After four hours of waiting at the airport, the airline cancelled our flight to Vietnam. Another hour of trying to negotiate with overwhelmed airlines for an alternative flight leaves us hopeless. Time to call for a ride back home. Not flying anywhere on this day.
We strategize, rethink, and regroup. Everybody knows that travel requires flexibility, tenacity, and patience. After all, the word “travel” derives its roots from “travail” which means tortuous pain. Marilynn strategizes and works on new flights and visas, while I work on acquiring patience with rebooking those non-refundable foreign dwellings. This is one reason we usually purchase one-way tickets and only fly with carryon luggage. Voila! About two weeks later we sit on a seventeen-hour flight to Singapore, Singapore. There is more than one way to get to Vietnam.
We have avoided Singapore in the past because of all the rules and regulations, not to mention exorbitant costs. For instance, it is illegal to bring chewing gum into the country, and certain medications require written letters from your doctor, as well as special permission from the government. Not flushing a public toilet can catch you a $164 fine, and do not even think about dropping a piece of paper on the ground. The list goes on, and on. Of course, on the other hand, it could be the cleanest and safest country in the world, where everything from violent crime to petty theft appear nonexistent. Time to roam the streets and try to avoid arrest.
Crazy, unique, multicultural architecture abounds in this city of about five million people. From the modern downtown area to Little India and Chinatown, the confluence of various cultures is obvious.
Anxious to try the food, which promises the same diversity, we order a truffle oil infused mushroom pizza to accompany our $14USD craft beers. The pizza, not our favorite, despite the five star google reviews. Could not even eat the leftovers, which constitutes a mortal sin in certain circles.
“Coffee shops” promise much more typical traditional fare. After trying a bowl of noodles and fish soup, as well as chicken curry with rice, we wonder what we may be doing wrong. Of course, dining outside in sweltering heat may not help the culinary experience either. Time to call on family who live here, to guide us to Singapore’s better self.
Two members of our family teach at one of the international schools in Singapore. Thank goodness that we hook up with them for a lovely night of drink, laughter, and great food!
Craft beers start the flavor of the evening, and then we head downtown to a major Hawker area where vendors provide an endless array of exotic and tasty dishes.
Hawker Centers consists of rows of food stalls in an open-air complex, where regulations demand more sanitary conditions than mobile carts and food trucks. Thai chicken satay with peanut sauce could rank as our favorite meal in all of Singapore.
This huge, lively crowd fills up most every table. You can leave a packet of tissue on a table to reserve it, and folks will not sit there. Theft is so rare that even in such a large crowd, some people leave their cellphone or purse on the table to reserve it, while they go roam around the hawker stands to bring back food. Marilynn and I cannot imagine such trust, and have trouble wrapping our head around it. There are still good people in this world, in every country.
Oh, Dorian! The smelliest, stinky fruit on the planet. Hotels outlaw bringing it to your room, and signs in elevators plead with you to not bring it into the elevator. Of course, we try it, and the stranger sitting at the end of our table asks us to not set the fruit so close to her. At that point it was still in the box! The texture resembles a slimy mango with a rotten aftertaste that lingers. However, the nutritious value places this fruit above most superfoods.
Speaking of mortal sins, come to Hell with us. Yes, an artist’s rendition of Hell brings you through a display of different origins of religious philosophies, blended into their common theme of atonement for wrongdoing.
The sculptures and written explanations leave lasting impressions. “My first-grade teacher took our class through there,” our taxi driver says. “I couldn’t sleep for weeks, and I still think about it once in a while.” Many Singaporean parents bring their children to Hell in hopes of making them behave better.
Marilynn and I are going to hell for throwing away that left-over mushroom pizza. Oh well, see you there my friends!
After five days in Singapore, we now take a short flight to the Malaysian Island of Langkawi, where a relaxing time on the beach awaits exploration.