Friday, September 2, 2011

My 31st birthday in Singapore

On Sunday, August 28, 2011 I flew down to Singapore from Malaysia. They only have one flight and not even a flight every day. I didn't want to fly on my birthday but it was ok. I got to Singapore and checked into my hotel the Bayview. It was a nice hotel. Not super nice and expensive but not a dump either. After I got checked in I got a cab and went to China town so I could get myself a mahjong set. I didn't really grow up playing games because my parents worked a lot and my brother and I with 6 years between us and very different personalities didn't really get along enough to play with each other. I did play Phase 10 when my grandparents came. I also played some card games in college but after college I didn't know anyone would did like game night and I could never remember the rules to the games. Living here though there is a group of ex-pat women that meet on Thursday afternoons to play mahjong. Last year they also met a couple times in the evening. I played a couple times in the evening last spring, but didn't really get into until I had my summer break from school and could go on Thursday afternoons. I decided I really like mahjong and hope that I can take it back to the states with me and have people I can find to play.
So, anyway I went to Chinatown and bought myself a mahjong set and the nice racks from the place that was recommended to me. Then I went back to my hotel and had something to eat. I just had a cheeseburger at the hotel restaurant. Then I went back to my room and got ready to go to musical "The Lion King".  I got a cab and went to the Marina Bay Sands theater. I was early so I wandered around and looked at the shops that they had. Then I went outside and took pictures of the buildings across the water and the Singapore Flyer, etc. It looked pretty with all the lights. Then I went back in to actually find the theater. I walked back and forth following the signs but couldn't see it. I couldn't understand where it was supposed to be. Finally I decided to go down a level and there it was. I had been walking back and forth right above it but the signs never mention I had to go down a level to get there. When I bought my ticket I spent the extra money to be in the front section. I let the machine pick the best seat available. I was in the front row on the left side of the theater. I was right at the bottom of the steps which was awesome when they had the characters coming on and off the stage. It was very close to the cartoon. The voices even sounded alike. It was amazing how they did the costumes and the singing was great. I bought a program so I could have pictures. They all did an amazing job. Even the young kids that played young Simba and young Nala. After it was over the shops were all closed so I went out to get a taxi. The line was long and I had to wait a long time for a cab. When I got back I went to bed because it was late and I wanted to do things the next day and not sleep the whole time.
I slept hard and did not wake up very early on the 29th. It was cloudy when I woke up and then it started pouring rain. First, I went down to the area where the Asian Civilisations Museum is located. On the way there the cab driver talked me into going to the Jewelry City where they were having a huge sale with up to 70% off items. The jewelry was nothing spectacular. Some of it, was hard to know if they were being honest about the quality. The cab driver was surprised I didn't come out with several things. I told him that I had not brought much money with me since I was only planning on going to the museum and I might go back. Which was true but I also didn't think he needed to know whether or not I had bought something even if I would have bought something. Wonder if he gets a commission if he brings people there and they buy something or he just really thought I would like the place. I walked around some and took some pictures. Then I went to Indochine for lunch. I was the only person there. I had rack of lamb for lunch and then this spicy chocolate for dessert. It was like a small cake with chilli sauce that I dipped it in to have the spicy and sweet. I like the Lindts chilli dark chocolate bars that I can get here, but the dessert was even better. It amazes me that with how people in Malaysia but chilli on almost everything that they don't like it with their chocolate.
Anyway, after that I went to the Museum. It is huge and I saw lots of exhibits. I saw the Singapore River, Southeast Asia, West Asia/Islamic, China, and south Asia galleries. Then they had a special exhibit of some of the Terracotta Warrior statues from The First Emperor of China.  On the way into that gallery is an exhibit called Life After Death by Justin Lee where he has these maidens that look like the Terracotta warriors but they have modern technology with them. It was an awesome exhibit. I wish I could see the whole army of statues. I bought a book on the First Emperor and this army to read. I was at the museum for several hours because there was so much to look at. Then I went to Little India. I did a quick walk through, but did not see much that interested me, although, I could have not been looking in the right places. The cab driver told me to be careful and then drop me off at the edge of the area. So maybe I didn't get in far enough. There was one complex that I went to that had lots of beautiful clothes, but I would have no place to wear any of them and most look like it wouldn't fit me. I also was the only one like me and stuck out so everyone was watching me. It was starting to rain though, so I decided even with an umbrella that I didn't want to get stuck there and no cab to pick me up. I did find a taxi stand and got a cab eventually. After that I walked from my hotel to Trattoria Lafindra, Italian, for dinner. I had spaghetti carbonara. Even though they had good looking desserts, I decided on my walk back to my hotel room that I wanted to stop at Wendy's and get a chocolate frosty.
I never did figure out the MRT or bus system, but when I was walking to the restaurant I spotted other places I want to go, so on Tuesday the 30th I decided to walk around. First, I walked down to Chijmes. It was a covent, but now has shops and restaurants. It has a door of Hope in the front wall that is where people used to abandon their babies that the nuns took in. I took pictures of the chapel which has been remodeled and is empty but they say it can be used for weddings. Behind that in the other buildings there is tons and tons of restaurants of all sorts. There was one small shop and most of the restaurants didn't appear to be open for lunch. I went to the Hog's Breath Cafe for lunch. I had buffalo wings with blue cheese ( have missed those) and a chicken Caesar wrap. Across from Chijmes is another historical building the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd that they are doing repair work on. Anyway I walked down the Bras Basah road almost to the Marina Bay Center. I went into Suntec City Mall. I didn't know what it was at first. It was pretty big and I didn't want to do any shopping but I decided to see if there was a movie theater. I went and watched "Bad Teacher". I thought it was a good movie. Then after that I walked back to the Singapore Art museum.  They had a Chinese artist, but none of his art grabbed me. He had oil, water color, stencil, etc. It didn't look any different than some of the other more famous artists that I have seen. There were portraits, still life, scenery, nudes, etc. Nothing that I could see that really made him stand out. After I finished there then I went to Via Mar a Spanish restaurant that has tappas. I had a sizzling spicy shrimp dish and a Charizo sausage  tappas dish. After that I wandered around and looked at some more historical buildings. Most places were closed by then. The Singapore Art museum was going to have some light show but it started raining again, so I decided I didn't want to stand in the rain to watch it. I went back to my hotel room to pack and get ready to leave the next morning.
I bought a book on 100 Historical places in Singapore. There are so many more that I want to see. It was hard to tell with the maps what I could and couldn't walk to, so next time I know I could do more walking to places. Singapore is very clean. There are lots of people but it doesn't feel like it. The traffic is civilized and there are sidewalks and cross walks, so that I do feel comfortable walking places and not worrying about getting run over. There was also never any traffic jams, so I didn't spend tons of time in cabs stuck in traffic trying to get some place. When I went some place it was always quick.  Everyone tells me how expensive Singapore is, but I didn't find it to be so. The costs are about what they would be in the US. I thought everything was reasonable.  Even when I said I was going to get a mahjong set there I was discouraged because it was so expensive. I didn't care because it was my birthday. But when I saw the cost I just laughed. We all have different things that we choose to spend our money on. I don't chose to spend my money the same as other people and I don't get jealous of them, but lots of times they get jealous of me. I know people that would spend way more on alcohol or food than it cost to buy that mahjong set. I like good food and I don't mind spending some money on it as long as it is very excellent. I don't spend tons of money on alcohol though. Food and alcohol don't last as long as a mahjong set. I know that some people will be jealous that I bought a mahjong set and the nice racks, but I won't be jealous of them when they spend more than that on alcohol. If they want to spend the same amount of money I spent on my mahjong set and get drunk for an evening that is up to them. I will be playing with my mahjong set when I am an old lady, so the money I spent on it for me is a much better investment. Even with the hotels I thought the price was fine for what I got. I certainly wouldn't want to stay in a dump and don't need a ten star one million dollar a night hotel either. I mean I know that it takes lots of Malaysian Ringitt for not much Singapore dollar, but when I converted back at the end I got lots of Ringitt back. I know that many people told me that they don't like Singapore but I liked it tons and want to go back. I know that people say it is very strict if one lives there, but I follow the laws anyway wherever I live, so I it didn't seem strict to me. Maybe if I lived there for a long time I would think differently, but I read a some of the laws and nothing seemed outrageous.