Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Singapore, Day 4 - II, Holland Village

I took a taxi to Holland Village. What a fire trap! I used to be a safety person so let me tell you: no exit signs, narrow corridors, crowds of people, no sprinkler system, and flammable materials everywhere. It was like a rabbit warren chock full of rabbits. Deep breaths, try to calm myself, think nothing will happen, aum, aum, aum… Geez, this place got me meditating!

Quick survey, lots of ceramics shops, all full of junk. Okay, time to get out and eat. Once outside I noticed something else about Singapore; I wouldn’t want to be in a wheelchair here. Sidewalks are treacherous even for the able bodied. Here I came upon a deep drainage ditch between the two walks that was unavoidable, too wide to leap, too narrow to climb down into and back up out of, and could only be traversed by walking over a narrow cement plank (12 inches, 30.5 centimeters) that joined the two walks; no railings in sight of course. I guess that since there are monsoons, there is the need for quite a lot of drainage to handle the water. I must say that while here, I have not seen a puddle, even though we get scads of rain daily. Sometimes sidewalk safety is sacrificed for flood safety. Nothing’s always perfect (the one pictured is).

I ate lunch at a noodle shop and had chicken with bok choy and noodles. It was a bit greasy and had too much soy sauce but was okay. I also had weak lemonade.

Next I went to the outdoor covered market and found koi for sale. I was so excited that I took pictures. My assessment: colors were good, patterns were common. Went to Hagen Daaz and bought a cone to cool me down.

Went back into the ‘fire trap’ and found the linen store. I introduced myself to the lady proprietor and bought two pillow shams and a runner made from used silk sari material (see picture). They look gorgeous in my house but were not cheap. I also bought one block printed silk scarf (rose with navy blue print), three roller printed silk chiffon scarves (navy blue, rose, and black) that are truly beautiful and two cheap bags made in India for my nieces. The nice lady gave me a 10% discount and advised me to go back to Little India as gold was now S$16 per ounce down from S$18 it was recently. I might just consider that.

I took that taxi back to my hotel and decided to rest my back this afternoon. I took a hot bath and my back really hurt.

I could hear music from my room. I went out to investigate and found a band shell in the Botanical Garden offering Free Jazz in the Park. The band was from the US and was very good. I sat on the grass and listened as I enjoy jazz.

Then I crossed the street to the Tanglin Mall (decked out for Christmas as in the picture) and bought Panadol (Tylenol for those of you from the US – see my background in pharmaceuticals comes in handy now and then) for my back. While in the mall I had chicken and rice in a clay pot. It was so-so as one might expect from mall food. It had something unidentifiable in it. The place was mobbed and most of the people were eating noodles from steel pots, and theirs had unidentifiable stuff in it too (only fair).

I bought groceries, fruit and cookies. This store has gala apples, but then on second thought of course they do, galas come from Australia. The selection is better than at home: OB tampons, Friskies buffet, you name it (varieties of feminine hygiene products and pet foods are my arbitrary measure of sophistication of grocery store products when I am on the road). Plus they had Asian and European brands not available at home. There was one display case just for lox.

That night, I took a gram of Panadol and slept like a baby.