Up at 7am.
I decided that this tour group did not rank among the elite tour groups (Greece and Costa Rica) through no fault of their own...it was solely because of the unusual male/female ratio and the 13/1 Europe/North America ratio. I think I got along with the two previous groups better because of all the Americans and Canadians. The rhythm is different with limeys and micks. But the extra dudes meant more drinking, so it's a tradeoff. Also, the activity rating of the tour determines who signs up for it. I liked those brutal hikes on the last two tours. That's usually my only exercise for the year. Nevertheless, this was a great group.
We got taxis at 8am, then rode a bus from 9am to 2pm into Singapore (country #43). Singapore doesn't allow chewing gum, but I had a pack of Orbit in my bag, and the X-ray machine didn't pick it up. Groovy. I'm an international smuggler. I assume they would have simply seized it if they found it, and not caned me. Again, I had an hours-long boner on the bus ride, just from the jostling.
We arrived at the Hotel Bencoolen, which sounds almost as Jewy as the Hotel Min Good. I discovered that I'd left my iPod charger in Melaka. No worries...I think I paid $5 for it, and I got totally tired of all songs anyway on the bus.
We had lunch at the food court across from the hotel. I had pho, which was my first meal in Viet Nam in 2005 and was on my list again. Mmmmm.
At the hotel I checked the Internet...it was a coin-operated deal, 15 minutes for S$1. Lee DeWyze! That worked out. Bowersox has to do the silly tour but other than that she gets her own life back. I like her, except for the kid.
In the elevator coming down from my room, a hotel employee asked if I'd brought my girlfriend to the hotel. I said no, I was with a tour group. He said that a girlfriend is "fucking good". It was as if an angel had appeared to give me the girlfriend advice that had sort of been clarified to me in my philosophizing over the course of the tour. And then, just like that...POOF...he was gone! Because he got off on the 2nd floor and I was on 1.
I was constantly tired on this trip, and wasn't "on", so I must apologize to my tourmates who were expecting me to be funny. Blame goes to the heat, not sleeping, and lack of caffeine.
Dek took me, Becky and John on a walking tour, mostly through Little India. Amar: "We've seen so many Little Indias, we could make a Big India." True, but the one in Singapore actually felt like India. Only the 4 of us went on this walk because everyone else was staying in Singapore beyond tomorrow and had time to explore on their own. We found a Pepsi machine on our walk that dispensed small soft pieces of ice like a bowling alley soda machine. John split off at some point, and back at the the hotel Dek went out again, so that left me and Becky to check out the pool. And then I revealed to her that I was lying about having a penthouse. I need to stop being so truthful. Also I shouldn't have told her I had a whole freezer FULL of popsicles up there.
For dinner we went to another food court, and I broke down again and had fajitas. And I was talked into a margarita.
We walked around downtown, exploring the city and ultimately trying to find a bar I think. Along the way we saw kids in batting cages. Must be a baseball town.
Raffles, where the Singapore Sling was invented. Authentic ones were S$29.75 here (US$22), but the bar wasn't open till 9pm, which was after we walked by here.
Artsy pic of the skyline.
Same angle. Less artsy.
This looks like some futuristic structure from Contact. It's actually the Marina Bay Sands, opening in June. Bad timing on my part.
The Merlion. It's like a mermaid, but with a lion where the half-hottie would normally be.
Skyline. Through trial and error I can get good photos out of my camera.
Merlion and skyline.
Merlion and skyline.
Full moon over the Sands. Would be one of my nicest photos ever, if not for the focus problems resulting from using the "indoor" setting to get the lighting right.
Fiona in a hole.
Becky and Fiona in holes. Becky: "I'll get on top." HOT.
Finally, a complete group photo. Left to right: Fiona, Simon, Laura, John, Trisha, Matt, Amar, Becky, Dek, Joe, William, Elise, me, Andy, Lee.
We took forever to decide on a bar, and ultimately went to the Elephant Bar, where Amar (aka Rainier Wolfcastle, aka O ma mar mar ba ba O mar ma mar) kept shouting requests at the band. John wanted me to do standup, since there was a stage, but I reiterated that I was unprepared. Seriously, I couldn't remember what I talked about the last time I did standup May 5. It leaves my memory that fast. I had one Long Island here, but it was expensive, so we moved on.
The Austrians were intent on going to a club called Attica, which they were told was epic, but it didn't open till 1am. So we all drank outside on the bank of the river for a while. I had a margarita and 3 Singapore Slings.
I was trying to make this look even gayer than the Long Island photo from Belgrade. You be the judge.
Final photo of the group, excluding me. Dek is obscured, but he's there.
I asked Dek if we're his best group ever, and he said we're one of the best. OK, I'll take that.
Across the way there was an "Elvis Bar", which was obviously a whorehouse. Becky went over to use the toilet and her facial expression on the way out was priceless. The Austrians went over and reemerged after a few minutes, also not able to handle the place. An older couple poked their heads inside, possibly thinking it was an Elvis-themed establishment, and walked away laughing.
I was trying to get a stealth shot of the Elvis Bar, because a direct photo probably would have gotten my an ass-kicking from the pimps. I think John misinterpreted this as trying to get a pic of Fiona, which I wouldn't have to sneak, but anyway he took this one. I'm way too tan.
There you go. It was funny when the Austrians walked in and all the whores from outside followed them in.
Dek and Becky.
The Austrians left for Attica prior to 1am, which meant the group was officially broken up. I did the goodbye hugs with them. Around 1am I ended my night, because I had to get up at 6ish for a flight, and did the major round of goodbye hugs, though the moment was spoiled by Becky asking me again to do standup. Fiona led the hugs with "nice meeting you", which as I've said before is the typical ending to an Internet date that didn't go as well as I thought. This broke up the partying, and most of us walked home.
Bed 2am. Alarm set for 6:30am. I have a long flight to sleep.