After the weekend in Sydney, we did our teaches and then left on April 9th for Singapore. Since my flight wasn’t until the late afternoon, I headed down to the Canadian Consulate to drop off my form to vote in the upcoming federal election in Canada (May 2nd). I have quite a bit to say on that and will in another post but right now, Elections Canada needs to change a policy. Otherwise, I lose my right to vote. Anyways, Sydney was definitely interesting and I have to say that I like Australian Rules Rugby. Definitely faster and more impactful than American or Canadian football. Even hockey pales a bit in comparison.
I had flown Qantas to Sydney and used it to fly to Singapore, a flight that was 8 hours long. It’s definitely far more enjoyable than most North American flights. Now as some of you may know, Singapore culture is more strict and yet, more open. Sex and showing affection doesn’t seem that prevalent although one needs to be careful about the area that one goes to as there is a thriving prostitution trade. English is the first language but many people come from other Asian countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, etc. looking for a better life (36% of the population is made up of “foreigners”). Interestingly, prostitution is legal and prostitutes are required to get health checks but propositions of sex is technically illegal. Additionally, Singapore still uses caning as a form of corporal punishment. I, personally, was on extra good behaviour and wanted to ensure I didn’t violate any laws along the way because I didn’t want to find out how pain that particular activity would have been. That said, Singapore still maintains one of the strictest drug laws:
Now, Singapore is vastly more expensive than other cities we visited and it showed in the goods that were for sale. We even got to see a store that was selling a watch for $105,000 USD — and there were no security guards or the like. Expensive cars were the norm there including this one to the above. It seemed like everything was expensive in Singapore. As I had mentioned to a colleague, it wasn’t high on my list of places to visit because it struck me as one giant shopping mall. And it definitely lived up to that reputation.
But it wasn’t just that. The hotels were in competition with each other and with Dubai. There seemed to be this desire to build the highest and most outrageous hotels around. There is actually a taller hotel than the one to the right and another being built to be even more spectacular than this one. Going up is big for Singapore, a place that has a density of 7000+ people per square km (compared to the meager 3.4 people per square km that Canada has!) One thing for sure, however, no matter how humid you may say where you live is you’ve never experienced humidity like Singapore. Every day of the year is at least 80% and the temp never seems to go below 28C/82F — without humidity and early morning. It’s about 35C/95F with the humidity! As we often say in Canada, it’s not the heat — it’s the humidity. I think that should be the motto for Singapore.
One of the students did take us, on the night before we left for Beijing, to the local market and got some durian.
Durian is known as the “King of Fruit”. It’s an interesting fruit to say the least. You’ll pick up on the smell first: very earthy. Now eating it is interesting. He did say that people generally like it or hate it. It’s very creamy in texture and I think I could handle a slice or two each year but beyond that it’d be too much. If you do try durian make sure to get some fresh young coconuts to drink and wash the taste out of your mouth (expect that it will probably stay somewhere in your digestive tract for a day or two). Oh.. and it makes the washroom visits rather.. err.. interesting.
Saturday afternoon I headed off for Beijing, very anxious. As a trans person who still has the wrong gender on his passport, visiting places where their cultural and society can make the US Christian Right-Wing look downright socialist is very scary. But, oddly and interestingly enough, I had not one issue. Perhaps a form of male privilege at work?