Thursday, November 22, 2007

Singapore: Death to Gum Chewers; Welcome to the West

To get to Australia, I flew from Phnom Penh to Singapore, where I had a 7-hour stop over.

The Singapore airport provided me with a lot of firsts:
- first Christmas decorations
- first time I've seen three armed police patrolling around with automatic weapons and long, nasty looking filleting knives.
- free Internet terminals (some let you stay on as long as you wanted. unfortunately, there were no chairs and you had to stand; basically you could stay on the Internet for as long you could stand up.)
- free foot massage machines: you sit down and put your feet into a large plastic box. Each foot gets its own slot in the box. I didn't enjoy the massage that much. It felt like someone was whacking the bottoms of my feet with a ballpeen hammer -- and I had the machine set to its lowest setting. It was a little rough for my soft Western feet and I couldn't wait for the 10-minute massage to be over.
- on the immigration card to Singapore, it clearly states that the country inflicts the death penalty on drug traffickers.
- the sundry goods store had a sign stating that it doesn not sell chewing gum. The counter person said that chewing gum is not allowed in Singapore. I was afraid to ask what the penalty was for chewing gum traffickers.

On a personal note, I found myself getting annoyed with the people around me. They were all speaking English and blabbing on their cell phones, conducting business transactions. At least in Vietnam and Cambodia, I couldn't understand the language so other people's conversations were unintrusive, kind of like white noise.