May 282005

I am never complaining about having my baggage inspected at the airport in the US again. I’ve just had every item in my suitcase removed, squeezed, refolded, neatened up, and repacked by a very polite and friendly young man.

One item at a time.

Veeerrrrryyyy sssslllloooowwwwllllyyyy……..

If I had been more awake I would have screamed in frustration, “Just drop the whole damn stack in there! I have to wash it all anyway! ARRRGHH!” Luckily I wasn’t, and I didn’t. If I had, he probably would have shot me, then apologized for it very profusely.

Now I’m parked on the carpet outside the gate, waiting for them to let us through the last security checkpoint. Ten minutes to go.

Ok, now I’m through, after getting my carry-on checked. The screener saw something she didn’t like on the scanner, but they didn’t object to anything they found. Now I’m finally sitting at the gate. Here, they have a metal detector and bag scanner at every gate, and each gate is in its own glassed-in area. I can only imagine how horrendously slow it is during peak hours, and I’m really glad I’m here at 5am.

I ended up taking a nap, but only managed to sleep about an hour before staggering down to check out.

Tuesday, May 31 2pm

I’m back! The flight was long of course, but luckily there was no layover in Japan. In fact, they hustled us from one gate to the next because the next flight was already starting to load when we got there. I had a bizarre and disturbing dream on the flight to Japan, which was fairly bumpy. I dreamed that I was awake and sitting in my seat on the plane. The sky outside was blood red and suddenly I saw the black silhouettes of birds flying past the window. I knew that one of them was going to go right through the cockpit window, causing the plane to crash, and remember thinking, “This is it!” Then I heard a loud, rapid, mechanical honking sound, which I assumed was a collision alarm, and it startled me awake. It took me a few seconds to realize that the alarm was only in my dream, no one else was reacting to anything, and there are no birds that fly above 35,000 feet that I ever heard of. The rest of that flight (until I fell asleep again) I was acutely aware that I was in a fragile aluminum shell hurtling through the air at over 600 mph, and I wondered if the plane came apart, would I die instantly, would I freeze to death as I fell, or would the impact with the ocean get me? I’ve never been afraid of flying before but after that I understand how some people can be terrified of it. Oddly though, the flight from Japan to Detroit didn’t bother me at all. *shrug* Weird.

It was good to be home and, after some Welcome Back festivities, we headed to Greektown for dinner. I was in bed and asleep by 9:30pm, and didn’t wake up until 8:30 the next morning. I dreamed vividly all night, mostly involving my car getting stolen in Riverview. I called the police but the first cop I spoke to kept wanting to talk about my kid’s school attendance record. He ignored me when I told him I didn’t have any kids and that my car had been stolen. After hanging up and calling 911 I finally got someone who had a clue, but then realized that I was dreaming and my car was out in the parking lot at home. I hung up on the dispatcher and continued with the rest of the dream.

Yesterday was mostly spent reformatting and reloading my hard drive. The thing was hosed beyond repair and just needed to be wiped. Thank Norton for Ghost, and that I had made a backup image of the drive several weeks ago. I’ve been able to reload programs from the backup without having to dig out the CDs, and some programs I don’t have the disks for anymore.

I’m hoping to get it finished and have all the Singapore pics posted sometime this week, but with the wedding coming up and Mollie & family in town, dunno if that will happen. 3 more days to wedded bliss!

 Posted by at 4:38 pm
May 282005

Today I did some sightseeing on my last day in Singapore and took a whole bunch of pictures. I also walked.

A lot.

I also rode the train system, which is arguably one of the best in the world. It’s scrupulously clean, modern, efficient, easy to navigate, and everything’s in English (bonus!). The streets of Singapore, however, are easy to get lost in. I thought downtown Detroit had a screwy layout, but it’s got nothing on The SG. The main roads are on a grid (sort of), but the minor streets that sprout off of or between them are like some giant automotive fractal pattern. It took me almost half an hour to go ONE block, trying to get from the Suntec City mall to my hotel, mostly because of construction. I went up and over and down and around and back again, ended up on a roof, dead-ended in a MALL of all places, and finally made it back. Most of downtown is an underground mall, with the only way to tell one tri-level subterranean shopping area from another is by the signs hanging from the ceiling. Once I paid more attention to the signs, and the arrows on them, it made it much easier to find my way around, and I got everywhere I wanted to go without much hassle.

First I took a cab over to Malay Village which, according to the website, was a kind of heritage museum and shopping area. I got there about 90 minutes before it all opened up, and I wasn’t very impressed. The “traditional Malaysian village” wasn’t open either, and from what I could see of it, it was pretty low-rent. I gave up and started looking for the train station since I was sure it was cheaper than a cab and I wanted to try it anyway. It’s one of the few clear memories I have from my last visit to Singapore 15 years ago. Of course I got lost. I went north instead of south, then wandered back and forth along the road trying not to look TOO clueless, and failing. I was away from the downtown area in more of a working class section of the city, and I felt very tall and VERY white. I found a 7-Eleven(!) to get a bottle of water and ask directions, and got back on track. I took the train over to the marina area and wandered some more, snapping some pictures. I also visited the Merlion fountain, which stands on the edge of the marina area and sprays a jet of water from it’s mouth into the harbor. I don’t know how it manages to spit in public and not get fined; everyone else does.

Afterwards I tried to get back to the hotel and rest, and had my “wandering in the desert” episode I mentioned above. After cooling off and dumping my pictures to the laptop, I headed back out to see Sentosa Island, one of the major attractions of Singapore. It’s a large island off the southern tip of the country, reachable by bridge, ferry, or cable car. I chose the cable car and paid the extra cash for the glass bottom car. Not only did I get a better view, I got to skip the huge line of Chinese tour groups and go straight up the elevator. I felt very VIP. And still very tall and very white. 🙂

The cable car runs over 150′ above the water and even though I have no particular fear of heights, even I had a second or two of vertigo when I passed over the support tower midway across. The view is spectacular however, and definitely the route of choice when going to the island. The best way to describe Sentosa is kind of like Busch Gardens, without the rides. There’s an orchid garden, a giant synchronized fountain show, bike and hiking trails, a 200′ long mosaic river/fountain, golf course, beaches, all surrounded by tropical rainforest. I walked and walked, and walked some more. It was very cool to walk through an actual jungle and hear all the frogs, insects, and birds. There are even troupes of long-tailed Macaque monkeys, but I didn’t get to see any. It was just like the stereotypical jungle you see in movies, and everything smelled intensely green. All I needed was a fedora and a bullwhip, and I would have felt just like Indiana Jones, at least until I got run over by a tour bus. I had intended to stay for the 7:40pm fountain show, when everything is lit up, but after seeing the end of the daytime show, it just wasn’t impressive enough to stay another two hours, then work my way back to the mainland and to the hotel. In total, I was there about four hours, and by then I was tired, sore, and drenched in sweat. A geologist could have probably determined my age by the number of layers of mineral salts I was coated in. I didn’t get to see even half of what was there, but I was happy I got to wander on my own in a new place for awhile. I’ll post all of my pics on my website gallery when I get back, but here’s a tease:

About five more hours before I check out and head to the airport. I’m going to try and stay awake until then, and for the seven hours of the flight to Narita, so I can sleep as much as possible on the way to Detroit and start to reset my body clock. Dunno if I’ll manage to not sleep, but I’ve already had a raspberry frappucino from the Starbucks across the street and there’s coffee and tea in the room. See you all tomorrow!

 Posted by at 9:01 am
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