To Thai for

December 5, 2006

Sorry, terrible title I know, but I reckon I’ll just sit here musing and not write the actual blog entry if I don’t just get on with it.

Now in Bangkok, in an internet place where you put money in a slot like a fruit machine. It seems like a pleasant city, and hopefully a few days here will help sort Fran’s ‘ealth. After the rigours of Mumbai, I’m beginning to suspect any big city we visit will feel quite pleasant and easy-going. Well, maybe until we reach Mexico City.

Anyway, Mumbai was fascinating and Coloba had a bustling, tragic, decrepid appeal. Getting out of there was gruelling though. Suffice to say, Mumbai has traffic problems that make the London rush hour seem like a Sunday drive in the country in the Home Counties circa 1950.

We had another overnight flight to Singapore. As usual, neither of us could sleep (it’s so frustrating – I can just about snooze a bit in cars, coaches and trains, but not planes), but thankfully it was a fairly short one (five ish hours) and we arrived in Singapore early in the morning. A real shock after Mumbai. It’s not as sterile as I’d imagined, but there’s no graffiti anywhere and roadworks even seem to involve staff with dustpans and brushes who constantly clean up. Heck, we were even arrested for jaywalking, as we’d feared.

We arrived really early at the hostel we’d booked, and weren’t entirely enamoured of the slumbering twenty-somethings, lack of staff and sense of the morning after the night before (a trance party, a sign informed us). Still, we’d paid in advance, so didn’t want to waste the money. After a somnambulistic potter around, we managed to check in – to a weird windowless room with leaking air con pipes.

Thankfully, we were able to recover our bearings and a sense that all is right with the world when we met up with a friend later on. Mister Savage, aka Nick Savage, is a BBC Collective old lag, someone I’ve chatted with online for probably three years. Him and his missus Caroline (aka Dr Parkin, union with its origins on Collective; how about that for a recommendation for a quality online community?), tooks us out for food and plentiful beer, then introduced us to the horrifyingly compelling sight of Orchard Road in December.

This is Singapore’s main shopping street. It’s a mystery how Singaporeans make enough money to shop so fervently, but shop they do. The place is probably a bit longer than Oxford Street, but every block is a huge mall. It’s mall city. It’s stupendously crowded (especially late at night, in December seemingly). It’s hellish. But somehow awesome – especially with the epic kitsch of the Xmas decorations (in a town where probably less than 10% of the population is Christian, rest assured this is very much Xmas, not Christmas, a time of shopping and shopping and shoppping, not a time of religious significance. Unless you acknowledge consumerism as a religion that is).

Sheesh. What a sight. Even Nick and Caroline were shocked and exhausted by it. To further exploit the above metaphor, it almost makes Xmas shopping on Oxford Street seem like a stroll through a 1950s Home Counties village on a Sunday afternoon… Almost.

After a surprisingly good sleep at the hostel, we went over to Nick and Caroline’s, taking them up on a kind offer of somewhere to stay. (Avoiding a night in a hostel dorm thankfully. I’m too old for that, thanks.) We experienced the pleasures of a Singapore hawker centre – place of myriad quality fast food outlets – then strolled through the Botanical Gardens. Before arriving back at Orchard Road. I was desperate for a movie, keen to see Flags of Our Fathers or something robust, but after battling through crowds and getting out timing wrong we took in Open Season instead. Which was benign enough, but the CGI movies genre effectively created by Pixar with Toy Story is getting increasingly generic these days.

We planned a trip to the famed Singapore Zoo in the evening, but slacked off as hanging out at Nick and Caroline’s place was just so nice – home comforts in a sea of airports, unfamiliar cities and anonymous hotels and guesthouses. And heck, after using their whizzy laptop to upload some pics to here on Flickr, Nick and withdrew to the Xbox 360 for some Company of Heroes 3 multiplayer. I was pretty poor (especially against Nick; I blame it on the weird reticle, which behaves so differently to that of Halo 2), but not the poorest online. I’m not sure I’ve had massive videogaming withdrawal symptoms, but I do miss it to some extent, something I fight sharply when Nick showed us the weird top floor of a mall where dozens of kids used PCs to play sundry games. Seeing several playing World of Warcraft gave me a pang.

(PS – can’t work out the text wrap on the picture, which annoys me but might not rile anyone else…)

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2 Responses to “To Thai for”

  1. heather smith Says:

    Hi just read your blog, I am Carolines sister & was seeing what people had to say about her in singapore. Really nice to know they have lots of visitors.
    take care
    Heather


  2. Hi Heather

    Yeah, we had a great time with Caroline and Nick. After being in Mumbai ad being away from home for some long, it was great that they took us in and gave us some good company and quality time!

    Dan


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