Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hong Kongin and Singapore Slingin it

The struggle to reunite all 5 of us on the trip continued.  Having lost service with our phones when we went to Hong Kong, we were out of contact with Kirsti. Having miscommunicated some details, we finally met her on Saturday, a day and a half later than expected. Known for its wonderful shopping, diverse culture and modern architecture, Hong Kong has a lot to see and do. Some of the highlights of our visit included going to the “peak”, a massive mountaintop that overlooks Hong Kong. While waiting in line to buy tickets for the tram to go up the peak, there was a huge collision as one of the double decker busses came crashing down the hill, bouncing off 3 taxi cabs and veering off   the street headed directly at the crowd waiting for tickets. With a blessing from above, the bus stopped within 20 feet from the massive crowd and was about 50 feet away from me. It was like a scene out of Batman (which was filmed partly in Hong Kong) except there was no super hero to save the day.  On top of the peak, it featured a huge shopping center area with a gorgeous 360 view of Hong Kong, as well as some fancy houses.
Where the Bus Crashed
Fountain outside the Tram
Hong Kong and Chinese Flag
The city from on top of the peak

We also went to the mid level elevators, which are supposably, the longest continuous stretch of escalators in the world. Located on a hill in this ritzy shopping area, escalators after escalators lined the streets, saving you from having to walk up the hill. What comes up must also come down but unfortunately for these escalators, they only go up.

The Covered area is the escalators

   To celebrate China’s birthday and showcase the modern architecture of Hong Kong and its skyscrapers, we went to the light show by the river. For this huge show, the streets and metro were marked off and the area was packed with thousands of people. We sat with our wine and watched as the night skies lit up with an array of colorful lights from the skyscrapers. The show was topped off with a firework finale.
    Our next stop on the trip was to the small island of Singapore. Just a hop and a skip away from both Indonesia and Malaysia, Singapore is roughly 4 times the size of Washington D.C. After a 3hour flight south from Hong Kong, we arrived in Singapore. We were picked up by a wonderful driver who gave us essential a tour of the city as he took us to where we were staying, “A Beary good hostel”. Ironically enough, spending our vacation away from China, we stayed in Chinatown.
Laterns outside our Hostel

 Singapore was a very clean city, which probably could be linked to that fact that you can get a fine for almost anything.  Forget to put the lid down on the toilet seat? No problem, you won’t forget next time because you will have spent $500 to remind you. Want to Jaywalk? That will only cost you $300. What about eat or drink on the subway?  Just a measly $1000. But wait there is more, if you can’t control that urge to smoke in the designated for a limited time only, at the cost of $2000, you can do it!
One of the many funny cartoon signs

     We went to the world’s first night safari, which was essentially going to the zoo at night and riding a tram around to see the animals. Unfortunately to protect the environment of the animals no pictures could be taken with flash, which defeats the purpose of taking pictures at night. The night was highlighted with the fire dance performance. As half naked muscular men danced around with fire and did tribal dances, it created quite the crowd obviously. Standing in the front right next to the barrier taking pictures to document the experience, one of the men was searching for a participant for the next act.  Walking towards our direction Kirsti began to freak out thinking that she would be picked. Oblivious to what was about to happen next I laughed at her as she acted like a little girl. Searching for someone who could get the crowd pumped up and be the main event of the show, the man stopped right in front of us. Who did he pick? None other than yours truly. If that wasn’t a shock in itself.  They made me take off my bag and shirt and join the half naked Asian club, which made the crowd hoot and holler. Once on stage I had to do a little jig and then follow the lead of one of the guys and blow out a lit torch. Unable to do so, as performers laughed and tried to make fun of me in a jokingly manor, as they say in the show business “The Show must go on” in a attempt to redeem myself and win back the crowd. I took my torch and did a show of my own. Like a ninja I jumped off a rock and swung the torch like it was my numb chucks. After about a 30 second performance I ended it with a few of roundhouse kicks and tossing the torch in the air. After I threw in my audible into the performance, which caught everyone by surprise, we carried on with the show.

         The layout of Singapore has been very will thought through. With the nice mixture of greenery and buildings the city flows very nicely together. The taxi driver even said that the streets by the airport were built specifically to be turned into an emergency landing strip if need be in a matter of 30 minutes, which is quite impressive. Even the trees were planted accordingly.

During our short trip in Singapore, we were able to cover quite a bit; we visited the Asian Civilians museum, went to little India and hiked through the Bukit Nature reserve, which was a rainforest, filled with monkeys and other wild animals. As well as walk around the city explored the city. One of the spots we tried to visit was the presidential palace but was unable to do so. Upon our arrival to Singapore, the wife of Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Kwa Geok Choo passed away. A very knowledgeable woman, she was a Queen’s Scholar at Cambridge University and graduated first in her class, with her future husband, the Prime Minister being second. Like they say, if you can’t beat them, join them. With thousands of people paying honor to her, the palace was under tight security as the lines went around a few blocks.
Known for the wonderful food and of course the Singapore Sling, an adult beverage that became a worldwide sensation, Singapore offered delicious meals for a very low price. While the food was very cheap everything else was expensive. I tried for the first time ever Shark fin soup, while I hate to say it, it was pretty tasty. My heart was won over on our second to last night, when we went out for a fancy dinner and all had the traditional Chili crab. Quoted as a “small crab”, I would hate to see what a big one looked like. Although it cost an arm in a leg, it was very delicious and well worth it.
Chili Crab
Singapore Sling
Exclusive Mega Mac, Can't find these in the states

Only the Strong can Squat
Overall, I had a wonderful  trip. I was able to continue my travels and see the world, while  clearing  my mind of working and school.

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