So I woke up this morning, got my breakfast buffet, and then went to pack my clothes. To my surprise, my clean clothes, which I had had laundered the day brefore, were packaged, complete with plastic, cardboard band, cardboard collar, cardboard stiff back, and those white plastic clippies. Do not even ask me how much I paid for laundry. Also, Asian people love packaging, they love it like they love their mamas.
One last shot of Hong Kong from my 40th floor window.
Here’s me on the airport express train. When I walked out of the hotel, the staff all asked if I wanted a cab, and I said, no way, are you nuts? I gotta take the subway.
Here’s what I learned: it is obnoxious to drag around a carry on, neck pillow, and brown bear hoodie sweatshirt on the Hong Kong MRT on a Tuesday during the morning commute. Next time, I will take a cab to Hong Kong Station, and then train the rest of the way.
Hong Kong is really amazing as a city, because every place I saw was all dense, with high rise apartments. The result is that 75% of the territory is undeveloped. They actually have a wild boar problem. Such a delicious problem !
There may be sprawl in the places I didn’t see, but the places I saw, even on the train to the airport, were vertical cities, served by services on the ground floor. Down on the road, the streets are narrow and human scale. It’s really spectacular.
I flew Jetstar Asia to Singapore, and my experience at the Hong Kong airport was annoying. I was annoyed. Nobody wants to read about how I was annoyed, but listen, if you’re flying Jetstar Asia, preorder your meal online and be prepared to check your carry on if it’s over 7 kilos. Obnoxious.
When I got to Singapore, all the Singapore stuff started. I got cash, I got a SIM card. I only needed to find the $9 Airport Hotel Shuttle and get something to eat. I asked the SIM card lady where the $9 Airport Hotel Shuttle, and she laughed broadly, and said, “There is no aiport shuttle for $9.” Luckily I had my email confirmation on my phone, and she read it and said, “ohh, you want the shuttle BUS, ok, yes, there’s a shuttle BUS.” Obviously. She pointed me in the right direction.
Here’s what happened as I was buying my ticket for the shuttle BUS. First, I watched a mom and a daughter go behind the transport desk and do their daily prayers toward Mecca. Doesn’t a big international airport have a place where Muslims can pray? I know they can pray anywhere, but it seems they would have planned a sacred space.
Second, I bought the ticket to the Airport Shuttle, and the two ladies behind the desk (one Indian, the other Chinese, both great English speakers) gave very clear instructions: put this sticker on your shirt. Sit in this chair and go NOWHERE. The driver will come for you.
So I was waiting for the driver, as was a young mother with a 9 year old by who was quietly eating his sandwitch. It was 3pm and I hadn’t had lunch and I wanted to eat a sandwich quietly like that boy.
Of course it turns out that the boy, once the sandwich is finished, is a little emperor. He talked super loud and was crawling all over the place. Finally the bus driver came, and he said to the kid, you’ll have to finish that and recycle the can. Of course little emperor ignored him, and while getting onto the bus, the driver said, you can’t drink that on the bus. Little emperor said “why?” and Singapore driver was amazing, “DON’T ASK WHY, THAT’S THE WAY IT IS, IF YOU WANT TO RIDE THE BUS YOU CAN’T HAVE FOOD OR DRINKS, YOU CAN STAY HERE IF YOU WANT.” It was breathtaking. Little emperor was stunned because no one had ever not indulged his spoiled ass before.
The ride into Singapore was quiet and clean, and the road is lined with fuchsias in bloom. I may have seen 20 miles of fuchsia-lined road. It’s a little striking how clean and well organized Singapore is, and it’s not the same vertical plan, but narrow human-scale at street level. Singapore is built on a grand scale for cars.
My cousin had warned me about the small hotel room we were sharing, but it turns out it has a sexy bathroom, just like in Hong Kong, PLUS a butt-hose bidet. It’s a win in my book.
The lady at the desk suggested Subway when I told her I was dying of hunger, but when I rejected the Subway idea, she said, “Walk 5 minutes until you see Chinatown Point, then you’ll know what to do.” She was right. I found a street-side buffet and spent 4 dollars on rice, two veggies, and a scoop of chicken. I took a picture of the hotel on the walk back, because the light was nice.
Later, Cousin D showed up and we went to Bak Kut Teh for some 肉骨茶. We also met his friends, D and T, who were charming.
We had a couple of beers at Clarke Quay, and then I went to the roof of the hotel, and it’s quite beautiful. Makes me wish I could smoke cigarettes up there and hang out, but I don’t smoke cigarettes, and knowing the Singaporeans It’s probably punishable by death.
Finally, I found a Sol with limón at the bar. Dont’ ask how much it cost, but the bartender answered me in Spanish. Tomorrow, lunch in Chinatown with JJ, and then black pepper crab, no matter what Cousin D says or does, I’m eating crab tomorrow. Sige!