After you experience food poisoning, there is a stretch of time that you lose all sense of logic and reason. Blame it on dehydration, but at the time booking plane tickets for a two-hour flight to Singapore, in order to avoid a four-hour ferry ride to Phuket seemed perfectly reasonable. This is especially true if you are someone who was born to have feet on land and land only (even with fistfuls of Dramamine and an arm full of pressure point sea-bands), where any crossing that does not require an open sea is particularly enticing. And so began a very long day that had us on just about every form of transportation available to mankind…starting with an early morning tuk-tuk, followed by an overpacked minivan, then said minivan on a ferry-boat (15 minutes across the channel), a plane, a bus, and finally ending with a train. After a full eight hours of transport, I’m still pretty convinced that it was an upgrade.
Oh, but the destination point was Singapore! A modern metropolis in all respects and after two and a half months in the netherparts of South East Asia, even more of a spectacular vision of utopia. The streets are immaculately clean (as in if you were to drop a piece of sushi on the ground, you could pick it up and eat it-well past the 5 second rule-and no we did not attempt this),the public transportation is easy and efficient (attention MTA, you should be embarrassed), and above all else, the Singaporean’s are diverse, engaging, and incredibly helpful (if you look lost or unsure of your way, at least three people will fall over themselves to assist) (note to self: good karma to repay, no longer growl at tourists in the way on the streets of NYC, or at least try not to, for a week).
Arriving in the few days before the start of Chinese New Year, the city was decked out in red and gold (including giant inflatable roosters everywhere) and by chance we stumbled upon a number of colorful rehearsal parades (with funky floats and neon inflected dance routines). It all felt a little bit magical.
In a weekend we managed to pack in a trip to the famous Singapore Zoo (amazing!), a walk around the orchid gardens , replaced the infamous green tea toothpaste with actual mint, and indulged in some very overpriced but needed western / hipster food. One cannot underestimate the spiritual impact that cloth napkins, a couple of taco’s, and a few budget busting margaritas can have after a 75 day diet of street noodles and rice.
And I’ll spare you a few paragraphs on the joy of simply running a toothbrush under the sink tap instead of a bottle of water (which incidentally never has enough water left in it to do the job properly).
Leaving with a little more bounce in the step than we had on arrival (and a much lighter wallet), onwards we go for the next leg of our journey…Cambodia.