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Singapore: The Acclimation

March 26, 2008 —

After arriving in Singapore quite late and subsequently getting little sleep, the next two days can best be described as me acclimating to Singapore, in more ways than one. Not only is there a 15 hour time difference (midnight in Santa Barbara is 3pm in Singapore), but there is also a hotter and more humid environment, better food, friendly people and more.

So to begin my first day in Singapore, I proceeded to get a cab to the office I would be working at. I had no idea where this office was located; all I knew was the address and the name, "The Comtech Building". I gave both of these pieces of information, along with the name of the company I was visiting, and got a ride to 438 Alexandra Rd. This was indeed the location of the company I was visiting (there was a big sign for them), but was not the right address. The address I had been given was 60 Alexandra Terrace. The cab driver went inside and asked, then came out declaring this the right place. So I gathered my heavy books and left the cab, which quickly drove off. I asked the attendant inside where to go, and he told me I had the wrong building. So I doubt the cab driver asked him anything. Luckily, the other building wasn't too far away, which gave me my first chance to walk in the nice Singapore heat and humidity. By the time I reached the right building, carrying my heavy books, I was sweating tremendously. The fact that all buildings are heavily air conditioned sure helped. After kind of cooling off, I proceeded to the right lobby and got checked in, feeling very unclean the rest of the day. The day went smoothly enough, with me coming close to falling asleep during one of the exercises from sheer exhaustion.

Lunch gave me my first taste of food in Singapore, a sea food soup with 'Mee' (noodles). It was quite good and I impressed the people in my class with my willingness to eat outside of the usual "American" stereotype foods such as McDonalds and KFC. I would proceed to eat lunch for the next 4 work days in the building's cafeteria, called BUrP (which is short for something that I've no idea).

That night, I had big plans to explore the area around my hotel, however, after getting there at 7pm, I fell asleep pretty quickly, fully clothed. I woke up later around midnight and fell asleep again until about 5:30am, but feeling refreshed.

Thursday, my second day in Singapore, was much less eventful. I ate an extremely expensive breakfast at the hotel (~S$30 == ~US$21), which was not worth it, and would be my last meal at the hotel. I was able to get a cab to the right location this time and arrived feeling better than the day before, in terms of cleanliness and wakefulness.

This day I had chicken rice, a dish Singapore is known for. The basic premise is to take a chicken, boil it whole, and then immediately sink it in ice water. This causes the chicken to solidify a bit and the skin to come off easily. Then, using the water the chicken is boiled in, they make rice, creating very flavorful rice that they stick chicken on top of. One can add a sort of condensed and sweetened soy sauce as well that makes for a delicious meal.

The evening was spent wandering around Orchard road, where my hotel was at, partly to see the sights, and partly to just keep myself awake longer to continue the acclimation. Something that seemed readily apparent how much consumption seems to go on in Singapore. For several miles it seemed that the streets were just lined with huge shopping malls full of (I'm guessing) designer brands. And people were still packing into stores at 10:30pm. Granted, the next day was a holiday, but there still seemed to be a ton of people.

During my stroll, I began to notice how clean Singapore is. Singapore seemed much cleaner than many places even in the US. In addition, there are tons of McDonalds. But even more so, there are more 7-Eleven's than I have ever seen. Big and small 7-Elevens are everywhere. I makes me a bit sad to see them everywhere as they become the thing that we export to other countries, and become a symbol with which American's are associated with.

By Chris Streeter

Tagged: travel