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Archive for the ‘Weird Asia’ Category

 

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Durians in Chinatown.

 

 

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It’s a common sight to see a Singapore LTA (Land Transport Authority) dummy acting to control traffic. The first time you see one, you might have a giggle as I did. It can seem a strange tactic and you may wonder if it works.

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LTA Mannequin – Photo not mine.

But what if we spin that scenario on it’s side? What about an LTA officer standing so still that you THINK he’s a dummy. This is what I saw on foot near Jurong East the other day. It took me watching for a while to realize this was an actual officer. I’m not sure if this was on purpose or not, but I have to think it was or the officer was practicing for a future career transition as a living statue ala Amanda Palmer.

Well done sir on the discipline. Standing that still takes a lot of hard work! In the end it was the small movements in your hands that gave you away.

LTA officer

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One thing about having interior designer friends is you get a totally different perspective on building design and public spaces.

For instance, I had long ago succumbed to the fact that establishments in Singapore don’t always have their own bathroom. You have to leave the premises to find a shared bathroom used by the building. While I find it a little off putting but just one of those quirks about living in Singapore, my interior designer friend was highly annoyed.

“How can an establishment this big NOT have a toilet?” moaned Lee.

“I don’t know, but speaking of, can you tell me where the toilet is?” I answered.

She pointed me out the building and around the corner. While there, I snapped a photo of this.

Clean Bathroom CampaignI sent the photo to my friend in the US who has spent some time in Singapore and also finds these campaigns fascinating. As I have mentioned before, the number of campaigns in this country is staggering.

“Hrm… is that really a problem?” she asked.

“I guess so,” I answered. “Otherwise there wouldn’t be a campaign for it.”

I shared the conversation with Lee and the other folks at the table and received back a unified “Yes, yes, YES. It is DEFINITELY a problem.”

“There you go,” I answered.

Here in Singapore, sometimes the loos are completely spotless, like at Changi Airport or the Zoo. At other times, not so much. It really shows you what an effort is put into keeping the clean ones clean. The next time I use the facilities at Changi Airport and am asked to rate my experience, I am giving the attendant full marks. It’s not an easy job to keep the loos clean, and often a thankless one.

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A post-dinner cruise through Chinatown had myself and a few friends stumble on this site.

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“Huh,” we thought. “Is this legit?” Stephanie immediately chucked the boxes out of the way and sat down for a try.

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Unfortunately, the massage chair didn’t work. Massage chair uncle in his most stylish tee came out to troubleshoot the situation.

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Ahhhhhhhh. There we go.

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A few minutes later we were on our way having made a few new friends in this ambiguous shopfront.

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I love everyday life in Singapore Chinatown.

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With the likes of durian and passionfruit, my life has become a lot like that lastminute.com advert that urges you to “go somewhere with complementary fruit you’ve never even heard of.”  Oh come on, you’ve seen it. There’s a version of it here.

My friend, Eva, whom I recently met in Thailand urged me to try rambutans. Tricky to open, they are delicious, sweet and they come in small bite size portions. Because of their small portion size, I like to refer to them as “low commitment fruit.”

Cruising through the market in Singapore, the aunties are pushing their produce. Lo and behold! Rambutans.

I picked up a bunch for snacking. I had to, they wouldn’t sell them in any smaller quantities.

RAMBUTANS!

RAMBUTANS!

To eat, cut the skin open or squeeze in your hand until a lychee-like ball appears. Be careful of the seed!

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Oh no! They’ve closed the Singapore Carrefour! Both of them!

Panic. Where am I going to get things?

“Imagine not having a Walmart or a Target to go to,” I tell Leslie back in Texas.

“Yeah, I could see how that would be annoying,” she says.

It’s not that either of us like or philosophically support Walmart, it’s just that sometimes it becomes a necessary evil.

“Can’t you order things online?” Leslie asks.

“No,” I sigh. “Some things you can, but its not like they have an Amazon here.”

“Can you Yelp it?” she suggests.

“Nope no Yelp either,” I answer.

Hopefully someone more business-minded and less lazy than myself will see this as an opportunity.

But alas, this may be an overreaction. Afterall, there’s always the Mustafa Center.

In the heart of little India and open 24 hours, it’s 75,000sq ft of random and not so random items, a hotel, café and supermarket. It is the place to go to buy tomato soap, an engagement ring, an ipad and an eye massager all at 2 am on a Tuesday, emerging three days later after a sensory overload induced psychosis has finally run its course.

That’s right, I said tomato soap, not soup. And yes, an eye massager as well.

Eye massager. Multiple varieties available.

Did you think I was kidding?

In the spirit of Diwali, maybe I’ll head down to little India. Since I’m there anyway, perhaps I’ll pick up a curry, some aspirin and a new laser printer.

If I’m not back by Friday, send a search party out.

Editor’s note: Yelp has answered my plea! Or maybe I was mistaken in the past. Seems like some Singapore places are rated on the site. It’s a start.

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