I am sitting in a private taxi with a mouse and a screen for selecting songs. I pick a Pearl Jam song and come to the realization that it is hot and humid in Singapore. It’s been minutes since I stepped foot in the country.
I am through being cool. I’ve been carrying around a 64gb iPod touch from 2009. It’s now 2017 and it is a time a capsule of my life in 2009. I was cool then. I lived dangerously and treaded the line often. I would sometimes cross it and for the most part, if not all the time, escape the consequences of my actions. That was until 2012 came around. That year, I would pay dearly for all the years of karmic debt I never bothered to pay back. Fast forward to 2017, I am traveling in Singapore. My karmic debt is paid and I would say I am at the top of my game. I travel, I photograph stuff on film, I live in Japan, and I could not ask for more. I wear what I want to wear. I mostly wear black skinny jeans and black t-shirts. I am responsible for things, but I mostly, if not at all, do not give a fuck about people. I listen to outdated Emo music and Classic Rock. Although, I am beginning to think that the Foo Fighters and Nirvana could possibly be considered Classics now. I digress.
Living out of hotels is complicated. Making staff feel like they are not second class citizens is a pleasure of mine. I often go out my way to ask about their lives and compliment hospitality. If you travel, please do this. It really goes a long way for both parties involved.
The Holiday Inn is reflective of the Clarke Bay area in Singapore. It’s a place to sleep and do no more. Breakfast is complimentary and there’s a great pool on the roof. There is also a gym if you feel the need to exercise while traveling.
Just outside the Holiday Inn, you can almost immediately encounter a temple if you walk out the main entrance and make a left.
My first night in Singapore, I ended up in Chinatown. Half of me wants to recommend it, but the other half says, “STAY AWAY AND RUN LIKE HELL” from the place. Although mildly enchanting, it is like any other Chinatown you’ve been to. The only one I dare recommend is the Malaysian, Kuala Lumpur, Chinatown. I would still caution against it though. Nevertheless, Chinatown in Singapore treated me to the sight of Durian fruit, temples, fine eateries, and secret bars. My hesitation with recommending the place is because if you’re a tourist you will indeed only see the surface of Chinatown. You must do research and ditch it once you come in contact with the locals. Eat where the employees eat versus whatever shitty trip advisory site you use to plan your travels.
Singapore is air conditioned really, really well. The moment you step outside, however, the country blankets you with warmth. You cannot completely avoid the heat, but you can avoid it for the most part. Taking cheap taxis or using the wonderful train system can help you with this.
My friend’s wife lives in Singapore. She, out of the kindness of her heart, offered to show me around Singapore. We met up at East Coast Lagoon which is a bit out of the city. There you can witness a multitude of ships, like an armada preparing to invade, while kids stomp sand castles. There we had Satay, Sting Ray(that one was for you Steve Irwin), and Chili Crab. All this was being served at a hawker center, which is a bunch of street vendors located in stalls. Picture a food court minus Sbarro’s and other crappy derivatives of American Chinese fast food.
Hindsight is 20/20 and I should have chosen wisely when my friend’s wife asked what we wanted to do next. Something really was urging me to see the surfboard hotel. In retrospect, it was something I could have lived without, but memorable nonetheless. The view was priceless, but it did cost 25 Singaporean dollars. And I got a nosebleed photo of the infamous infinity pool. Not really my thing, but it was there and I was there and it just happened.
After the tragedy of the surfboard hotel, we made our way to eat Durian fruit. She said it would be delicious. I had trusted her options up to this point. Before I get into my experience with Durian fruit for my first time, I found an interesting fact. Durian fruit is banned from being transported in public vehicles and public transportation. You can actually be fined if found with Durian fruit while in any one of those settings. Now on to my experience with the odd fruit. For starters, its fruit is encased in a spiky shell. Once you penetrate the shell the fruit is in individual sacks. Then the smell hits you and it is strong. The smell is uncanny and you will know it. The texture is slimy and custard like. The taste is like a sweet and sour custard, kind of like sweetened condensed milk that has gone sour. Something I could only imagine, but now have tasted through the Durian fruit. Now, ask me if I would eat it again? No, but if it was around I would not reject it.
I later met up with a Singaporean friend that I met in Tokyo and some friends of mine that I was traveling with.
There is a lot of juxtaposition in Singapore. There are remnants of British colonial era houses nestled in between buildings dedicated to just UNIQLO. It’s almost futuristic and gas punk like in a sense. I have nothing against UNIQLO because I buy a lot of my clothes there. In this particular UNIQLO, I encountered Ruben, a silkscreen artist who runs the Monster Gallery in Singapore. He was making silkscreen tees for 5 Singaporean dollars. You basically bought a blank tee from UNIQLO and he would make it. I bought two because I could not resist the awesomeness of the experience. He made one and his protege made the other.
People gawked, but nobody was lining up to get one. I was baffled by this because this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I bet if Taylor Swift made popsicles out of her own shit there would be miles of idiots lined up to pay top dollar. I digress. The world is cruel and I am but one person in a sea of zombies trying to find a cure for the affliction.
That afternoon, I had Chicken Rice. Which is definitely a meal worth partaking while in Singapore. I could not have asked for a better cash for value meal in Singapore.
And lastly, don’t do photo shoots in the middle of the street. tsk tsk.
I leave you with miscellaneous shots. All shot on 35mm film.
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