Thursday, February 4, 2016

Did I mention, it's hot in Singapore?

It’s hot here in Singapore, all the time. And we are told that this is the cooler time of
the year. Today’s high is 88 degrees, which sounds bad enough, but the humidity is 84%, and that makes it feel bloody hot. When you go outside and move around a little, you sweat. Katie and I try to get out and go somewhere every day. We live about a mile from the MRT station and we’re sticky hot and dripping by the time we walk over there. The MRT is air conditioned, in fact most public and private places are.  When we’re all jammed in you’d think it would smell like a gym locker, but it doesn’t. We’re told we will get used to the heat, but after being here three weeks, we still seem to be in the “put on a brave face and tolerate the heat” mode.

This is the 2nd most densely populated sovereign country in the world. There are 5.5
million people living here, and when Katie and I are out amongst them, we seem to be the only ones bothered by the heat, and many of the women are wearing head scarves.  The land area is 239 square miles and growing. The government is in a constant state of land reclamation, creating land where there used to be water. The smallest and one of America's densest states, Delaware, is 1,212 square miles with a population of 1 million 50 thousand people. I don’t suppose Delaware people smell too bad either, but I’m just guessing.

Raffles Hotel opened in 1887
Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles established a trading post here for the East Indian Company. In 1942 the Japanese defeated the British and took over the island until the end of the war in 1945 and Singapore went back to being under British rule. In 1963 Singapore merged with Malaysia, but broke away and gained independence in 1965.

Chinatown all decked out for Chinese New Year
80% of the people here are Chinese, 13% are Malays, 9% are East Indians. The dominant Caucasian presence here is from Australia. People are friendly and if I start talking to someone on the street, they usually ask me if I’m from Australia. America’s presence here seems minimal but McDonalds, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Starbucks are quite popular and there are quite a few American brand stores in the malls.    

Standing in line for a kopi
One would be hard pressed to get a good bagel here, in fact, I haven’t even found a bad bagel. I had to go to a pharmacy to find Splenda. Singaporeans like sugary drinks.  I’m quite fond of their iced coffees. In Singlish, coffee is called “kopi”. It’s made with sweetened condensed milk and it’s delicious.  My favorite kopi place is Toast Box. There’s one at the mall near us and when I’m sipping on an iced kopi in their air conditioning, I can almost forget about the oppressive heat outside.

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