Monday, September 26, 2011

Singappalling



Do you see what I did there?

There might not be much to see or do in Singapore, but this peculiarly well-ordered city is an oasis amidst the chaos of South East Asia. With its wealth of cheap food options and modern facilities, this place has become my base on this side of the world.

But saying all that, some of it's fucking shit.


Long John Silver's,
Victoria Street




This seems to be a chain, though I can't say I've seen any other 'restaurants' of its ilk elsewhere in Singapore, or anywhere else for that matter. There are probably obvious reasons for this.

Nestled between the internationally recognised Burger King and KFC, most Singaporeans are evidently too fashion-conscious to be seen in this third-rate fast food option.

Long John Silver feels like a slightly inappropriate choice for a family restaurant mascot - I know he was a sea-cook, but that was before he led a mutiny, shot poor Tom in the back, dangled Kermit over a cliff and tried to groom a young Kevin Bishop. But wait a minute... who the hell's this?




That isn't Long John Silver! Who does their research? Long John was a notorious, one-legged, parrot-shouldered pirate. This guy isn't even Captain Birdseye.

Speaking of the good captain, their menu seems basically to consist of defrosted Birdseye chicken dippers. They give you a knife and fork in a desperate attempt at sophistication, but like Wimpy it's not fooling anyone.

If one item on this menu sums up their aesthetic, it's the battered prawns. Why would anyone in their right mind batter prawns? Would you creosote the Alamo? Would you digitally remaster Star Wars?




When I say 'prawns,' I'm not talking about those little pink guys we're familiar within the UK, that Marks & Spencer smothers in mayonnaise and packs between two slices of bread. I'm talking about those massive prawns they have down here, which always symbolised luxury to me as a child (I had fairly low standards - I once famously ate a box of McCain Micro Chips for Christmas dinner, because I didn't fancy that turkey and vegetable rubbish the adults were eating. 28 years old I was).

Can you smell what Long John is cooking? No, because that isn't Long John Silver, clearly.


Haw Par Villa,
Buona Vista




I've written about this curious monstrosity before, which is rightly praised (perhaps underappreciated) for its brilliant Ten Courts of Hell exhibit. I'm an atheist, but even I'd think twice before wasting food or disrespecting my elders after seeing what might await me down below.

But the rest of this attraction is just bloody awful - sometimes amusingly, other times sickeningly. Ugly dioramas and grotesque statues depict characters and tales from Chinese mythology without any explanations for the uninitiated - this seems to have been built as a place for paranoid Chinese immigrants to take their grandchildren in the hope of instructing them in their outdated cultural beliefs.

If I was a Chinese kid and my granddad tried to teach me about my heritage by shoving a melty tiger in my face, I might consider converting to one of Singapore's other well-represented religions. You don't get topless, pubey pig-men in the Hindu Vedas. Actually, you probably do.


Spitting



Disgusting bathroom flob


Singapore's tyrannical laws have sorted out many of the annoyances of Asian countries, like the irresponsible driving and abundance of litter, but despite penalties apparently being imposed for spitting, people still desposit these disgusting, foamy jellyfish far and wide.

Chinese, Malay and Indian Singaporeans are all up to it. It's disgusting. I appreciate that it might not be a pleasant sensation to re-swallow a mouthful of gob, but it wouldn't be there in the first place if you didn't put such effort into haaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwkkkkkkkking it up.

I know this happens in the UK too, I'm not some deluded colonialist. Well, not much. My view of England is generally more shit-smeared than rose-tinted anyway. Those people are nuisances, but here it's an epidemic.


Untouchable politics



Go back into the mall, Singaporeans - nothing to see out here


Singapore has a presidential election earlier this month in a tensely fought battle, despite the widely known fact that the office of the president has no actual power. That power would belong to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, son of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and wealthy owner of investment company Temasek Holdings. But if you think there's anything a little dodgy about that, you should probably keep it to yourself. It's probably for the best that I'm leaving the country today.

This intolerance for any kind of public debate is probably the worst aspect of Singapore's politics. Not that you'd know if the people were dissatisfied, with protests being banned and political media coverage being nothing but complimentary. It's almost as bad as Thailand. You know, in case I haven't offended enough nationalities yet.

And although Singapore may be ahead of a few other Asian countries when it comes to civil rights, homosexuality is still technically illegal between men, but (according to Wikipedia anyway) it's fine between women... well, that's not really 'gay' is it? I saw a documentary once, and apparently all cheerleaders and sexy teachers get up to it.

I do support the unpopular prohibition of chewing gum though. Singaporeans leave enough sputum lying around without giving them ammunition, and they shouldn't be allowed to play with big boy toys until they can be trusted to tidy away properly.


Maids




Singapore families generally employ maids to take care of those annoying everyday tasks that get in the way of their important working lives, like cleaning and raising children. While it's good that there are plenty of job opportunities for foreign workers - mainly from the Philippines, it seems - I don't like the attitude. And it's pretty clear that these immigrants are getting a bum deal, even if they're earning more than they could back home.

I'm not a family person at all, and I can understand why you wouldn't want to have to deal with soiled underwear and tantrums. Not to mention that most kids are really childish - grow up, will you? But if you have a kid, wouldn't you want to spend time with them, rather than trusting their upbringing to staff who vanish from their lives without a trace once their maid visa expires?

Apparently, this is even more prevalent in Hong Kong, as is the spitting. So I guess I'll have to take my inflated, arrogant, colonialist values over there too. Get ready Asia, I'm going to clean up this town.

2 comments:

  1. Forgot to mention all the people in the National Library study room who disregard instructions not to reserve seats, and just leave their laptops and notebooks there for hours. And the old men who use library seats as beds and snore loudly while I'm trying to read about astronomy.

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  2. Someone pointed out this post as evidence that I was unhappy in Singapore, which isn't true - for balance, I also wrote about things I like in Singapore.

    It's also important to note that I wrote posts about things that pissed me off in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Egypt, Israel, Greece and Italy.

    Or, more simply, every country I've been to. I don't have anything against these countries, just the pesky human race in general. Which probably just makes me look more unpleasant than if I hadn't pointed this out.

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