Saturday, March 12, 2016

Freezing at the Movies

We look for air conditioned activities to do here in Singapore. The heat and humidity are constant and even a little bit of physical exertion precipitates our sweating like a couple of race horses. Everywhere on the island there are huge mall complexes and you can go to multiple malls by walking over or under streets never leaving the “air-con”. The malls are always bustling with people. With nearly six million people on this small island, almost everywhere is bustling with people.

At this stage of my life shopping is not a high priority and malls in general contain very little merchandise that I am interested in.  I have enough clothes, I don’t need any more gadgets to confuse me and I am not interested in lugging home a bunch of souvenirs that will end up collecting dust on a shelf.

Even Katie, who likes shopping, isn’t that interested in most of these stores. But she does enjoy wandering around the shops more than I do.  While she wanders, I plunk myself down in a coffee shop and read or write. I do some of my best writing in noisy coffee shops surrounded by strangers.
We both enjoy going out to the movies and many of the malls have modern cineplexes. During the day, mid-week, the theaters are not crowded and with our senior discount, a movie costs only S$4 each.  A Sing is worth 72 cents, so in US currency each ticket is $2.88. 

Like most public places here, the movie theaters are clean, comfortable and well managed. Unlike U.S. theaters, you select your seat from a chart when you buy your ticket. It’s like buying an airline ticket, you can see what seats are available and then lock them in. Then you wait in another line for food and drinks. The popcorn here is fantastic. You can chose “combination popcorn” which is a mixture of regular popcorn and caramel corn. And they will even adjust the mixture to suit your taste, more salty, less sweet or the other way around.

Katie and I left the house early the other morning. The MRT station is about a fifteen minute walk. Even at 8:30am, we had worked up a good sweat by the time we got there. We rode the air conditioned train to Holland Village, where a lot of shops cater to westerners. Our destination was the Vietnamese Embassy, a thirty minute walk from there.  We needed to pick up our visas for our upcoming trip to Vietnam. By the time we got back to Holland Village, we were dripping.
We then took the MRT to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which is a beautiful expansive park filled with all variety of tropical plants.
Our favorite area was the “Orchid Garden”. It must be orchid season, because they all seemed to be in bloom. I didn’t realize how many types of orchids there are. We wandered around for a couple hours in the gardens. Having lived in Arizona, we made sure to keep ourselves hydrated and continued on in the heat. Our theory is that at some point we’re going to become acclimated to this weather.  

We decided to take the bus downtown, have lunch and go to a movie. The bus of course was air conditioned and we cooled off. We then walked in the heat to an air conditioned restaurant, and then thankfully were able to stay in the air-con tunnels and walkways all the way to the movie theater.

I’m not sure what effect this hot/cold cycle of existence has on the body, but by the time we were settled into our seats at the theater, we had gone through it six or seven times.  

Initially the cool theater felt refreshing. As we sat in the dark happily munching on our combination popcorn and enjoying the movie, we both began to feel cold. Not just a little cold, but the bone chilling type of cold. I pulled my arms into my tee-shirt and hugged my body like a little kid who went out in the winter and forgot his jacket. I was shivering. After a while, I felt Katie trying to stick her arms in my shirt too, which didn’t work at all.

The movie was “Spotlight”, which just won the academy award for best picture and I highly recommend. I remember thinking if it hadn’t been such a good movie or it had been a movie about exploring the Arctic, we definitely would have bailed.
On the walk home from the MRT station, we again began to profusely sweat. Freezing in the movie theater had become a distant memory. The strange thing is, most of the locals here don’t seem to be affected by these extremes. Are we the only ones? But we will keep pushing ourselves in the heat, striving after the illusive theory of acclimation.

Peter, my step son, warned us about the ice cold movie theaters, but when we leave the house and enter the almost 90 degree and 90% humidity, who thinks about taking along a sweater. Hopefully, we will next time we go to the movies.