Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 7 - 75% fresh tired feet

And on the 7th day, we were bewildered and disoriented. That is, those of us not familiar with the Chinatown wet market were. In the basement of a huge complex in Chinatown is a market with what has to be hundreds of vendors selling fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, spices, seafood, dried goods, etc, etc. There were many interesting things I’d never seen before, but to list them here would take hours maybe days. Instead I’ll skip to the most interesting: seafood and live food. There are three rows of stands selling nothing but seafood of all varieties, but mostly fish. Many stands had a big butcher’s block where an often shirtless man wearing rubber gloves and a rubber apron and wielding a huge cleaver, hacked fish apart with terrifying speed and precision. The blood flew. Fish were scaled alive. Huge frogs were slaughtered one after another before our eyes. Yes, frogs. There were thousands of live frogs. And live eels. And live turtles. And live snakehead fish and carp and post operation’s fish (what is that? I don’t know). We saw a 4 ft black tipped reef shark on ice. There was 100% fresh crocodile meat (which made me wonder….what is 75% fresh crocodile meat?). There were also tons of prawns, salmon, snapper, etc. All for sale. Quite good prices. And the place was packed.

To tell the truth, It made me really want a kitchen here so I could make a huge dinner for everyone with all the awesome food (note: some of the things described above do not fit into my personal ‘awesome’ category).

There ended the environmental relevance for the day. We put on the tourist hats and then we walked until our feet fell off.

We left the market mid-late morning to explore various places of worship. I will apologize here and now for what I’m sure is a blasphemous representation of most of these places and religions. Please be patient and remember, I’m only a simple savage who mostly worships the wind moving my sailboat.

1st stop, a Buddhist temple. The 1st floor was filled with incense smoke and chanting Buddhists and walls and ceilings ornately decorated with red and gold. Not sure about the 2nd floor. The 3rd floor was the museum and reliquary describing the life of Buddha and sacred relics of his body. The 4th floor was where they were trying to cover the floor of an entire room with golden tiles each costing $5000. The top floor was the roof where there was an awesome open garden with orchids and waterfalls and the shrine of 10,000 Buddhas.

After this we split up for more walking and people saw different things. A bunch of us went into the Hindu temple which was full of people doing all kinds of things…eating, worshipping, resting, talking, and chilling out (or so it seemed to me). We had to take off our shoes to enter and taking photos cost $3. We also had to take off our shoes to go inside the mosque. No photos of people were allowed and an American guy who had converted to Islam explained some things to us and then tried to convert us. He had to interrupt himself to get robes to cover up Jenny and Elda who were wearing shorts. There was a ton of pro-Islam propaganda on the walls.

I hear that some people visited the Taoist temple which I gather was equally interesting. As Professor Mike noted this morning, perhaps even more interesting is that all these religions seem to coexist here in close proximity in what appears to be general tolerance if not harmony.

At a food court during lunch, some of us tried a durien milkshake. Durien is an infamous fruit in Singapore for smelling absolutely foul. Our curiosity got the better of our reason and we actually drank about half of this foul concoction that smelled bad and tasted largely of rotting onions.

A bunch of people walked some more around Chinatown shopping at the hawkers’ stalls. Many Asian delights were purchased at low prices.

A small group of us continued walking in Little India where the sidewalks were so full you had to walk in the street. We had special pulled tea. We went into Mustafa, a store containing everything WalMart contains except in 1/10 the area with tiny aisles packed with people. We walked through another mosque. The girls were observed frequently by the Indian males. I saw illegally exported electronic waste sitting on pallets on the sidewalk. We walked more. And then we all felt disgusting and had to go home and shower worse than 100 apes in a closet-sized hothouse. I’ll leave you with that image. And this one.

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