Sunday, September 14, 2014

Exploring Singapore: Long Day, Good Day

Hey everyone! How's your weekend going? My Saturday was long and exhausting, but TOTALLY worth it.

My school organized an event this weekend in the style of The Amazing Race, which apparently is a television show. I had neither seen nor heard of it until the other day, but now I'm kind of interested. For those of you who, like me, are generally oblivious to large portions of pop culture, the idea of the show (and, subsequently, our event yesterday) is that people get sent all over the country/continent/world in a race where you're scored on your time and your completion of challenges. It tests navigation, teamwork, leadership and... adventure skills, I guess. In a word, it is FUN. I may be biased because my group won the race, but hey, I'm pretty sure it wasn't just us that had an amazing time!

Admittedly, I did not want to participate in the beginning. I wanted to sleep in and explore on my own and I thought the event would result in a bunch of confusion and/or frustration. Instead, it turned out to be a pretty inspiring adventure, and I got to know a bunch of people that I hadn't really talked to before.

 My team was sent first to the food court at Chinatown. Our mission was to procure food from several different cultures and then eat it... but not by ourselves. That is to say, if we wanted to eat, we had to ask someone else in the group to feed us. As you can imagine, this made for an incredibly awkward lunch and some lovely pictures, which I won't post here in order to preserve the dignity of my classmates. :P

The cool thing about this challenge, though, is that none of us had visited Chinatown yet, and though we were rushing through in order to beat the clock, we had enough time to look around us in awe.

 This is what a lot of the food stalls looked like...

 

I'm scared to buy anything that looks so much like it could walk off my plate, but there were so many other food options I didn't have to worry. After gathering a variety of meat, rice, soup, noodles, fruit and muffins we ate at some tables near this religious altar, complete with dozens of small offerings and smoking incense. 



Then we headed out to explore the rest of Chinatown! Well, really we ran around asking people for help finding answers to questions in our Amazing Race packet... I definitely want to come back and spend more time here!


This tall building reminded me of being in Chongqing, what with all the clotheslines poking out of the window.




Oh, and I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THESE ARE.


It's funny... I've been to Chinatown in Seattle, New York, San Francisco and Singapore (plus I've actually been to China) and it amazes me how different each one is. The one in Seattle is reminiscent of Beijing, whereas the one here has a distinctly Singaporean feel, almost like it should be on the harbor. We found out through asking our Amazing Race questions that a while ago lots of unmarried Chinese came over to work and sent money back home, and I think that's how Chinatown became a thing here. This might not be entirely accurate as we had to translate the story from Mandarin and I'm relating it several steps later... but that was my understanding. Also that cows were important because they used them to pull carts and cross the river.

Anyways. One of our last challenges was to take pictures in a few places around town (during which time we ran through the streets yelling things like "WE ONLY HAVE 10 MINUTES" and thrusting our camera into the hands of confused passerby so they'd take our pictures). This one's at the Singapore Art Museum (called SAM just like the Seattle Art Museum I'm familiar with). I want to go and actually look inside next time!



Then we had to go to this super cool church-type thing with a bunch of fountains and pretty decorations.. At this point we had about 5 minutes to run around the building, back down the street and get on the MRT (subway), so I didn't get great pictures, but it was a beautiful structure.


So that was The Amazing Race! Well, there were a few more challenges once we got back to campus, but we got there on time and did well on the challenges (remember? we won!) and were then served a bunch of awesome food. Broke college students + free, delicious food = awesome.
 
Even though we were exhausted from the morning, my friend Noli and decided to go out clubbing later in the evening. Neither of us had ever gone, and we thought it might be fun. A lot of people were headed to a big beach party at Sentosa, but the entry price was S$42 and there was no way I was spending that much money in one night. At least not for a party. Instead, we joined some other girls who were headed to ladies' night at Mansion, a club near Marina Bay Sands. We got there a little too early and had to wait for people to show up and start dancing (note to self: don't go clubbing until after 11), and this is what it looked like.


Once people actually showed up and everyone got on the dance floor, the lights and music got crazier and we just danced for hours. Because of the whole ladies' night deal we got free drink tickets and used them on these sweet blue cocktails- this whole thing was especially bizarre for me, because most of my friends came from countries where it's legal to do all this at 18 and in the US you're not allowed until you're 21. That doesn't mean people don't sneak in and stuff back home, but it was oddly freeing to show my passport and be ushered directly in!

Noli and I got tired around 2am and headed out. We freed our blistered feet from our heels and walked along the waterfront in search of food before quitting and hailing a cab. We got in still barefoot. This is the great thing about Singapore- back home, I would not walk around the city at 2 am with no shoes. But in Singapore, everyone seems to be still out and doing things (even when we got back to campus, people were still up doing homework, eating, talking with friends or whatever) and it feels totally safe. You don't have to worry about stepping on glass shards or anything, because it's so damn clean. The waterfront was beautiful as well- and we could hear the music from the club on top of Marina Bay Sands even from this vantage point...


See? Beautiful waterfront at night.


After running around the city all day and then dancing into the night, I fell asleep almost immediately. But not before I decided that sometimes it's nice to be so exhausted- sometimes those moments are how you know you're really living. :)

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