Reunion With
My Sister in
January 21, 2008

I arrived in Singapore airport pretty late last night. But being the sometimes cheapskate that I am, I decided to pull an all-nighter at the airport
since my sister wasn’t arriving until early this afternoon. Why pay for a night of a hotel by myself if I don’t have to? Especially when this would give
me a free pass to spend hours in one of the best airports in the world!

There is a Smorgasbord of things a person can do in Singapore’s Changi Airport. Even in the wee hours of the night since mostly everything stay
open 24-hours. There are loads of cafes to choose from (The Coffee Bean amongst several others), the bookstores with just as many English titles as
those in SFO and JFK – also with some excellent travel books to peruse through and the all-too-fun electronics stores. And then there are the
different large televisions that are spread out all with nice cushy chairs in front. I opted for a couple hours of CNN first. Then I moved a few hundred
yards away to find one airing Star World. When I got a little ‘television-ed out’, I went to one of the dozens and dozens of free internet terminals that
they have handy. I took a nap in one of the transit lounges. Went to a few more stores. Watched a bit more television. And then it was time to grab a
smoothie because it was now morning. I could now go through immigration, pick up my luggage and hop on the MRT to my hotel in Chinatown. The
hope was that they would give me access to a room at the early hour of 8:00am so I could catch a few zzz’s.

And they did…without my even needing to ask. Who knows…maybe I just look that bad.

I got awaken by a phone call. It was Michelle and she was in the lobby. It was already 12:45pm. Time sure does fly when you’re making up for the
sleep that you lacked the night before.

It’s funny that I hadn’t seen Michelle in 5½ months because it felt like it had only been weeks. Anyway, it was time for her to see Singapore.

Within minutes I was up and we were fueling up by eating dim sum in Chinatown. But first we passed a Hindu temple where there were loads of
Indians congregating – Michelle reminded me that there is some big Hindu festival taking place in a couple days and that is probably what the
festivities are for. And then there were all of the shops and streets throughout Chinatown gearing up for the Chinese New Year. Already, I was
enjoying Singapore much more this time around. I was experiencing so much more character and culture – still in an ‘Epcot Center’ type of way – by
character and culture, nonetheless.

Oh. Now here is something quite ironic. I have always compared Singapore to Disneyworld. Always. It is like an Asian version of Epcot Center where
China, the Middle East and India are very beautifully and hygienically represented. Now here is the funny part. What did I see today decorating all of
the streets? Little Mickey-ears dangling from all of the trees! It’s totally bizarre since it’s not like it’s an advertisement for a nearby Disneyland (as
there are none around here). I guess Mickey and Co. are the sponsors of Chinese New Year? In any case, isn’t it funny that this is going along just too
perfectly with my opinion of Singapore?

The rest of our day consisted of wandering around Orchard Road and stopping into a few stores, visiting the Botanical Gardens. Maybe it’s just
because I’m not a huge tree buff – but I can yet again say that I am not blown away by places like this. I would expect flowers but there really aren’t
any. Just a whole lot of trees.

We spent the night in our ‘hood of Chinatown. This is probably the
one Chinatown in the world that I really enjoy. It’s quite charming and beautiful.
Must be the Disney-esque nature of it. But whatever. I find that I’m quite a sucker for lit red lanterns.

January 22, 2008

We got quite a treat this morning. It happened when we decided we would start off our day in Little India and move around from there.

Michelle reminded me of the Hindu holiday that she is excited for in Penang, Malaysia tomorrow and that they also celebrate it in Singapore. It’s
called Thaipusam. I don’t know the details (I still need to read about it in Lonely Planet) – but from the looks of things, piercing/stabbing-sharp-
objects-through one’s body is a big part of it. It hurt to look at some of these people. Oh. Many of these guys also had limes dangling from their
piercings. Need to find out what those limes are about, too, I guess.  We watched for a while and then decided that we would wait to see more once
we get to Penang tomorrow.

We walked out to the Arab Quarter where Michelle got to see the Epcot version of the Middle East. Singapore is
truly an Asian Epcot Center.

Our mini-walking tour also took us to the Raffles hotel where I showed Michelle where we will be slinging back those Singapore Slings at the Long
Bar when we come back to Singapore next week.

Thankfully we reserved a good amount of time to get to the cheapie airport just outside of Singapore. It entailed taking two different lines on the
MRT, three different bus rides and one coach ride. But we are now here. Ahhh. And I am just going to relax for the next couple hours with my mocha
latte from The Coffee Bean…
Back to Singapore.
In Little India.
Having fun playing with the Chinese New Year
Mickey Mouse.
Inside a Chinese temple.