking food item I could and bought it to eat.  It's called a shrimp cracker and it tasted like french fries and other good things.  I was very proud of myself that I ate the whole thing, prawn brains and all.  Thank you Bizarre Foods guy!  :0)  

 On the way back to the bus, I made a big oops.  There was a man using a wheelchair going up a small hill.  I was so excited to go talk to him that I think I was a little overwhelming.  See, I don't' really notice whether I am using a wheelchair or not.  As long as I am moving, it feels natural to me.  So I ran up to this poor guy jabbering about if I could help him and how I use a wheelchair too and I was so excited to meet him.  He didn't speak English though and was perplexed by my enthusiasm.  I asked if I could help him up the hill and I think he thought I asked something else because he said yes.  I started helping him and he started shaking his head and saying "no thanks. no thanks."  I had blundered into doing something I can't stand; walking up to a stranger and helping him when he didn't need or want it.  Sigh.  I apologized profusely and then ran off with my metaphorical tail between my legs.  Someday I will learn, but apparently it was not that day.

 BAck at the boat dock, I split off with Andrea and Josh to go explore the mall.  So much fun!  We somehow ended up on the roof and were surprised to find a small beach! I'm telling you, city of the future!

Also a tripple helix strand of Time Lord DNA.  :0P

  I spent most of my money on food and have no complaints.  I got some great sushi for dinner along with some snacks for back on the ship.  We found an amazing bakery and got some sweets to go along with our dinner.  Andrea and I split a slice of truffle cake which I'm pretty sure is served for breakfast everyday in heaven.  :0)
Not sure this would have a good flavor....

Om nom nom nom!

  It was time to go back and I still has some money left so I naturally bought a horrifying zombie stuffed animal.  It was either that or $15 worth of kinder chocolate.  I think my strange monkey stuffed animal and my new zombie stuffed animal will get along nicely.

  After rushing back to the ship (and then clapping for all the people who were late like the evil people we are) we hung out in my room for a bit and then concluded a busy and mixed emotion day with a late bedtime.  

To the ship!  To the ship!  To the ship!  

Josh is excited about his new pocket watch.  

Also, the jerky was lobster jerky.  And it was delicious.  


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