Asia Day 1-4: Singapore

  • The unfortunate thing about arriving after midnight is that a lot of things you need are closed. My only regret was getting a SingTel prepaid card at the airport, since they only came in 50 SGD denominations. Now I know better. And unfortunately. The MRT was closed too, which meant paying many monies for taxi service, which also threw a wrench in things when it turned out that the taxi company had stopped accepting Visa literally 24 hours before. And so I started off minus a significant chunk of change.
  • Luckily, food in Singapore is good and cheap, even in mall food courts, where it’s slightly more expensive (but still a ridiculously good deal compared to home). A list of things I ate in Singapore: kaya toast with soft boiled eggs, lor mee, chicken rice, laksa, duck rice, murtabak, mee pok, claypot chicken rice, bah kut teh, carrot cake, chicken rice.
  • Because it is important to set priorities, one of the first things I did was locate the Jubeat machines and acquire an eAMUSEMENT pass. I played a game before realising that I had to go and buy the pass too. Once got it, the girl who had been there for a while noticed I was a noob and offered to play a local match with me to give me some songs. Arcade Jubeat is a lot more tiring than tablet Jubeat because you need to actually move your hands and press down with a bit more force. Some patterns took a bit of work to translate from the small screen. The hardest thing to do was figuring out how to hit patterns that occur on the top and bottom row, because that distance couldn’t be covered by stretching my hands anymore.
  • After tiring myself out, I went to get an EZ-Link card for the MRT. Doing the thing where you place your entire wallet on the card reader is fun. Not having to deal with tokens is fun. The stations themselves aren’t design wonders or art installations and I don’t think they need to be. I’m okay with stations that look the same, as long as they’re nice. An interesting thing about suicide barriers is that they serve a few more purposes than preventing suicides. They close off the station to the tunnels, so the stations can be climate controlled more effectively. They also prevent stuff from flying onto the tracks and getting set on fire. They provide more space for signage. And they also make the station nice and quiet when trains come rushing in and shield the station from the accompanying gust of wind.
  • Inside the trains themselves, the one thing that’d really help in Toronto is the indicator for which side the doors are opening on. Yes, the TR1s already have the LED sign point it out when the trains arrive, but the MRT trains have a little section next to the LED route map which either lights up the THIS SIDE panel or the OTHER SIDE panel while the train is headed to the next station.
  • After having wandered around the malls at Orchard and being very tired, I noticed that a deficiency of Singaporean malls is the lack of seating. I think I could only ever find one bench per floor, at most. I would later discover that this is a deficiency in most Asian malls.

Asia Day 0

On kind of a whim, I decided to go to a bunch of places in Asia. I never did go on a cool trip after I finished my undergrad. I kind of figured if I were going to go check out Asia, it’d have to be now, in what’s likely my last significant chunk of time I have where I can do what I want without feeling bad.

So I decided to go to a bunch of places. How did I decide? Well, I definitely want to go to Japan, so I decided to be in Tokyo during Comiket because I am a gigantic nerd. And if I was going to Japan, I should probably go to Hong Kong because I likely wouldn’t go there otherwise and family and all. And I decided to go to Singapore because just going to HK and Tokyo seemed kind of lame for a trip and Singapore seems like a cool place that I could survive in with English and poor Cantonese skills. And I decided to go to Kuala Lumpur because it’s close enough to Singapore and also seems like a cool city. I like cities. So the plan is Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.

I got up bright and early to get to Pearson because US security takes hours or something. It turns out that didn’t really help except maybe to beat the horrible 401 rush hour traffic. They do this thing now where they queue you in customs by departure time, so I basically spent two hours between check-in and customs. Apparently this is because of US budget cuts or something. THANKS OBAMA.

The first flight was a tiny one to Chicago and was fairly pleasant. Wifi was allegedly offered on the flight but I never got it to work. Oh well, it was short enough that it didn’t really matter and I got some chores done in Animal Crossing. O’Hare was okay I guess except that they don’t offer free wifi. THANKS OBAMA.

I don’t fly much, so this is my first significant experience on a long flight. It sucks. Being on an airplane is neat. Being on an airplane for fifteen hours without Internet is not so great. Especially when assigned next to a baby. I dabbled around on my 3DS and iPad for a bit before realising I could check out the on board entertainment. I ended up watching the first half an hour of House of Cards and Wreck-it Ralph before settling on two episodes of Top Gear and Utada Hikaru’s second singles collection. Deliverance eventually arrived and I got to explore HKG.

First, I’d like to mention that the HK security people don’t seem intimidating at all. They all seemed like laid back Cantonese sitcom people. After the quick checkpoint, I looked for food and decided to get congee because the airline food was kinda gross. One very nice thing about HKG is that they have these wonderful charging stations that include USB outlets. Sadly, there only seemed to be one for an entire stretch of gates.

The flight from HK to Singapore was a lot nicer since the actual flight was much shorter and I was seated beside grown men instead of screaming and pooping children. And that brings us to Singapore.