Tag Archives: singapore

Notes on Singapore

  • Singapore is the most food-intensive place I have ever seen. More than San Francisco, more than Paris, more than Hong Kong, more than Fremont…more than just about anywhere. All cuisines and budgets seem to be represented. And there are a surprising number of tapas bars.
  • It’s humid, but not as humid as I was expecting. It’s been mostly around 80%, which is not as bad as Ohio in August. Of course, the humidity goes up during thunderstorms.
  • Most restrooms don’t have paper towels. What they usually have instead is a big roll of toilet paper near the sinks. Have you ever tried to dry your hands on toilet paper?
  • Napkins are also nonexistent. Tissues are sometimes available to purchase. I mostly just used my pants.
  • Cousin Mosquito is still around.


  • There are four official languages — English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil — but English is officialer than the others. A lot of signs have multiple languages, but if a single language is used, it’s always English. Even in the multi-lingual sign below, the words “notice” and “SBS Transit” are only in English.


  • Oh, yeah, man. Free Flow Kimchi is awesome. I saw them open for Toad the Wet Sprocket.


  • Photos are available on Flickr.

Butterflies and Condiment Confiscation

Singapore airport has a butterfly garden. No apparent reason; it’s just there. It’s a nice one, though. I would even go so far as to say that it’s the nicest airport-based butterfly garden that I have ever seen.

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But things took a dark turn when I went through security and they spotted the kaya spread that I had bought as a gift. It was larger than the allowable size, and thus had to be confiscated, presumably to eliminate the threat of explosives made from spreadable condiments.

I’m now in the Taipei airport with five hours to kill. I was going to take the train into the city and go to the night market, but that would require filling out an entry form and going through customs and passport control in both directions and then security again, and all of that sounds like much more trouble than it’s worth. I’d rather just sit here in the food court.

Clarke Quay

After dinner I went wandering along the River Walk toward Clarke Quay.

Clarke Quay is a more upscale and touristy area than Boat Quay, which is where I had dinner.


There’s some bungy ride, but after four beers, I figured that was contraindicated.


I got some coconut ice cream and wandered around for a while, then went back to the hotel.

Searching for Ganesh

This morning I went to Little India to find a statue of Ganesh. I’m not Hindu, but I used to work with Ganesh in the Silicon Valley and he was a pretty nice guy, so I figured a statue of him* would be a nice souvenir of Singapore.

Little India is full of cut-rate clothing shops, goldsmiths, phone card kiosks, tailors with sewing machines on the sidewalks, tiny restaurants, fruit stands, and the occasional temple. Incense is everywhere.


I found only two places that sold decent Ganesh statues. There were others, but they were either cheap tourist junk or gold-plated things that looked like cheap tourist junk, even though they were expensive. Seriously, gold-plated Ganesh is just tacky.**

The place I found had multiple Ganeshae in different sizes and materials. They cost more than I expected, so I had to go down in size, but I got a nice brass one for SG$95. I would have preferred this larger one, but at SG$12,500, it was out of my price range by a couple orders of magnitude. And Customs might have had some issues.


Anyway, yadda yadda, it’s now evening, and I am once again having satay and beer on Boat Quay. It’s at a different place, though. The first place was quick to bring me beer, but for some reason wouldn’t take my order. So I left some money on the table and went to a different place, where they seem happy to bring me satay. And I drank the peanut sauce again.


* I’m not 100% sure it’s the same Ganesh, but he could have had a nose job.
** I’m pretty sure I saw Gold-Plated Ganesh open for REO Speedwagon.

Among the Supertrees

Gardens by the Bay are the botanic gardens of the future, it says here in my guide book. They’re a fantasyland of space-age biodomes, high-tech Supertrees and whimsical sculptures. They’re as thrilling to architecture buffs as they are to nature lovers.

Well, they are very nice.

The conservatories are the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest Dome, which are very impressive but a bit pricey at $28 for dual entry (about US$19).


Still, where else can you see pitcher plants in both regular and Lego varieties? (Lego pitcher plants are, of course, indigenous to Legoland.)


The Supertrees are basically exhaust vents that have been made to look nice. They stuck plants all over them and charge $8 (US$6) to let you walk around in the canopy. Very nice view in all directions.