Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 8 - Half touristy

Today was hotter than the armpit of Satan. Keep that in mind as you read.

After a late start, we took taxis to the US embassy to hear a presentation from to State Department foreign service officers, Matt and Elizabeth (I think), who discussed the US role in Singapore. Most of this is economy-related due to Singapore’s importance as the busiest trading port in the world, and security-related due to Singapore’s importance as the busiest trading port in the world. Apparently, Singapore is nervous about its size and location among developing, sometimes hostile nations, and the US is trying to help them out a little and they are trying to help us out a little, mostly because they are the busiest trading port in the world. Does the State Department focus on environmental or marine issues here? Not really, since those are more Singapore’s domain and the big problems are mostly in surrounding countries and the US is much more focused on the fact that Singapore is an exceptionally lucrative trading partner and that they have the busiest trading port in the world. It was interesting to see the lens with which DC views Singapore as it is all so strategic.

Then we stepped out of A/C and into the blazing sun. We walked (slowly, trying and failing not to sweat) to Samy’s Curry restaurant. This place has insanely good food. They put down a banana leaf in front of you, hand you lime juice which is probably the most refreshing possible thing you can drink when in such close proximity to Satan, and then they walk around with tons of different Indian curry dishes, spooning them onto your leaf. You ask them, “Is it spicy?” They say “No, no, not spicy.” And so you accept and they put it on your leaf. And then you eat it (often with fingers) and then your mouth rapidly begins to burn with a not so subtle creeping white-hot fire. Their specialty was fish head curry. This was a quite fishy curry which had an enormous fish head in the middle of it. At the other end of the table, they were interested in eating this; at our end, the group was interested in dissection. Elda and Joanna were unable to find the otolith, but Noelle meticulously pulled apart the eyeballs and peeled all the tissue off the lenses so we could play with them. Annabelle walked down to our end at one point and, after looking at our fish head, said with obvious consternation: “You guys haven’t eaten the best parts!” The food was wholly too good for our own good and many (including yours truly, the Asian food glutton) won’t have much of an appetite tonight.

The group split up again, half going to the Urban Redevelopment Authority to see how Singapore is planning their future. I hear they had cool hands on GIS layers that displayed where the coastline is and where reclamation has/will take place to change the coastline so that Singapore has more space to develop.
Those of us with lower IQs ventured back into the heat to spend the next few hours walking about the Botanic Gardens. These were quite lovely, especially the Orchid Garden which had countless beautiful flowers and soothing horticultural achievements of all shapes and colors. I would have enjoyed it even more had I not spent so much time sticking my head in fountains and standing under the misters in the cool house trying to relieve the pain from the fire in the sky. Eventually, we couldn’t take boiling in our own sweat anymore and headed home.

No comments:

Post a Comment