I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

put 18.65 singapore dollars in a currency converter

Got up last Friday morning and wasn't hungover. This was quite surprising really. In most places I expected to feel rough in the morning through dehydration anyway, either because the aircon had been on all night and dried me out, or the aircon had been off all night and I'd been boiling. But no, I felt fine, bonus.

A cab was booked to take me back to the airport at 1pm but I was up pretty early, about 8am, so I went for a swim for the 3rd morning running. Another 20 lengths. I must be mental. Back in the room I slacked for a bit then packed up and checked out, leaving my bags with the concierge so I could go out and explore. Not that I wanted to venture far, since I didn't have masses of time nor the desire to leave the safety of air-conditioning. I just went into the Bugis mall, connected to the hotel and full of shops and places to eat. Good job too, 'cos I was hungry. I looked around the shops, thought about buying a wallet, asked the Sony shop if they had any 1GB m2 memory sticks (they didn't; in fact not a single shop I've been in on my entire trip so far has had any, and it's the only bit of electronics I've wanted) and then ate.

First on the menu was some octopus balls, with mayonnaise. Fucking hell octopus is nice. I asked my bro if it they're endangered so I could work out whether it was a gulty pleasure, apparently they're not though. Yet. Finished those and went to a different place for some ice cream on toast.

You heard.

The place I got this from only sold toast-based meals. Big on bread, the Singaporeans. Bloody nice it was, but that might be in the main because I'm a big fan of ice-cream and a big fan of toast. Anyway after finishing that I still had an hour to kill and a few Singapore dollars in me pocket, so I figured I'd have a pint. Bought it in the bar attached to the hotel. It wasn't cheap.

The ride to the airport was annoying. The driver rabbited on non-stop about how poor he was, how little money he made from driving for the hotel, how I must be rich to stay there, how regular cabbies made more than his limo-driving-for-Intercontinental job, how he'd been driving for years and years and was never going to have enough money to visit a foriegn country, etc etc. It may have been all true, but the way he said it, the way he looked at me in the mirror, I just didn't believe or trust him at all. It felt like a total scam. Tipping is frowned upon in Singapore, even banned in some places, yet he'd explicitly said how the only thing that makes his job worthwhile is the occasional tip he gets from western visitors. Sorry mate, fuck that, my money's going to Unicef.

Mind you I should write to Unicef. Change For Good is all well and, err, good, but I want to expand the slogan and start Climate Change For Good. The sooner bits of the world become a sensible temperature rather than ridiculously hot the better. Now we can manufacture an ice-age, or go Total Recall-style, entire world being airconned, either way is good for me, but certain places just need to stop being so fucking hot. Then maybe I'll go back and visit Singapore.

Actually I don't think I will anyway. If you're interested in having a low crime rate I think they've got the right idea. Massive sentences for drug use (eg, death) and other supposedly outrageous sentences for minor infractions (chewing gum, not flushing a public toilet, etc) seem to be a good way to stop people doing those things. I've never really thought harsh penalties are that effective a deterrent for yer major crimes like murder, fraud, etc, because the people committing those tend to either meticulously plan it and honestly/arrogantly believe they'll not get caught (which makes the sentence irrelevant), or do it in the heat of the moment (where the consequences are far from their thoughts). But for other stuff people will just go, OK, not worth the risk of having a joint if they're going to kill me, and hey presto, no drug use. Not flush the toilet and be fined $150? OK, I'll flush. But possibly related to all of this is that I found Singapore too sterile, too clean, too nice. No edginess to the place, no shady neighbourhoods, no ... soul? I dunno. Also I found most of the people I met (bar staff, cab drivers, shop assistants) to be miserable fucks. Perhaps that's because alcohol costs so much. Either way, I won't be back in a hurry.

Don't mind changing planes there though, or waiting for one. I went to the Cathay Pacific lounge after checking in and got them to reprint my boarding passes -- Cathay really don't like shoving my BA number in my bookings, sigh -- and then sat there for a bit eating and drinking. After a while I thought, hold up, this place is shit. Because it is. The Skyview lounge is tiny and shared by about 15 airlines (as well as Priority Pass, a pay-for-lounge-access card you can get) and was getting crowded. Thankfully both ticket and BA membership meant I could go use the far bigger and better shared Qantas/BA lounge, and because there were no imminent flights for either airline it was fucking empty.

One beer later and it was time to go board me flight. Can't remember what the entertainment or food was, much the same as the previous flight I suppose. Not sure why I didn't take any notes but I suspect it's because I was a bit pissed.

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