(Preface : This is the first in a series of 8 parts, chronicling events and impressions from a recent trip to Singapore late last month. I'm posting this entry - and the others related to it - at this later date out of respect for the events that transpired in Manila while all this was going on. These posts contain some flippancy, aside from my usual rants, but I kept them pretty much intact because I believe that even if serious tragedies visit our lives, they cannot and should not cancel out our shallow little moments of happiness . Therefore, read if you wish, or skip if you are so inclined. )
I will be on my way to NAIA when this post gets published *, bleary-eyed and surly, on a short and unplanned weekend trip to Singapore which I'm not really excited about.
Don't get me wrong. I LIKE travel. And Singapore holds many pleasant memories for me. My father had business based there for a time and I, too, used to visit its shores frequently on my own work-related sorties. As a result, there are locals there whom I've literally known since childhood, and a gaggle of expat friends I haven't seen in a while (and probably still won't see on this trip.) And knowing my father, I probably also have an illegitimate sibling or two stashed away in Bukit Merah...somewhere.
It's been more than a good decade since I last stepped foot in Changi, so I've actually been meaning to go back and see how Singapore has changed and maybe watch the F1 races . Especially the F1 races. Two of my fellow speed demon friends had already made the pilgrimage to the nearest altar of Formula One last year, but I had been unable to join them due to work commitments.
And as though the fates listen to our idle musings, I get picked to go on a free junket. F-R-E-E. As in nothing to pay, just my time. And yet here I am, unhappy at the prospect of dragging my lazy, ungrateful ass to the airport.
While S'pore will always have a special place in my memories, it's never exactly held a fun place in my heart. My first impressions of it, years and years ago, were as follows : nice, orderly, safe, stable, sterile. And of course, terribly, terribly expensive. Yes, I was much, much younger then. Yes, I made a beeline for the local hotspots: Zouk and Velvet, both of which I'm not even sure still exist.** Yes, there wasn't exactly much of a gay nightlife back in the day, either, except for midnight trannies trolling to give blowjobs along Orchard Road and some desperate make-out spots on the artificial beaches. And yes, thanks to the times and in no small part to the net, I'm aware many things have changed since then.
No, what's bugging me is that I can't bring my ciggies into the Fine City without having to pay Customs duties*** on them. And many thanks to their new and improved Smoking Laws , I may not be able to smoke in my lovely hotel, either. Maybe not even in the privacy of my room, the horror! True, I can always buy ciggies in the local 7-11s, and there are designated smoking areas on the street, and I haven't had any trouble adhering to any foreign country's smoking ordinances. So it's not really a biggie.
I'm just in a grousing mood.
First, I can't resume demolishing my liver till next year. And now I won't be able to poison my lungs at will for three whole days.
Beyonce , you better be worth this.
*Obviously, the post didn't publish automatically and since I didn't bring my laptop to Singapore, couldn't post it from there. Out of sensitivity and respect for what went down in Manila in my absence, I decided to post this entry and the others related to it at this later time.
**Okay, I checked. They live.
***24022090 Cigarettes Excise Duties: 35.2 cents for every gram or part thereof of each stick of cigarette. Basically, you pay SD7.00 for every pack, which roughly comes out to 1USD to SD= SD1.41 x SD7 = USD9.87 x USD to PhP=47.5 = PhP468.82 for every PhP32.00 pack of cigs. In short, every pack you bring is taxed to the amount equivalent to a whole ream. Which is almost enough to make you quit smoking. Almost.