Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sleepless in Singapore

Amanda and I were happy to find out the sunrise was at 7:15, so we were able to get a somewhat good night of sleep. The night before we docked, we were all hyped to see another country, so we finally got around to getting to sleep around 1. I spent most of the night trying to get work done that was due after port because even though I like to forget, I am here for school.

After sunrise, Cassie, Kayla and Nicole finally got around to waking up and we had breakfast while we waited to get called off the ship. Amanda and I both had a field lab for our World Theater and Performance class, but we weren’t leaving until 3, so we had time to explore in the morning. Everyone else had other plans, so Amanda and I set out on a date to see the Botanical Gardens. Singapore’s Gardens are known world-wide, and the orchid garden is supposed to be the best in the world. It took us roughly an hour to get to the gardens, and we mastered the subway system along the way. We spent about an hour there, using most of our time in the orchid garden. We would have liked to stay longer, but we had to give ourselves enough time to get back to the ship.

What should have been a painless journey back to the ship turned into a wild goose chase which would take us until the last second to get back safely. Amanda and I got off the train and made it to the bus stop at 1:45, giving us more than enough time to take the 5 minute bus ride back to the ship and get ready for our field lab. We ran into Connor and Tyler, two other SASers in our class at the bus stop, and we all hopped on the first bus we saw. Little did we know, there was more than one bus route on that side of town, and the bus ended up taking us at least 2 miles away from where we needed to be before asking us where we needed to go. When he said his route did not pass the cruise terminal, we got off and started to walk. We weren’t exactly sure where we were going, but we followed the shoreline about a mile in the right direction before we stopped to ask for directions. The man we asked said we should call a cab because the ship was still very far away, but boys will be boys and they made the decision to trek on.

At this point, we were pushing it close to 2:30 when we made it to the construction zone by the ship. Thinking we were home free, we navigated our way through the different construction zones, all the while getting ourselves more lost in the maze. When it was 2:45, we could see the ship but there was no straight-forward way to get there, so we finally broke down to hail a cab. Getting to the cruise terminal at 2:51, we had 9 minutes to clear customs, run to our room to change into clothes that weren’t dripping with sweat, turn around to clear customs again, and get to the bus before we got dock time. I don’t think I have ever run so hard in my life and we probably set the world record for the 100m dash. Even the custom workers noted how silly this was because on our way back out at 2:57, they asked if we were training for a marathon. Luckily, we made it with seconds to spare, running in at 2:59.

We left the terminal to head to the Singapore Concert Hall and Theater. We had a quick tour before setting off again to the Art Museum. We had roughly 2 hours there to explore Singaporean theater before getting back on the bus to go to the food court. This food court is noted as one of the 1001 things to do before you die, and I can understand why. When we walked in, there were at least 100 different food options, all different ethnic food types, and all for an amazingly cheap price. After dinner, we went to the Toy Factory where we saw The Crucible. The coolest part about this was after the show we had a meet and greet with the cast. My favorite part was the main actor was Asian but had an Irish accent. The cast did an excellent job, and it was cool to meet them as well. I am not a theater major, so this field lab was not extremely interesting, but there were also some really cool parts about it.  

We got back to the ship around 11:30, in time to run into Kayla and Raj who were just getting back from their adventures. Kayla, Amanda and I then did a fast turn around and left to go experience the nightlife of Singapore. While out, we ran into other SASers and had a great time. We managed to stay at one of the clubs until it closed at 4 when we decided it was time to get back to the ship. We got a taxi, and got on the ship around 5. We then set our alarms and took a power nap until 8 when we were up and ready to go again.

The next morning, Kayla, Amanda, Kwan and I took the subway to the inner harbor area where we got to see the Merlion- The city of Singapore’s mascot. After that, we found a street by the river that had a ton of different restaurants. Because Singapore is a fairly new country and a melting pot of the east, there were many ethnic food groups represented. We all broke down and ended up going to a Mexican restaurant. Our reasoning was that we have had the cultural food everywhere we have gone, and we needed a tiny cheat before hitting Burma and India. We had a great lunch that took about 2 hours before we decided to start to head back to the ship.

Carly, Amanda, Kwan, Kayla and I at the Merlion

At this point, we were all pretty tired, so we got back to the terminal and hung around using the wi-fi. Unfortunately, iMessage, FaceTime and Viber did not work, so I spent my time on Facebook. This could have been a great outlet to talk to people, except for the fact that it was 3 am back on the east coast, so we all just gave up and got on the ship.

One of the nicknames Singapore has donned is the “fine” city. Singapore is comparable to a cleaner NYC or Sydney, because the fine for littering is $1,000. Spitting is also $1,000 and graffiti can get you canned and tried. Drug trafficking is in no way allowed, and the penalty is death. Because of this reputation, we were all walking on eggshells and taking extra precaution. We had no reason to be worried, but it was extra scary since caning was allowed and SAS couldn’t do anything to help if we found ourselves in handcuffs. (I purchased a shot glass with some of the fines on them as a little souvenir.)

 It almost felt like an alternate universe because all of the Chinese people spoke English when we were so used to having to play charades in every other country. I enjoyed this port, but it was very westernized, and super expensive. The cost of living is a lot higher in Singapore, but at the same time 1 in 6 people living here are millionaires. The average cost of rest for an apartment is $9,500 a month. I could probably never afford to live here, but I would love to come back some day and experience more of what the country has to offer.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Sara,
    Gong Xi Fa Cai! I'm a Junior at International School of Kuala Lumpur but grew up in Bethesda, MD. I'm looking at High Point University and saw your blog listed under the study abroad program - i saw you were just in Singapore. Just wondering if you'd be able to tell me more about life at HPU.
    Thanks so much!
    Emma at