Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Disneyland with the Death Penalty

As mentioned, I'll still try to keep a Georgian feeling rolling around on this blog, but since I couldn't find a Georgian Orthodox Church in Singapore, this Armenian Church will have to do.

I can't take credit for the title's description of Singapore, as it came from science-fiction writer William Gibson (who also kindly described this city-state as the 'world's only shopping mall with a seat in the United Nations'). But I can't say I don't agree with it.

This place is like a mixture of South Beach and Las Vegas placed at the Southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It's weird. There are tons of franchised restaurants (especially along the river walk, which eerily reminds me any city in Florida near water, which is basically all of them). I mean, there's a Hooters here for Christ's sake. You're bombarded by everyone and anyone trying to sell you this tour or that tour, while the alcohol is far too expensive.

I've never been to Vegas, but I know what I do and don't like at this stage in my life, and from everything I've heard about Vegas, I'd take Charleston, SC over 'Sin City' any day of the week. To my untrained eye, Singapore seems a lot like Vegas in the sense that it would be fun if I had a ton of money, was traveling with five of my good buddies, and lacked a sense of dignity. Fortunately, I'm not there yet.

There are some things I really like about the city. It's easily walkable with what is widely considered the best public transportation in the world (although we didn't even get to use it today since we never had to). It's strikingly clean, which is mostly due to the harsh fines levied for anything from spitting to chewing gum. It's got a diverse culture with a deep history (what the hell is an Armenian Church doing in Singapore?). The food, when you get away from the tourist traps, is ridiculous... I'm going to hold off on the topic of food and how it compares to Georgian food for a little while, but I've never been in love with Georgian Cuisine, while I'm a spice, noodles, and seafood fiend. But to top it all off, I'm with my Mother, who I haven't spent a significant amount of time with in far too long. There's certainly a lot I've been happy about since I left Tbilisi on Monday evening.

I'm only here for another half of a day, which would make a little less than 48 hours (awesome movie by the way). I never like to make too harsh of a judgement on a place based on just two days, and a lot can go into a first impressions, especially the weather (this place is humid to an insufferable point, while it's been overcast since I got here). I'm sure if I had more time to spend here and maybe knew someone who had the lay of the land, I would lighten my criticism. After all, the list of places I truly despise can pretty much be narrowed down to the confines of West Virginia.

But I usually fall for anything new, which kind of explains my weird affinity for Georgia (the fact that Georgia keeps surprising me is probably what keeps the affair going). So the fact that I never really felt all that amazed by Singapore kind of struck me as odd. Then I realized that this place didn't feel all that different from a place I have been before: Downtown Disney.

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