Change of Pace: A Week in a Singapore Dorm Room

After nearly 6 months of traveling through developing countries, I was headed to Singapore, the “cleanest city in the world.” The word “developing” hasn’t been used to describe this city in a long time, so I looked forward to a little change of scenery. One of my oldest friends (we were in the same third grade class) is working toward a graduate hospitality degree and was doing an exchange program in Singapore. He told me to head over for a visit, so that’s just what I did, duh. We frequented some of the nicest bars in the city and stayed in a posh hotel before he ran off to Thailand and left me in his dorm room saying “make yourself at home.”

Marina Bay Sands Skyline

Skyline with the brand spankin’ new Marina Bay Sands Resort

Now by this point, I had been traveling on a backpacker budget and the word “luxury” had all but left my vocabulary. It’s obviously not a necessity of mine and I’m fine without it, but my time in Singapore compared to the rest of my trip was like night and day. I found myself saying “It’s been awhile since I (fill in the blank)” so often that it only seemed fitting to write a post about it. So without further ado, it’s been awhile since I…

Wore pants and shoes – Northern Thailand and Laos were cool enough at night to wear pants but once we started back south again, the temperature and humidity went through the roof and stayed there. Pants hadn’t crossed my mind until they were required at the Singaporean bars we were headed to.

Did my hair – Yea, with hairspray and all. My hair usually just did whatever it felt like that day. The locals will smile and wave regardless of my appearance so I just didn’t bother. Mirrors were also surprisingly readily available. Weird. Although they were still sometimes placed a little too low on the wall for someone of, what I thought, was average height.

Flushed my toilet paper – Most bathrooms in Southeast Asia have funny signs featuring terrible grammar and a plea to not flush your TP. It clogs the pipes. Singapore? No such things. They got some first rate plumbing there.

Did my own laundry – Most hostels in Southeast Asia have cheap laundry services and even deliver your clothes neatly folded and pressed so yea, I never did it myself. That would require my scrubbing away in some sink. Not happening when I can pass those responsibilities off for a dollar. But alas, university dorms have coin laundry machines, even in Singapore.

No Motorbike Allowed Singapore

No motorbikes allowed on the sidewalk? Try enforcing that anywhere else in Southeast Asia

Seriously missed my iPhone – And by seriously I mean depressingly. Months before, my iPhone was (tragically) taken from my possession. I was coping quite well until I was constantly reminded of it while riding on the Singapore light rail. Everyone around me was fiddling away on their phone and listening to music while I sat there with longing eyes.

Took a hot shower – Thailand and Malaysia, my last few countries, were so hot that a cold shower was always welcome. Cold water was also the only thing coming out of the pipe sticking out of the wall. Singapore was just as hot outside, but air-con kept things quite cool and pleasant indoors. Hot showers were necessary.

Ate turkey – Right there on the menu it said turkey. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had forgotten that the bird existed. All chicken and some duck out here

Got lost on a college campus – Shane gave me his address, which apparently isn’t enough to find his dorm. Even fedex couldn’t find it to deliver my debit card replacement. The floors on the campus don’t start at 1 and continue up like normal buildings. They are based on their elevation and sometimes the 1st floor is actually the 4th from the ground. Whatever, I was lost and it felt like the first day of school at UCLA all over again. Where on earth is Rolfe Hall?

nanyang technological university campus

The well groomed Nanyang University campus

Bought snacks out of a vending machine – As you may have guessed, Myanmar does not have a single vending machine in the entire country. At least I’d put money on them not existing. On the other hand, dorms in Singapore do and help satisfy your midnight snack urges when staying up until 4am for the Euro Cup Final.

Was at a mall with every AmericaN fast food option – Carl’s Jr is so good. The mall also featured McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Subway and Wendy’s. I’m not used to having all those options. Usually, it’s rice, noodle or both.

Paid $20 for a cocktail – I haven’t really been frequenting classy bars on the backpacker circuit, so a few rooftop bars in Singapore where big smack in the face as far as prices are concerned. How on earth am I going to return to LA bar prices?