Wednesday, October 04, 2006

May I Enjoy Myself, Please!

Singapore is a remarkably clean, well organized city, and the people are generally polite, even friendly. The instinctive reaction, upon making eye contact here, is to smile, and people say, "sorry," for almost bumping into you, or blocking your way. This is refreshing after Korea, where public manners fall on the opposite end of the scale.

the new backpack, poor kids

school's out

The public transportation system is efficient, clean, and easy to use, and the lush tropical foliage runs riot amidst a well-balanced combination or modern and colonial architecture. Malls and shops offer an endless array of international brands at fair prices, and a diverse population, both racially and religiously, co-exist peacefully. A part of me admires the order and harmony of Singapore, and another part finds it a little bit sterile.

wrought iron fountain and war memorial

building and jungle in battle

lit up for Ramadan

When I arrived, I bought a pack of cigarettes. After paying 90 cents a pack in Mongolia, and 2$ in Korea, the 8$ price tag was a shock. What was worse, I spent hard-earned money to look at a picture of a bloody baby.

I don't know if that baby is dead outside of the womb, photographed inside the womb, or maybe just a sci-fi movie leftover. I wish it wasn't presented for me to consider, but if it's really a miscarried baby, what almost mother was guilted into volunteering for the photo? And if it's a sci-fi extra, isn't that a bit deceitful?

Anyways, I started down the street with that pack, and I couldn't even stand to take it out of my bag to get one. I would shut my eyes tight, reach in, and fish around, hoping to be spared a glance at the thing. I'm living proof that people can get used to anything, because by the end of the pack, the guilt inducing photo was right out there on the table as I had my coffee and wrote in my notebook, as if it were the most usual thing.

I stumbled upon the Singapore biennial that day, held at the old City Hall. It was all new media work, some of it more, and some of it less interesting.

glad I missed that


In Malaysia, thankfully, lecture free cigarettes are the norm. I meant to stock up while I was there, but I forgot. So, this morning I rolled the dice, and out of an array including foot pustulence and neck cancer, I got the mouth-rot pack, a whole new horror to get used to. Can I at least enjoy killing myself, please!

and who volunteered for this photo?

After I got off the bus from Malaysia, found my room, and dumped my bag, I proceeded to treat myself as if I were and eight year old on her birthday, with coffee and cigarettes standing in for cake and ice cream. First, I went to Pizza Hut and had a Veggie Lover's plus pepperoni. By the way, when did pineapple become a vegetable? Then, I went next door to Starbuck's and had a giant coffee. And then, as an ultimate birthday extravaganza, I took a ride on the world's largest tethered balloon.

The DHL balloon's top altitude is 150 meters, or about 40 stories. The ascent took 2 minutes, we stayed and swayed in the wind above the city for 4, and the descent took 4 minutes. It was dusk, so I didn't get any pictures of the city, but they wouldn't capture the sensation anyways. Once again, dear readers, you will have to try this for yourself.

I leave this internet cafe to pick up my bag, then board the subway to the airport, then board a plane to Delhi, India, in about 30 minutes. Amazingly, I have offloaded and repacked my bag twice, once in Seoul, and once here, and it is still full. I can't understand it; I have only the most minimal necessities:

2 pairs pants
1 skirt
9 underwear items
3 t-shirts
1 turtleneck
1 pashmina
4 pairs socks
1 pair hiking boots
1 pair sandals
1 diving mask
1 snorkel
1 swimming suit
1 travel Scrabble board
1 Collected R.W. Emerson
1 Light on Yoga
2 thin notebooks
1 small bags assorted electronics doodads
1 sleeping bag
3 pencils
2 pens
1 hand towel
1 bag assorted toiletries (no makeup)
1 first aid kit
1 wind breaker
1 warm (but light and small) jacket
2 New Yorker magazines
2 pairs glasses (1 sun, 1 regular)

And that's all. Why in hell is my bag still full? Maybe my idea of necessity will change.

I arrive in Dehli at 11 pm, where I already have a reservation. Tommorow I have to find a hospital and get some vaccinations, one part of being an unplanner that's not so great.

Wish me luck.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

okay the "guilt" cigarettes are really funny - an American company required to do that! They will stoop to any level, just KEEP THE PEOPLE SMOKING!!! Obviously they have no guilt - the corporate "they" - but we knew that already!

4:22 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous maryeats said...

Carolyn brought a bounch of packs of smokes back from aussie with nasty pictures too. Freekin' sick.

9:45 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous carolyn said...

Hello Desiree. What a bittersweet little hour I've had just now, peeping at your blog. I didn't even know you had one, though I've gotten snippets here and there about you ever since you left for Mongolia. I happened to be looking at Maryeats earlier and clicked on a link to your site.

Did you know I met your dog and fell in love with him too, while you were away? My cat Louie (back home in Oz with my mum and dad) is also called Sir Wobbly Woo.

Desiree I feel sad, that I met you and that we could've been friends. Stupid tears started coming up when I saw the picture of all your forlorn looking bits of abandoned furniture; why? Should've been friends. Blame me for meeting Tracey at about the same time you and i met and burying myself in romantic love. Too busy for anyone else. Bugger that.

You're funny. I love your blog. I'll follow you! Take care.
love Carolyn.

4:02 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, I was gonna make some snide comment, and then I read the above! The full bag thing...I've never understood that either, oddness...

We are going to TRIAD this thursday, it will be strange without yourself, thinking of bringing a cut out version of you and placing it in front of some art, what do you think?


8:57 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Desiree said...

That in itself would be a work of art, Kev!

10:22 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Desiree said...

Thanks Carolyn, I'm sure we all miss a lot of things because of timing.

Anonymous, are you a closet smoker? You should come out, there are a lot of benefits!

10:23 AM GMT-5  

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