…so the rain had stopped by the time we’d reached the hotel and yes, it is a green city – lots of trees, lots of parks and the cabbie did well in the traffic and so we are settled into the hotel. The room is huge – they said Superior, I should say so too! The a/c is perfect and so my tale continues…
It’s always an unusual and exciting moment when you arrive in a in a country for the first time. No clear idea of what to expect…Stranger in a Strange Land… trying not to get it wrong, no cultural faux pas, no socio-political gaffes, play by the rules (not that anyone told you what they are)) and hope you get it right…
Starting with: To tip or not to tip, for that is the question – now in the States we all know it’s 16-20% because hospitality workers are exploited by living in the land of the free where paying them a living wage and losing profits would thus undermine “The American Dream” to such an extent that people would lose the will to succeed or make something of themselves and so be wrapped in Totalitarian Cotton Wool and end up by losing all their freedoms (like the one to die on a hospital trolley without insurance) and the next thing you know The People are under the jackboot of a Socialist Welfare-based Polite Society like France, Denmark, Spain…oh, you know, all those Dictatorships/Cruel Harsh Constitutional Monarchies “over here” in Europe.
Anyway, turns out you can happily tip the porter /bell-hop/concierge etc but most hotels/restaurants add a service charge to their bills so no general tipping – even the cabbies look at you as if you are mad when you say “keep the change”.
But where was I…oh yes! A Stranger in a Strange Land – a hot humid, sticky ohmigod is that rain or did someone cut the sky’s throat???!! Rain? Mini-monsoon!! And hot? HOT!!! Turns out the rain adds to the humidity so much it actually gets hotter. So, arrived to the torrential down P and dressed 3 continents wrong for the heat! Cool? No sir! Hot and Sticky, sir! Sweating like a PIG sir, and yes, shut up! I know pigs don’t sweat; it’s an expression, like Hello!! I’m the Grammar Nazi, around here; get your own annoying quirk.
So it’s mid-afternoon and we had not long had breakfast at ohmigod it’s early o’clock and then the time zone cut in…so we go for a walk, sweaty, nasty walk past a quidzillion gigantamous shopping malls that hold zero attraction and grab a cab to go down to the riverside get a little atmosphere, get a little ripped off, get a little confused about how Singapore law allows for only a percentage and/or meterage of the bar/restaurant terrace to be the smoking area despite being equally outdoors. You can’t just walk down the street smoking like a cheap skanky Fish Wife, Sailor’s Trollop or ordinary human being, oh no! You must go and sit on the Naughty Bench or stand next to the Naughty Bin at the pavements edge, every 150 meters – regularly enough to make a spectacle out of these socially castigated pariahs (like Moi!)
So, yes, well of course it starts to rain again, it’s 8 pm and I’m exhausted and fed up with catch-the-tourist, in which I am the mouse and I want to sleep because my body says it’s siesta time and has mistaken the “welcome to your holiday” beer, as lunch… we give up on the high (mark-up) street and cross the river on my hunch..sho’nuff, the food cheaper, the places alive and kickin’ and it is a task just to find a table to dine at…net result: our first meal in Asia is Mexican! ¡Ay Chihuahua!
Troggling off home to bed – early night, we are dropping fast- in a cab that is faster driven by a young steroid addict who is certain that the Grand Prix has already started and that he is on Pole…oh myyy!!
TBH…too keen to get into the giant bed in the giant air-conditioned room with the luxurious bath and shower bathroom with free wifi, to tell Mr Alonso to slow down and instead just grip tightly to the handle above the door and whispering to my Nordic/Celtic ancestors that anything they had to offer right there and then would be good…
Crashed out safely in bed… until 3:30 a.m… – wide awake and starving hungry and hating jet –lag, hoping that tomorrow brings something a little more like the holiday good times ‘cause up to now it’s: Singapore? Yah! Not so much!
See ya tomorrow – thank goodness for the a/c!!