Singapore’s letter to Indonesia must have worked, because the haze cleared up enough yesterday afternoon for us to go out without feeling like we would come home smelling like a campsite. Our first journey was right downstairs, where we met my cousin Esther. Amazingly, I have a first cousin once removed on my mother’s side who has been living in Singapore for over twenty-five years. She’s a Dutch woman who met and married a Singaporean long ago, and she’s a lot of fun.
Prescott and I then went down to Clarke Quay, which is pretty touristy but also has a lot of good restaurants. It’s also a great place for sightseeing. You have the old police station:
You have the “river cruise” boats on the Singapore River:
And though you can’t tell from the picture above, those crane-like things above Prescott’s head are actually the machinery for this crazy giant rubber band ride that flings people up into the air and bounces them around.
If you eat outdoors in the most touristy restaurants at Clarke Quay, you sit under these odd pod structures (they’re the white umbrella-like things in the photos below):
This was our view from our pod:
After dinner, Prescott went off to rehearsal while I wandered around Chinatown again. It’s quite the scene at night, especially in the heavily touristed sections.
You can buy a vast array of souvenirs there, from chopsticks to bags of tiny plastic chickens (I’m not sure how those fit into the souvenir scene) to postcards to little figurines of the Merlion. The only thing that really caught my eye were the lantern stalls:
As I wandered through dimly lit alleys, past darkened doorways, I found myself wondering at the random piles of stuff that I would stumble upon here and there. Examples include this:
And these lanterns, which were heaped in an enormous jumble on a street corner:
I also happened upon a lion dance, which probably had the best dancers I’ve ever seen (granted, my experience is limited, but I was still impressed).
Oh, and there’s this strangely named restaurant that I keep passing by. I still haven’t figured it out.
Then I went to see Prescott’s improv show — his first ever in Singapore! He performed with a short form troupe called Part II. They’re a young troupe, but they have lots of energy and enthusiasm, and it was really fun to watch.
We all went out for drinks after the show and had great conversations about improv in Singapore. The scene here is pretty new, so they were really interested in talking about new directions in which they might take their shows. We also had fascinating conversations about what you can and can’t say on stage in Singapore — if you go too far in the “wrong” direction, there’s always the risk that the government will shut your theater down. So we talked about race and sex and sexuality and nudity and politics, all risky topics around here, and it was fascinating (if a little scary and a little sad). The improv folks are hilarious and lovely.
Just after we left the bar at midnight, we saw the gates of the MRT closing. What kind of city with an amazing late-night scene and excellent public transportation closes its subway at midnight? Apparently Singapore does. Very puzzling. It’s a good thing that taxis are relatively cheap and plentiful.