Trip Report – Round-the-world 2013 – Singapore Day 1

A peculiar thing happened overnight. We were exhausted, and the boy fell asleep at a surprisingly acceptable time – around 10pm, which, considering jetlag and so on, was only “morning” from whence we came. So it surprised us, but we were happy, since we could conk off to sleep, too, so we did.

In the middle of the night, around 2am, I felt our phone was ringing. Of course, I thought, I am dreaming. Who the hell would call us in the middle of the night… right? Right. I got up anyway, went to the bathroom. Where the phone rang again. I picked it up, and there was a ringtone. Finding it progressively more bizarre, I was about to head back to sleep, when the doorbell rang. Once again, I figured this to be a dream – twelve hours of flight coupled with a six-hour time difference with the last place and a twelve-hour time difference with home CAN have hallucinogenic effects in the middle of the night. But I decided to entertain my dream, so I went to the door. The doorbell rang again as I was walking to it (not to sound corny, but moving around this suite was proving to be a challenge with the distances involved). I got to the door, and it was obviously pitch black everywhere; so I looked into the eyehole. I saw three men dressed in security uniforms and … my boy with them, wearing his pajamas and socks, no shoes. Smiling. This was progressively getting more and more “wtf”.

At this point, I decided I was definitely sleeping and turned around to go back to sleep, ’cause seriously, this was starting to border on the insane. But the doorbell rang again. I thought, just how much more surreal can this get – let’s open the door, and see what happens; so I did. In a very puzzling turn of event, it turned out to not be a dream. My boy was actually there, with three hotel security guards, who apparently found him wandering around the hallways somewhat lost, but in no panic, or hurry, whatsoever. They then recalled that there was a boy on this floor that had a birthday; and they exercised their deductive powers to assume that I was the father. Their logical reasoning was further reinforced when he ran to me and gave me a hug.

This was a very strange start to the day, and a tremendously surreal experience. I have now come to appreciate the beauty of deadbolt locks on doors. We went back to sleep.

When morning came, we set out to explore Singapore. We basically had two full days: our flight was departing at 1am in the evening of day 2, so we basically had a full day 1, and a full day 2, followed by the flight late, very late at night. Day 1 was to be spent exploring the city and seeing what we could. It’s never possible to see much in a single go, so I had limited expectations (and especially since we’d just spent a week bouncing around Bologna, London, Bologna, then a 12 hour flight).

We started the day by having breakfast in the hotel lounge. Not much to talk about there – it was decent, some things here and there, but the view was nice:

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The awful monstrosity on the left is Marina Bay Sands – a five-star hotel with glorious views, an amazing infinity swimming pool (search for “marina bay sands swimming pool” and hit Images), and terrible service and a very average hotel experience, as far as I understand it. Oh, and it costs a fortune. But I guess the pool must be worth it.

We began our day by visiting the Singapore Toy Museum. I didn’t think much of it when I saw the ad, but having gone, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s not big, but carries an awesome selection of older toys – considering how plastic the world has become, and considering how full of Cars / Toy Story / Disney *.* / etc we have become, it makes one pause and appreciate a little bit how the old world used to be. It would be so that you could travel to another country, buy something unique, and bring it back – and nobody would have anything similar, and you could cherish it as a unique object. Now, I can go anywhere I want, and the junk I buy for a child will still have Cars or Toy Story for boys, and … I don’t know, some other branding for girls. It’s absolutely frustrating and discouraging. Not that I am going to go on a long diatribe about globalisation, idiotification of the citizenry and the upbringing of a compliant and conformant class of children who all grow up on the same plastic junk – this really isn’t the point of this blog – but I am rather saddened at the lack of uniqueness in children’s toys, and the visit to the Toy Museum in Singapore exacerbated this. So I reproduce the pictures here for posterity – it’s kind of a lot, and maybe not very interesting, so feel free to skip; but it’s worth seeing at least a few, just to realise how things used to be.

Space-related toys (remember the 50s, 60s? Neither do I, but I can imagine the hoopla):

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Atom Boy:

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Tintin, Popeye:

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Batman:

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Some vintage posters:

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A wall of teddy bears:

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Walt Disney characters:

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Some miscellaneous toys – panda drinking tea, cars, and a newspaper from Dec 8, 1941, where the USA declared war on Japan (and just in case you’re wondering what this could possibly have to do with toys, I wouldn’t have a clue, and neither did I have any idea why they had another paper from the day Kennedy was shot):

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And finally, Tetsujin 28:

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Which was kind of awesome, because there is a “real” one in Kobe, Japan, which looks like this (notice the size):  IMG_6898

So the visit was excellent. There was more stuff there, but it’s probably already marginally disinteresting to the auspicious readers, so I’ll limit it there.

Afterwards, we went for a walk to Haji Lane. It is a place where most of the fashion shops in Singapore are, with a lot of up-and-coming designers, small independent boutiques, and otherwise interesting things. Here’s a few shots of Singapore on the way.

It was interesting, all along, to compare it to Hong Kong. Seeing as both are ex-British colonies, and both have a strong colonial influence, it was curious to see how much Hong Kong has remained Chinese, while Singapore has not, despite there being a tremendous amount of Chinese influence, writing, and people. Most fascinating.

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Singapore is a very clean city. Not as clean as Japan, but still amazing, considering the number of tourists and people who do NOT behave like locals (I posit that Japan is clean because there are so few tourists that there isn’t anyone to really dirty the place up, since the Japanese would never pollute). So this pile of garbage was highly unexpected… and another man was taking a picture of it. 🙂

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Some pretty buildings on the way…

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… and some colourful ones:

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Food? My favourite Japanese burger chain? Why, I would be mad to refuse.

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A few VW Sciroccos – probably my favourite VW, one we will never have in North America for some idiotic reason, and one I would consider buying ’cause it looks so pretty, even though it’s a VW. 🙂

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Haji Lane, and the neighbourhood. Incidentally, notice how green Singapore is. We, or at least I (perhaps, for lack of education, but still), had an image of something barren, concrete and anonymous. Turns out I was very, very wrong.

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Neat promotion at a shop:

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Wanted to steal this sign and put it in my driveway, but the owners were nearby.

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Superimposition of the old, rickety Haji Lane houses, and the modern skyscraper in the back.

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An apparently excellent Egyptian restaurant that we didn’t have time to visit. Next time.

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Yeah, the name works.

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More Singapore street shots. Little commentary, as they speak for themselves. Interesting angular building – it looks very two-dimensional.

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And of course, I stopped by an arcade. How could I not, right? 🙂 Interesting to note that Singaporean arcades seem to be far, far ahead of Japanese ones – blasphemy, one would think, but sadly true. Look at those music games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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So thus ended our day. Between the sad, nostalgic impression left by the toy museum, the heat and the fact that I lost my camera’s GPS tracker (and literally spent an hour retracing my steps trying to find it), as well as the overnight waking dream insanity, it was an eventful day that left us exhausted, but in a good way – we felt like we achieved something. So it was off to the hotel, and sleep. And I bolted that door shut like nobody’s business.