1 May 2013
We arrived in Singapore on
29 April, about 9:30 PM - and really managed to rush through Customs and
Immigration, collect our luggage, and find a shuttle bus that took us
straight to our hotel.
it was an incredibly modern and beautiful airport, with a most
intriguing "sculpture." You know how some fountains go up and down with
a variety of configurations in accompaniment to music? This sculpture
of amber-colored glass droplets moved up and down on monofilament, in
time to the music! It was absolutely mesmerizing, and gorgeous! I
could have watched it for hours - and probably will, in two weeks, when
we leave Singapore. It really was so unique, and relaxing, and I have
no idea how they do this!
Anyway, we arrived at our hotel. Found our room. It was maybe 10:30 Singapore time, which made it midnight Darwin time - so I was ready to fall into bed. But Richard was thirsty, and went out to find a cold drink. He came back a short while later, and reported that our neighborhood was full of pedestrians, many restaurants, and he had been propositioned a few times - yes, we're in the red light district. We knew that. We were prepared. He smiled, said no thank you, and came back to the hotel.
Next morning we get up, and head out for breakfast. We walked around our neighborhood for a bit - very mixed Malaysian/ Indian/ Chinese, with probably an emphasis on the Chinese. So the vending machines have melon juice, cold green tea, and juice by the "Heaven and Earth" company. Wouldn't you like to drink something made by Heaven and Earth?
There were little shrines in front of many of the businesses that we thought were restaurants, little red houses with small statues, fruits, cakes, incense burning. The scent of incense filled the air, and it was wonderful. I'm fascinated by these little shrines, so I took a bunch of photos of them, though I'm not sure if that's okay or not.
There were also many places with orange trees out front, often with red ribbons or tassels. I know red is the color associated with both youth and luck in many Asian cultures, so I figured this must be some symbol of luck. Or some- thing like that.
So we went on our merry way, enjoying Singapore and the vast variety of people - most of the people in this neighborhood seem to be of Chinese descent, but there are many Indian people in traditional tunics and pants (men) or saris (women). Sikhs with colorful turbans. Sri Lankan men with a T shirt and sarong. (I'm sure we saw Malaysian people, but I really don't yet recognize the difference between Malay and Chinese descent.) And my personal favorite, the Buddhist monk or novice, I'm not sure which, in saffron and maroon.
Our day continued, and turned into evening. We walked around our neighborhood as the night cooled off, and the "restaurants" opened up for the night business. We peeked inside. Yup, they aren't restaurants at all - they're brothels! Pretty young women lined up inside, lots of doors along narrow hallways, candles and incense everywhere, and huge piles of sheets (that one made us laugh!). We had a good laugh over the restaurants that turned out to be brothels!
I did ask one man outside a brothel about the shrines and pineapples - he said the pineapples are offerings to the household gods (I guess of the shrine), and the pineapple is to bring good luck. (Or, the cynical side of me says, good business.)
Somehow the idea of a shrine outside each brothel just makes me laugh!