Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'm in Singapore.

It's actually over ten years since I was here, properly. I lived/worked here (like a downtown live/work space), as well as Hong Kong, Bangkok and Jakarta, a few years back. And of course I've travelled in South East Asia more recently.

But I'd forgotten about the peculiarities (in a good way) of Asian culture. And also, how damned humid it is. L'havdil, but when I go in the Costbux in Golders Green, which has something of an unresolved damp problem, I always think, I'm immediately transported back. You know how smells/tastes can trigger a memory? So that damp, hot feeling, kinda like an overwarm swimming pool, and certainly like a sauna? That's what makes me think of the intense humidity of Singapore.

And I'm back. Boy, is it different. When I lived here, I was like a local, living in a rented apartment in Victoria Street, the only white person for miles (so taxi drivers would regularly tell me), so I had a much more... local experience. Now I'm all high rise hotels, shopping centres, aircon (my first apartment had no aircon, but I soon resolved that with my then-MD).

Guess what? They have Starbucks, and Betty Barclay and "James Tyrwhitt of London England" shirts. There used to be (still is?) The Economist Big Mac index, benchmarking local costs market by market. Personally, I used to go on contact lense solution. Although that was before the bad-for-the-planet, good-for-your-eyes daily disposables. Now, it's the price of a tall skinny caramel machiato - $5.80- Sing dollar, about £1.90. So a better deal.

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