About Me

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I'm just a stressed-out-perfectionist-not-so-average-cupcake-making-graduate-student-from-Kansas trying to find my place in this world.
Current Adventure: Interning for the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Too Much To Do But Too Little Time in Singapore

Singapore is hands down my favorite country that I’ve ever been to, and it is definitely my favorite port on the voyage so far. Something about the way everything runs so smoothly and so quietly impresses me; everything is SO clean. I was never afraid to use a public restroom, eat from any restaurant, sit on any bus seat—it was amazing and a completely different world from the last few ports on the itinerary.

Singapore’s port worked a little different from every other one that I’ve been to so far. Immigration was after we got off the ship, so my friends and I were off by 9AM, the earliest we’ve ever been cleared for debarkation. The port terminal looks just like an American airport, complete with a food court, little shops, and drug dogs. Semester at Sea had organized a shuttle from the port to downtown Singapore, so for $6 we rode from the ship to Orchard Street, the places where everything is happening in Singapore. It is five kilometers of huge shopping malls and restaurants. The streets are clean and full of people eating ice cream sandwiches made by putting a scoop of ice cream on a piece of wonderbread. I didn’t actually try it, but it seemed like everyone had it. The Christmas decorations had just been put up along Orchard Street, and even though it was 90 degrees and humid, shop clerks were wearing Santa Claus hats and singing holiday music.

The shopping was so much fun—I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much Hello Kitty apparel in my life though. It was everywhere! For lunch, I had the best pad thai ever. I can’t even describe how amazing it was. At lunch, my friends and I sat next to Elvis, a 60-year old artist with a massive mohawk. He said it takes him almost two hours every morning to sculpt his hair! He wasn’t too keen on talking, but he gave us directions to a good place to get fun Asian hair accessories and good Bubble Tea. ☺

I had to be back to the harbor front by 3pm, because I was meeting a lady from Singapore who used to work for several different NGOs in Vietnam to talk about the project that I am doing for my Servant Leadership class. Most of my group was able to make it, and she had some very valuable information for us about cultural things to be aware of in Vietnam (like never use the term “human rights”), and she is going to make a few phone calls for us. I’m still nervous about our project, since we really don’t have one yet and we’ll be to Vietnam tomorrow…but hopefully it will all turn out okay. We’ve been working on it since the beginning of the voyage, but contact after contact either turned us away, stopped responding to our emails, never answered, or gave us a project and then decided they didn’t want us coming. It’s really hard because unless we are registered with the government of Vietnam, we won’t be allowed to do any manual labor for any organization, so we have to stick to other forms of service. Mai, the lady we met with, says it will be fine and that the Vietnamese NGOs just don’t really use email, so really we should just show up somewhere and ask to help, and more than likely, they will let us. But I’ll let you know how that goes after Vietnam.

My friends and I then got really dressed up and headed to the Singapore Flyer, the tallest ferris wheel in the world for dinner. The food was delicious. We had salad, shrimp with a mango sauce, some sort of chicken, some sort of lamb, delicious vegetables, and then a cream cake with raspberries for dessert. But the view was what was really incredible; from the very top, we could see the lights of Malaysia to the north and the lights of Indonesia to the south. After dinner, I went with a life long learner, Pat, to the top of the Marina Bay Sands Resort—the tallest building in Singapore. On top of the hotel, there is a restaurant, casino, and an infinity swimming pool. We had to sneak our way to the top, though, because we weren’t hotel guests, but we really wanted to see the pool. It was worth it too—the pool really did look like it was falling off the side of the hotel.

The next morning, Mackenzie, Carren, and I took a taxi over to Sentosa Island to go up inside the Merlion. The merlion is Singapore’s official emblem—a cross between a mermaid and a lion. It wasn’t really cultural at all, but we climbed to the top (15 stories) and we were able to see all of Singapore up there. We spent some time walking around the island before heading back to the port to do a little bit of uploading pictures to Facebook, and then suddenly it was on-ship time and we had to leave.

We definitely did not have enough time in Singapore. I feel like I barely scratched the surface of it (as I feel in every country), but I enjoyed it so much. I enjoyed just being able to relax and not having to worry about whether I would get sick from the food or get malaria from the mosquitoes or worry about the street children. It was just a really fun place to visit and get recharged for the rest of the trip through Asia.

This day in between Singapore and Vietnam was a reading day, so we didn’t have class. I seriously slept for more than 20 hours, only waking up once for about 30 minutes to eat a little something. I had no idea how tired my body actually was. In a few hours, we’ll be entering the Mekong River and traveling up to Ho Chi Minh City; I’m going to get up by four, because apparently, we’ll be seeing little fishing villages on either side of the river as the sun rises and we come into the city.  I’m excited for the next week in Vietnam and to get outside my comfort zone once again. ☺

1 comment:

  1. Finally, a blogpost that is easy to read without crying!! It sounded like a lot of fun. And we finally saw photo's of your hair cut and you look wonderful. Everyone looked relaxed and happy!! Glad you caught up on some sleep!
    Love Mom