Welcome back to Chet’s internet adventure hole. This time we’re going all the way to the equator to visit the world’s smallest country, Singapore. My editor has informed me that there are a handful of places that are technically smaller, but they mostly seem like made up things to help popes and Europeans feel important. For years in Singapore, nobody could seem to agree on whether Singapore is a city, an island, a country, or just a branch they tripped over while they were hiking from Indonesia to Malaysia. In recent years they’ve settled on the latter so they don’t have to worry about China randomly trying to claim ownership over them.
Time for a history lesson. Singapore first became a thing that people cared about in the early 1800’s when a British fellow by the name of Raffles (same name as the potato chips) decided that Britland didn’t have enough stuff yet. He and a few of his poker buddies established a trading port on the island. They mostly traded potato chips and opium with the Chinese and the Indians who liked to smoke and chow down. This was all well and good for nearly 150 years until the Japanese decided to break off a little piece of Britland during the war. However, after the war, they went back to Japan and Singapore went back to being Britland. A lot has changed since then. Once the 90’s happened, the Singaporean people decided that having more money would make them rich, so they decided to be prosperous. They eventually awarded themselves independence from Britland and now instead of getting high on opium, they get hanged for opium. If that’s all too much to remember, just think of Asia like a neighborhood and Singapore as the new neighbor that drives a sports car, speaks a strange incomprehensible language, and has lots of rules regarding what their kids are allowed to do.
Among the things that people fuss about not being able to do in Singapore are chewing gum, littering, and fighting in the streets. While rules prohibiting these things might seem unusual, I’m not sure I’ve felt threatened by not being allowed to chew on something with less nutritional content than a pencil eraser. However, it was a real drag to walk down sparking clean streets while nobody was punching me. Singapore’s nickname is “The Fine City”. They call it that because the locals like Bali somewhat better.
To my surprise, they speak English here, but it’s a strange kind of English that is full of Chinese and Indian and whatever language they speak in Malaysia. Fortunately, I knew enough Chinese to convince the locals that I am just a tourist.
Unfortunately, during this trip the world is under the grip of the deadly 2020 Costanzavirus, which I assume is named after my favorite TV show character. In order to avoid the spread of germs, the NRA recommends that we drink a bottle of hand sanitizer daily and refrain from coughing in anyone else’s mouth. OK, back to business!
The first thing any good tourist does upon arriving in a new country is figure out what the money is worth. Turns out their dollars are called dollars but they’re only worth 75 cents! Like so many that came before me, I was now more prosperous just for coming to Singapore.
As the great General Tso once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, so I started my adventure with a walk. By the way, I think the general was so busy trading opium with Mohammed Ali that nobody told him about airplanes.
A proper tourist knows that day one in a new place should be spent taking the same pictures that everyone else has taken a billion times, so I went to see the famous Gardens by the Bay. The most famousest part of the Gardens is those big funnel things that I saw from across the river. To test my theory that they were built by aliens, I mumbled some alien-sounding gibberish to the ticket officer and to my surprise, he pointed me in the direction of the towers. Confirmed!
The aliens built these towers to honor Singapore’s long-standing commitment to sustainability. Apparently aliens like global warming as much as humans do because they cut down real trees to make room for big electric ones that have elevators in them.
I accidentally happened upon a famous statue on one of my “journeys of 1000 steps”. The Merlion! Half-mermaid, half-lion, half-statue, half-merlion, this statue was the first creature that Raffles hunted and ate when he arrived in Singapore.
The merlion has since been hunted to extinction due to their delicious scaly tails. However, their legend lives on! The locals still pay tribute when, after a long night of excessive drinking, they come home and “merlion” all over their bedroom. You know what I mean.
I also walked by the famous motorboat hotel that they went to in that movie about the crazy rich Asians. By the way, I have the pleasure to announce that I’ve secured a cameo in the sequel, Crazy Rich Eskimos. There’s a scene where I’m eating imported penguin meat on the roof of a 100-story igloo. Be sure to watch!
You can’t have a week in Singapore without eating something, or at least I didn’t try to, so here are some pictures of food. I also posted them on Idiotgram to remind other millennials to stop playing with their phones long enough to eat. You can use the hashbrown #someonepleasepayattentiontomyuninterestinglife to find them.
A lot of the food in Singapore is served in places called hawker centers. That means you’re supposed to spit on the floors while you eat. They’re like cafeterias full of food stalls. The locals come around and talk to you, but you have to really like talking about buying fruit drinks to keep the conversation going.
One of the classic attractions in Singapore is the zoo. Animals from all over the world come there to see the diverse selections of humans peering through the glass back at them. In an effort to be as diverse as possible, I made myself a toga from an American flag, gelled my hair with maple syrup, and carried my novelty oversized sombrero (I never travel without this). I could tell all the animals were impressed by how well I represented the culture of North America.
Most zoos have animals in the daytime, but this one had animals in the night time, too! The Night Safari experience gives you the rare opportunity to see animals that are awake all through the night! I learned from the zookeeper that animals that are up all night are called insomniacs and that no flash photography was allowed. The flash makes the animals think it’s daytime, and if you confuse them they’ll forget what day it is and they’ll mistakenly show up for work on a Saturday. So like us.
My time in Singapore was just flying by, but I did want to make sure I checked out some of the local pockets of culture there. Sharpen your pitchforks, Chet is going to make jokes on Arab Street!
I learned a lot about culture on my walk down Arab street. I had learned from Fox News that the Middle East was all about magic carpets and bombs, but everyone I asked mostly rode on the subway instead. They didn’t have any bombs, either. The merchants I met sold regular carpets, or non-magic lamps, or meat on a stick and they were very nice to me even if I when tried to lick their handmade pottery. Lesson learned, never trust a tricky Fox.
Next I went to Little India to see if Fox News was also wrong about Indian people having six arms and riding around on elephants. Turns out that was only mostly false, but I’ll have to go to Regular Sized India to see if that’s any different.
On my final day in Singapore, I went down to a magical fantasy land called Sentosa. Sentosa is a little island where you go if you’re the kind of tourist who would give anything to not feel dead inside. They have a place called ResortWorld and a Casino and a little chunk of America called Universal Studios. People come from miles around to try out the new ride at Universal Studios. It’s a simulator of what it would be like to take your hard-earned money and throw it directly in a trash can. I, of course, had to give it a try. First I bought my $80 ticket and entered the park. After a few rides, I asked myself “Is this what I paid for?” and then I realized the truth... their throw-my-money-in-the-garbage simulator was fantastically realistic. I didn’t take any pictures, but if you want to see what it looks like just google image search “gift shop” and try and imagine a gift shop that’s inside of a larger, shittier gift shop.
Sentosa, in the local dialect means, “Decoy Singapore”. Its purpose is to keep the worst tourists away from the locals. Fortunately they had a beach that was really nice. There weren’t even that many people thanks to Costanzavirus.
The next day I left Singapore. Where I’ll go next, I don’t really know. I guess the folks at the airport ticketing gate will ask so maybe I’ll just make something up on the spot. One ticket to Gotham City, please.