I used Singapore as a kind of personal pit-stop, and got a haircut and dental cleaning, and visited a chiropractor. In the process, I met several interesting people who gave some perspective on the city. Singapore’s culture is very unique to the area; it would seem to be the only completely first-world country in Southeast Asia.
On arriving at Singapore’s train station, after a rush-hour wait, we finally got a cab, driven by a guy named Terence. We got to chatting, and when we asked him whether he thought the government was corrupt (everyone seems to think so about their own governments in the other countries we’ve visited), he said "Singapore is incorruptible."
The next day, Evande cut my hair, and gave me some shopping, eating and clubbing suggestions. She also told me Cosmopolitan magazine was outlawed in Singapore till recently, and if you had one, all your friends wanted to read it.
And the day after that, Terence’s friend drove me to the dentist. When we left the city center, the landscape was all apartment towers. He explained that 90% of Singaporeans actually live in government sponsored housing. In Singapore, government housing is a way of life — part of the way the economy works — and not at all welfare.
We drove into a neighborhood of apartment towers, with homegrown businesses on the bottom floors, and the cab driver actually got out to search for the dentist’s office for me. Now that’s service!
Once he’d found it, he came back and led me through a couple buildings to the dentist’s office. It was nice just being in a real neighborhood, and seeing all the locals waiting for their appointments, some of them sitting on the grass outside.
Another day, I visited a chiropractor I’d found online. Before my adjustment, I had an interesting chat with Luke, who’d studied in the US. He told me about a good scuba spot in Indonesia. And the next morning, I wasn’t sore in the morning for the first time in weeks.
After that, we had an enjoyable lunch with Georgina, a friend of a New York friend. That’s her up above with the peanuts. We ate at a great "healthy" Chinese restaurant, by what’s supposed to be Southeast Asia’s biggest fountain. Georgina ordered for us. I especially liked the boiled peanuts that tasted like the tea eggs I eat in New York’s Chinatown.
It was really interesting to talk to someone from our kind of demographic in Singapore, and learn a little about her perspective. She said she actually feels really at home in New York, and enjoys its grittiness. It reminded me of how the Dutch have this really well-planned, gridded existence, because space at such a premium there, and how designers there are often attracted to messiness.
After chatting about business ideas and aspirations for a while, we headed to the fountain. According to legend, you walk around the inner fountain three times for financial luck.
The next day, the middle-aged man who drove us to the ferry port was… unique. I asked him about the humidifier on his dash; he told me it was actually a sanitizer.
And added, "The Chinese people are a pain in the neck."
"They’re selfish and inconsiderate. I should know, I’m one of them." He then began a disjointed monologue about people who get in the cab and are sick, but don’t tell him so. And how there can be all these germs floating around that won’t harm you, but of course he’s going to breathe in the one deadly one. And how he doesn’t want to die from a stupid germ. The only way he wants to die is for the love of a girl. A germ won’t cry at your tombstone, but a girl will. But he hasn’t found that girl yet. But he shouldn’t cast aspersions on others before taking the blame himself. People around here are a pain in the neck — they’re greedy and selfish and only want money, but him too. He certainly must have been an evil person in a past life, to be a taxi driver in this one. Being a taxi driver is like being a slave. In his next life, he’ll have a different wife. And he won’t make the same mistakes as in this one — he’ll only give his wife 60% of his love, and keep 40% on reserve. Oh, look at that driver. Crazy driver. Oh, wait, it’s a foreigner. They don’t know how to drive here and can be excused. My sincerest apologies. Master, we have arrived at the ferry terminal.
Thus ended our stay in Singapore.