Saturday, 15 August 2009

Seventh month, Asian 'summer'

This month, we have mostly been enjoying our Asian 'summer' holidays. Whilst the tropical seasons speak of 'dry' or 'wet', international companies remain affected by the temperate seasons such that the end of June, July, August and the beginning of September are relatively quiet times. So, we have been taking full advantage and enjoying ourselves to the max:

- Living it up in London (and realising how much we love our lives in Sin City).

- Banging around Bangkok.

- Kicking back in Kota Kinabalu.

- Fully embracing the new nightclub, Stereolab. With a music policy focused on good quality international house DJs and a custom built soundsystem that offers an all-encompassing musical hug, it's possible that the brains behind Cafe Hacienda at Dempsey have got another 'full house'. It is the first club in Singapore to host a DJ from an international record label to perform weekly and with a capacity of only 300, is the perfect size for little red dot clubbing.

Dennis Ferrer gets a bead on boogeying to his beats

- Continuing to enjoy the delicate nuances of Singlish:

In other news, here are some 'slow burn' items:

- Taxi drivers. Lately, we have been subjected to some really 'goondu' taxi drivers. Granted, taxis in Singapore are far cheaper than in London and it is rather fun bouncing around on the super springy seats. It is less fun when after clearly enunciating your destination, you hear the dreaded words: "You teach me; I dun no". On a world map, Singapore can be covered by a chunky choc chip cookie crumb. It is quite beyond me how the taxi drivers are unfamiliar with roads and routes. One particular 'missed-my-calling-as-a-bin-man' taxi driver had to be directed between Tiong Bahru and Dhoby Ghaut - a journey of approximately 4.5 km (2.8 miles). Next time, I'll just offer to take the keys and self-drive to my destination.

- Acronyms. So as not to lose out on too much speaking time, Singaporeans have a love of shortening. I am all for avoiding long-winded speech, but too many acronyms spoil society's broth and make the basic understanding of how stuff works largely impenetrable to the uninitiated. For example,

"When I am not taking the MRT, I enjoy travelling on the PIE, ECP, AYE and CTE but I have to pay the ERP to my taxi driver uncle from the HDB heartlands."

Say what? It cheers me that the top dogs at Talking Cock have come up with new meanings for all these acronyms; my personal favourite being 'Single, Desperate and Ugly' for SDU (the government matchmaking organisation "on a mission of promoting marriage among singles and inculcating positive attitudes towards marriage among all singles in Singapore"). Good luck with that.

- Track rage on the MRT.

A Happy Journey Starts Like That!

Despite the overhead monitors blaring out Phua Chu Kang ("PCK")'s 'yoof' education video on constant repeat and each station itself being adorned with the corresponding "Don't Play Play, Let Me Come Out First" posters, I actually find the most irritating members of the travelling public are the 'aunties'. Their particularly dismaying rush-hour habits include:

1. Boarding before others have disembarked;
2. Boarding, taking two steps and turning round to secure their spot near the doors;
3. Shuffling their way to the front in a packed train to ensure that they disembark first;
4. Placing their whole handbag on the EZ-link card reader in the vain hope that it will locate their card in the depths of their bag and then looking surprised when it doesn't work; and
5. Slowly pausing to check their card balance when they are aware of the hordes of other people also trying to exit that lane.

A new advertising campaign needs to target those five specific behaviours with less rapping and chastising of young people, and more public humiliation of the aunties and uncles of Sin City. I would happily star as the MRT Grim Reaper. Death to all those who stand in my way.

To round off the 'summer', we have another weekend in Bali (this time, Nusa Lembongan), a party on Rawa, my 30th birthday in Tokyo, and then Lombok and Koh Phangan before the New Year (which will also likely be spent on some Asian escapade outside of this fair isle).

We have been advised by friends who have been here for some time that Singapore is nothing short of a nightmare (not dissimilar to central London) at the end of year celebrations - bars and clubs packed to the rafters, impossible to get a drink and facing the strong possibility of having to sleep in the flower bed of Old Parliament House due to lack of a homeward bound taxi. Nice.

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