Day 60: Singapore

Trouble in paradise. I haven’t had a drop of booze since 1584 and my body took to it like a chalice of spicy venom. Needless to say I spent the night seeing curry splashing around Nigel’s marble bathroom.

I woke up without a hangover. Strange.

I went to Singapore yesterday. I had a date with some old friends.

Tristan and Clarissa lived in Sweden with me for 5 months back in 2009. This was the first time I’d seem them since.

Our worlds couldn’t have changed more. While I’m errantly drifting around the world with less responsibilities than a tiger on a drip, Tristan and Clarissa are are ambitiously slogging it in the world of business. They both have full time jobs in finance and have somehow managed to maintain some entrepreneurial side projects in their ridiculously time compressed lives. They don’t sleep – the work is infinite. Both of them said this is simply the Singaporean condition. But, to my great flattery and joy, they sacrificed their sleep and gave me their time to show me the sights and tastes of Singapore.

All the street food in Singapore has been controlled and regulated by the government. Street stalls are rare here – most of the hawker foods can be found in big government run centres – huge hospital lit food courts lined with hawkers flash frying noodles, steaming crabs and churning sugar cane. My first taste of Singapore was in one of the most famous centres.

I’ve never coped well with choice. I’m too fastidious in the pursuit of the best. The longer the menu or the more stalls the harder that pursuit is. My dream is for all restaurants to serve one thing – no confusion and guaranteed excellence

Here the only question was about the level of spice I could handle. After that our table was flooded, plates coming thick and fast like merchant ships carrying colourful and exotic cargo, each one competing for attention and harbour space. We ate like kings.

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For details see food diary.

I got a tour of the city. Tristan’s a great guide. He knows heaps of random facts and delivers them like a loving father.

When I arrived in Singapore I came with the ignorant idea that Singapore only consisted of urban metropolis – an endless line of grey and neon. I thought trees, grass, space and anything remotely natural would be sparse and overseen by some bigger bleary monster. I was very wrong.

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Singapore has a lot of beautiful green spaces. My favourite of which (from the little I’ve seen) is Gardens by the Bay. It was completely empty when we were there. I would be a scary place on your own but with old friends it was peaceful and strangely romantic. We spent most of the time in the gardens reminiscing about our lives Sweden.

Tristan used to come over to my house in the afternoon. I would have laid a sheet over a table, under which were all the pillows and soft objects my room could muster. We would close the blinds, turn out the lights and put our heads in the dome under the table, our legs sticking out like the unemotionally obtrusive ends of a cadaver. We would take it in turns to choose some soft and usually trippy music – Ole by Coltrane was my favourite – and after each song we would talk about what we imagined.

It was strange revisiting this memory with Tristan and Clarissa whose lives seem to stand as a laughing example of the antithesis of our dream-dome. For a moment I wanted to be back in the room under the table dreaming with my friends.

I fly out of Kuala Kumpur for South Korea tonight at one am tonight. I only spent one night in Singapore. I regret not planning my trip so I could have more time. I feel like my brevity has in a way dishonoured two friendships I really value and miss.

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