I did so many things today!
First I walked around Little India as planned. There are lots of great looking Indian grocery markets on the street leading from the MRT stop into the Little India neighborhood, and then the main thoroughfare is packed with shops selling fabric, jewelry, and miscellaneous useful stuff. I accomplished my number one priority, which was buying a watch (actually I, uh, bought two, but I spent less than $10! So there! Little India = the place where Singapore actually isn't expensive, I guess).
I also grabbed lunch in the neighborhood at this crazy looking place called the Jungle Tandoor Restaurant. This restaurant looked exciting and rainforesty from the outside... and inside it was completely decked out in fake foliage and animals.
And I did not even remember to capture the elephant in the near right corner
or the giraffes in the near left!
I was the only patron in there for the first fifteen minutes, and I ordered aloo jeera heeng, which I had no idea what that was but it was cheap and turned out to be delicious potatoes in curry paste and lemongrass. And a really nice mug of tea!
After that I hopped on the MRT to the Somerset/Orchard area, which Cheryl had mentioned was fun to walk around and had great stores. By "great stores" it turns out she meant so many extremely expensive designer stores in a few blocks that it faaaaaaar outstrips Manhattan's 5th Avenue designery stretch. And yet somehow every store was still huge. I don't fully grasp how that worked, geographically, but somehow it does. Anyway it was pretty interesting to see! And a bunch of them had strange large Christmas trees/displays. Also, violet perfume totally smells how Neuhaus' violet chocolate truffle tastes, aka super weird and I am still confused about if I like it or not.
Somehow I don't think this Christmas tree comes off quite as weird in thei picture
as it did in person.
And after that, I hopped back on the MRT to the Botanic Gardens! The Singapore Botanic Gardens are extensive and free. I walked around them for a little over an hour and probably covered about one third of the paths, but then I got hungry and my feet hurt so I decided to head home. Plus, my camera battery had died, so I want to go back anyway to finish seeing it and to take pictures!
Meanwhile, thoughts about Singapore:
Maybe it's more like DC than NYC? Maybe I just think that because it's so clean. Seriously, things being clean makes more of a difference to the overall feel of the city than I expected it to. I keep thinking everyone is fancy and then looking carefully and seeing that they're not any fancier than people in New York, it's just that they're in a clean environment. In fact, they're probably a little less fancy than people in New York, overall. I spent a few weeks once in NYC noticing that literally every single set of women's toenails that I saw was painted. I mean, I started feeling like leaving the house in sandals and unpolished toes was like leaving the house topless or something. In Singapore, some women's toenails are painted and some are not.
The MRT is more extensive and involves less hustling around than the DC subway system, but is cleaner and easier to navigate than the NYC subway system. Also, it is a monorail or something, so where the doors land is completely consistent, and the ride is so smooth that no one hangs on to the straps. After one day of navigating the system on my own, I have almost a complete image of the subway map in my head, and sort of feel like I could get myself anywhere in the city very easily. I'm sure that feeling is somewhat deceptive; for one thing, I haven't been able to find an adequate Singapore map anywhere, so there must be stuff that's just not on the transit map. Googlemaps, here I come :p Also, I've noticed recently that NYC has one of the few metro maps that includes significant amounts of streets/street names on it in addition to the pure train lines. It's really a brilliant idea and I don't know why more cities don't do it, since it means that you can be hopping around the city, decide to go somewhere, and figure out where to get off the train even if you're not sure off the top of your head which stop is near where you want to go, or even where precisely those streets/that neighborhood is that you're looking for.
Also, everyone is pretty darn friendly, and also everyone stands on the escalator but leaves a clear path for the almost nonexistent people who want to walk. Which is the opposite of New York, where lots of people are in a hurry but no one cares about leaving a lane, and I chronically come up behind people and shout, "EXCUSE ME!!!"
Anyway, those are my first impressions of Singapore! Pics to come on facebook :) And tomorrow afternoon, I fly to Bali! Woooo! I AM BEING SO INTERNATIONAL Y'ALL.