At first, I admit I was worried. It took me a while to understand what ‘Transit rate’ means, so once I figured that out and made the connection it was somewhat spooky. There’s no other place in Singapore a guy can get a cozy TV/AC/Toilets room for this cheap, but it comes with the cost of being the only hotel guest that’s actually paying for an overnight stay. Or as the kind Malay receptionist put it – ‘it’s for those weary businessmen in a rush’. Indeed. Here I am, feeling like the only white guy in Harlem, and I like it.
It’s actually fun, since it’s also very safe and I get to learn about my fellow Singaporeans inner workings up close. I’ve heard prostitution is actually legally licensed over here so working-girls are more of a business ladies than, say, criminals. Going to visit the girls is perceived by some to be not much different then going to visit the lawyer; both will charge you a nice sum by the hour, both will give a receipt at the end and as one guy put it – ‘both will give you a good screw’. Well put.
Not too far away is the Malay Village. I still don’t get Malaysians. It’s not that there’s something different about them than the Chinese or the Indians, it’s only that I don’t understand how they came to be. Why are they Muslim? Why do they write in Roman letters? Are questions that keep bothering me while I’m enjoying their endless market. They seem like a friendly bunch, though every time I mention I’m Israeli it does bring up what I interpret as “I’m sure not I should be talking to you but you’re interesting” look. So, after a few times I converted into being an Aussie. Cheers, mates. That does seem to make matters easier.
But, Little India and China Town are the real deal.
I can’t explain it, but I have a big issue with India – it bothers me. What is there about India and Indians that makes me uncomfortable? They’re so lively and welcoming with some great food. Little India is a real live India within Singapore, with all the Sri complex named Indian temples and markets, authentic street look and smell (how do you know? You’ve never been there!) and that amazingly funny accent. I don’t know. It’s interesting, but not my cup of Masala Tea.
As for China Town, I felt like I was home. Last night I went to reunite with what I refer to as ‘my people’ in a Teresa Teng show (Link) at the up-class Espalande Theaters. Once again, I was the only white guy there, and it was awesome. Several people inquired before the show whether I like Teresa Teng to which I usually replied ‘I don’t know yet, I’ll know after the show’. Yeah, I like her a lot. Apparently she’s a popular Chinese singer from the 80s so most of the crowd was a bit older than I am, and the songs were very emotional love songs – being lonely, finding your inner passion, seeking your love (It’s weird, but even some Chinese in Singapore don’t speak Mandarin so there was English translation on the side). ‘So you like Chinese culture, ah? Why don’t you have a Chinese girlfriend?’ asked my cloak-room Chinese Singaporean small-chitchat-lady, and indeed- why don’t I?
China Town is totally magical. Visiting the Heritage Center and soaking up the atmosphere while walking the markets was an experience to remember. I would feel sad to leave this place, and I’ve actually been wondering if I should delay my ticket to Thailand. I’ve got the E-Asian addiction, that’s for sure (and it’s not only because of the gorgeous girls, but that’s a reason too).