FOMO. It’s plagued me my entire life, and I’m finally coming to grips with this terminal diagnosis. I have the Fear Of Missing Out. It’s why I don’t sleep at night, and why I am habitually 15 minutes early to everything. It’s been the cause of many fights with boyfriends and the reason I got grounded 99% of the time as a teenager. It’s why I grocery shop at 5 am in case there’s an event at 5 pm, and why everywhere I go there’s someone I know. If there is fun to be had, and I know about it, I will do ANYTHING to be part of it.
So you can imagine, that when my friend Ryan Wildberger (from here on out he’ll be known as Berg, because that’s the only moniker I’ve ever known him by) told me about his adventures living in Singapore, that tiny little hamster wheel in my brain started turning. PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD WERE HAVING FUN WITHOUT ME. It consumed my thoughts. It was the theme of my dreams. It was going to happen.
After a few date changes, a nutty breakup and some serious itinerary planning, I booked my flights to Singapore, Thailand and the Batam Islands in Indonesia. 11 days. 3 continents. 5 countries. 1 blonde. Endless fun.
If you’ve ever spent even a smidgen of time with me, you know that I’m a serious planner and have something that my therapist likes to call “control issues”. I don’t lose my keys, I always know where my wallet is, and I’ve never left my credit card at a bar (until this past weekend, but thankfully they overnighted a new card to me, but that story is neither here nor there). I pencil showers into my calendar and like to follow my daily schedule to a tee (or is it tea? Or maybe just T? And what does that phrase even mean?) I spent hours researching and planning the perfect itinerary. I packed a week in advance. I sent every important legal document to my mother in case of emergency. The “Five P’s” were covered. Perfect planning prevents poor performance. I was ready for this trip. So today, I was all set to go. My dear friend Hoff picked me up from my house, we chomped on some sushi and he dropped me off at Terminal E.
I waltzed my happy butt up to the security line, and was “greeted” (that’s being generous) by a less than pleasant woman who is definitely good at doing her job. That is, if her job is to throw a wrench in my travel plans. I showed her my passport and boarding pass and she looks at me and says, “you can’t come through here.” OH REALLY. “Your bag is too big”, she barks at me.
Let me tell y’all this- my bag was not too big. I have flown internationally with this suitcase before, and I didn’t even have to open the big zipper this time. I can lift that piece of luggage with one hand (and I have no muscle, just ask the trainer at my gym). I shoved it into the box outside the security line with a less than stellar attitude, and grinned at her like an idiot. “The wheels are too big.” SERIOUSLY LADY. Not wanting to get kicked out of the airport before I even entered, I smiled and made my way over to the check-in, where I checked a bag for the first time in YEARS. Apparently you can’t plan your way past the TSA.
It’s not even that I NEED anything in that bag. The only thing I NEED want is my prescription for Ambien, my WISP’s (no one wants to sit next to someone for 12 hours that has stinky whale shaped drool and won’t wake up because she took said sleeping aid), and a print out of my 9 page single-spaced itinerary. I’m cool with being smelly, naked, and make-up free. But it hurts me to my core that I meticulously planned, only to lose. And it is losing. 4 years ago on a flight to New York that went ridiculously awry, I made a spreadsheet of the amount of time you WASTE checking a bag. Domestically, it’s roughly an hour per flight. PER FLIGHT. Internationally it’s an hour and a half per flight, depending on how familiar you are with the native language of your destination. And if the airline misplaces your bag? TWO HOURS per flight. That’s four hours of your life, you are NOT getting back. Do you know what I could do with FOUR HOURS? (If we’re being honest, I’d probably just go to a baseball game, but I could do other things with that much time) Needless to say, I was not thrilled.
After I pawned my bag off to person who’s first initial was B (apparently United is getting smarter and conceal their first names so they don’t have to fire every airline employee when people complain), I mosey-ed to the United Club, where I’m certain my first, second, and third ex-husbands were camped out nursing a beverage and nuts (cashews, get your mind out of the gutter). Since I showered today, most notably a robust 5’2” man who walked up and said “This is not a line, but are you from Pittsburgh” hit me on multiple times? (If you have to preface anything with “this is not a line”, then it is definitely a line). I politely chatted with him and started back to writing.
Right around the time I started thinking that I was Miss Thang, I attempted to get up and grab my final drink from the bar (it would have been my third in a matter of a few hours). I say attempted, because I stood up and buckled, knocking over a stool at a bar height table. The man next to me rushed to help me, and as I tried to stand up again, I slammed my arm into the kind strangers suitcase and face planted. EVERYONE WAS STARING AT ME. I was mortified. There is no doubt everyone who saw what happened thought I was drunk (I was not anywhere close to being inebriated). I stood up, loudly blamed my “broken shoe” (it was definitely not my shoe, y’all) and meandered over to the bar, where I timidly ordered water with a splash of water. Moments later, I feel a hand on my shoulder and wouldn’t ya know, one of the doctors I call on (Dr. Papasakalariou and his wife Beth) are standing right there, and they saw the whole thing. They asked if I was okay (other than some seriously damaged pride, I felt fine). I would pay good money to see the security camera footage of those 5 minutes because my clumsiness made Jennifer Lawrence look like the most elegant and sure-footed woman alive.
After an uneventful boarding of the plane, I took my seat and prepared to execute my plan. You see, I have two long flights and it was pertinent to my peace of mind that I used the hours as efficiently as possible. Here was my plan:
Flight 1: Departs from Houston at 6:00 pm Wednesday and arrives in London at 9:30 am Thursday. The goal is to not sleep a wink on this flight. Read my book, watch the in-flight movie, eat dinner, write about my flight and do anything BUT sleep.
Flight 2: Departs London 10:40 am Thursday and arrives in Singapore at 7:00 am on Friday. The goal is to take an Ambien and sleep the entire time so I’m well rested when I land in Singapore.
I take a seat on Flight 1 next to a lovely Pakistani lady and take a stab at my book. About 20 minutes into the flight, I look down and realize there is no headphone jack. That means no in-flight movie for me. This makes me nervous as it boogers up my plan to stay awake. I find the flight attendant that I complemented as I was walking in (fun travel tip– always tell a flight attendant as you’re boarding a plane that you like her haircut- they eat it up and gets you an automatic friend) my predicament and that I was trying desperately not to sleep. She smiled at me and said, there were a few open seats and she’d be right back to help me. True to her word, she came right back and escorted me to business class. SCORE!
Right as I’m feeling like I’m hot stuff again (do you see a common trend here?), the man in the seat next to my new awesome chair with a working headphone jack says, “Did she fall again?” My heart fell to my butt, my face turned scarlet (I’m assuming) and I died a little bit inside. I promptly put my headphones in my ear (and the new working hole) and got to writing.
About 7 hours and two Diet Cokes into the flight, I got sleepy. I did what any normal human would do, and closed my eyes for a quick catnap. I woke up an hour later and KNEW something was wrong. My left wrist was throbbing from where I had tried to catch myself from falling at the airport. But that wasn’t where the main source of pain was coming from. Underneath my right arm felt like I’d been stung by a jellyfish (and no one peed on my arm to take away the sting) and then swiftly kicked by Brandi Chastain (that was the least timely reference ever, but you catch my drift). I quickly popped into the lavatory (which was disgusting by this time), removed my cardigan to find quite possibly the gnarliest bruise I’ve had in a while. FAN-FREAKING- TASTIC. And I’ll say it one more time (mostly because my mother is reading this); I honestly wasn’t a wasted-face asshole when I fell. – It really was my 5-inch wedges.
I arrived in London early Thursday morning, and rushed to my gate (which was the farthest it could possibly be from where I landed). When I plopped myself down at the gate, with about 20 minutes to spare, I thought, “now would be a perfect time to charge my computer”. I found a great little charging station, reached into my Longchamp for my charger and suddenly realized that my adapter was in my carry-on. There would be no charging any devices. So I gathered up my belongings and wandered over to the window, and gazed out at the largest airplane I have ever seen in person. It was two stories y’all. AND THERE WERE SUITES. On the airplane. This thing made the United 747 I flew across the pond in look like a puddle jumper.
As we boarded the plane, I knew I was in for an experience. There were at least 2 dozen flight attendants, all dressed in fantastic tropical uniforms; with perfectly coiffed French twists that pleasantly and personally escorted me back to my seat in economy. I’ve flown dozens of airlines in my life (American, United, Virgin, Jet Blue, Southwest, Lufthansa, Air Brussels, KLM [the only one that even came close to comparing]), etc.), but Singapore Air blew them out of the water. Economy class on Singapore Air is 50 times better than first class on United. The service, drinks, food, seats, entertainment system were above and beyond. So good in fact, that I looked into seeing if they had a direct flight back to Texas so I didn’t have to take United back home (they didn’t on the day I needed to leave, sadly). After eating lunch, and watching The Impossible (which was exceptional, but probably not the best film to watch as you’re flying INTO Southeast Asia), I popped some Ambien and slept for about 4 or 5 hours.
DAY 3 (part 1)
I was awakened twice to be given “snacks” (sandwiches and ice-cream!) and once again for dinner (fried rice with prawn, quiches, salad, a roll, cheese and crackers). After breakfast we landed, I made it through immigration and customs without a hitch (if you’ve read my travel blog you know that in the past I kind of have a huge issue getting through immigration because I always seem to get feel incredibly ill) and there was Berg, waiting outside customs to take me to his house.
A little background on the person who is patient enough to put up with my non-stop travelling self: Berg is from Dallas, and we went to Texas Tech together- we had tons of mutual friends and were both in the college of communications so we had TONS of classes together (namely Theories in Communication at 8 am [which is the hardest class to pass for our major], where I forced us to sit on the front row and obnoxiously answer all questions while the rest of the class slept and rolled their eyes). When he graduated (he’s a year younger than I am), he moved to Houston and began working for an oil & gas company and was transferred to Singapore about a year and a half ago. Berg has an amazing girlfriend Liz, who I’m also friends with, and she’s off kicking some serious rear end at SMU law.
We walk up to Berg’s car, he puts my bag in the back seat, and I walk around to the passenger side to get in. One problem. It’s the driver’s side. So I sheepishly make my way to the left side of the car and we’re off. The first thing I noticed about Singapore is how green, lush, and perfectly manicured everything is. People told me repeatedly before I got here that is it an impeccably clean country, and they were absolutely right. It is gorgeous- there are flowers, EVERYWHERE. Berg lives in an area where most expats lives, in a high-rise building (everything is a high rise here) that’s about 2 blocks from the MRT (which is the underground subway system here) and two blocks from a place called Newton Circus (you’ll hear tons more about this later). He had me all set up with my own key to his apartment, the security card to get in and out of his building, my own MRT pass and a “burner phone” (think a Nokia phone circa 2006) so I could call and text him if I needed anything (I’m writing this on Day 4 and still haven’t needed to use it).
I take a 5minute shower; throw on some clean clothes and sunscreen and head out the door to explore. Without a map, without a working iPhone or Google maps. It’s time for a freaking adventure, y’all.
I walk over to where I saw the MRT station as I was driving in, and see a Starbucks. I am exhausted. It’s about 9 am in Singapore, which means is about 8 pm in Texas. Then I see they’re advertising a drink called “Green Tea Frappuccino with Red Beans”. If you’ve ever worked with me, or spent more than two days in a row with me, you will know that I LOVE beans. Any kind of bean, any time. I eat roughly 2 and half cups of beans almost every single day of my life. So beans, in a caffeinated drink, to someone suffering from a 14-hour time change was my personal form of heaven. Sadly, they didn’t take my Starbucks card, and this was my first experience with high Singapore prices. My drink was $10. For a tall.
So I made my way down to the MRT, figured out I would take the Red Line to it’s end, then hop on the Orange line and exit at Marina Sands, so I could go on my first adventure which I had already purchased my tickets for- Gardens by the Bay.
One of my favorite parts about travelling is using mass transit. If I had my way, I would never drive (says the girl that drives 8 hours a day almost every day for work) and would walk, bike or take a rail/train/subway everywhere. The MRT was really simple to use, I didn’t have a map or list of stops, but the announcements were clear so it made it easy to know where you were headed. I hopped off at my stop, and as soon as I made it above ground, it was crystal clear where I was headed. The Gardens by the Bay are one of the most interesting sets of structures I have ever seen. The creativity behind this area makes Tim Burton look like a dud. Imagine the opening scene of Munchkin Land in the Wizard of Oz. Now multiply that by 5. That is what the Gardens look like. It was also the last day of Tulipmania, so I also was fortunate enough to see the Dutch exhibit.
After walking about a mile through every kind of garden you can imagine (rock gardens, healing gardens, gardens filled with statues) you enter these two MASSIVE glass domes. They won an award a few years ago for Best Building in THE WORLD. The temperature was about 97° with 100% humidity, and you walk into this building that is perfectly chilled and has 0% humidity. It was the exact opposite feeling of walking into a natatorium. And honestly, I think my hair shrunk about 5 inches from how absolutely perfect it was inside. The first building consisted of flower exhibits from each of the continents and their native plants. The fascinating thing about these buildings is they were designed so that is spring inside the buildings 365 days a year so the plants are always in bloom. It was the most lush, perfectly manicured and pristine garden I have ever seen.
The second dome was called the “Canopy”, and if you’ve ever seen the movie Paycheck with Uma Thurman, it kind of reminded me of that. It was a 7-story tower of waterfalls, covered with plants you couldn’t even imagine existed. When I walked through the doors, my face was doused with spray, so much so that I actually stepped back through the doors because I was confused. Once inside, you walk around the dome, and then take a lift up to the top and walk down the sky walk (I’m not afraid of heights, but it’s kind of scary to walk on a glorified grate 100 feet up), where you get a really superb view of the bay, downtown Singapore and the industrial area. My favorite portion of this was the “pitcher plants”. I LOVE pitcher plants, but have a really difficult time keeping them alive in Houston, so it was neat to see probably 15 different varieties thriving in the giant plant dome. (This would be a good time to make a joke about how I love all kinds of pitchers, but I’m jet lagged, possibly still inebriated, so feel free to insert your own jokes here)
After leaving the Gardens, I walked across the street (its still hard for me to remember which way to look first when I’m crossing them) and wandered around Marina Bay Sands shopping area which has phenomenal views of the city and some lovely shopping. I’m sure you already know this, but the Asian culture is basically obsessed with designer fashion, so every mall is connected to the MRT and has a Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, because they don’t have department stores like we do in the states. And they were packed on a Friday morning, so you can imagine what it is like on the weekends. I met a group of 7 guys while down there, who wanted to take my photo and then be in a photo with me, the first of many photographs I’ve taken with strangers because I’m a blonde who is over 6 feet tall.
By this point it was about 1300 and I’d walked 7 miles and was getting hungry so I hopped back on MRT to head back to the side of town Berg lives on. I had heard him talk about Newtown Circus (it’s an open air food market with hawker stands), so I took the exit before his house which was Newtown, figuring I would be able to find my way over there without a map.
I exited the MRT station; I saw a street sign directly across the road that said “Newtown Circus”. Perfect! The only problem was that there was a MASSIVE amount of construction going on, so it was physically impossible to cross the road without getting run over. So naturally, I followed the sidewalk detour signs. 30 minutes, two tired feet and nearly 2 miles later, I was back across the street at Newtown Circus.
The number one thing expats had told me about eating in Singapore (their food culture is the thing they are most proud of), is that if there isn’t a line, you shouldn’t eat there. So my goal was to find the longest line possible and wait.
Before I left for my trip, I spent about 40 hours researching everything I wanted to do and compiled a list of 50 foods (yes, 50) I wanted to eat while I was here. Newtown Circus is the perfect place for this because it’s an open-air food market with probably 50 hawker stands. The best way I know how to describe a hawker stand is this: it’s about 10 feet by 7 feet, there are two people crammed in there and there is food and cooking materials everywhere. And you’re outside in the sweltering heat and humidity (it was 98 and 100% humidity on Friday by lunch time). I have been told that Americans are grossed out by hawker stands, but I was not bothered by it in the least. You can see everything they’re doing, and as I’ve previously said, Singapore is probably the cleanest place I’ve ever been; you won’t see trash or dirty floors anywhere. The other thing that I learned in my research and from talking to expats is that if there isn’t a line at a hawker stand, it probably isn’t good. There were about 50 stands to choose from, some had juice, some had dessert, some had food with photos, but none served more than 3-5 items.
I found the longest line (about 6-7 people) and started waiting. The stand I had chosen served fish ball noodle soup, which was one of the things on my list. When I finally made it to the front of the line I said, “Fish ball noodle soup please” and attempted to hand him my 2 dollars (hawker stands are the only thing that’s not ridiculously expensive here). He waved away my money, pointed at the table in front of his stand and asked, “You sit here?” I. WAS. SO. CONFUSED.
What I didn’t know then, but now understand, is that when you’re at a hawker stand, you order your food, tell them what table you’re sitting at (they’re all numbered), they bring you your food and then you pay them. Unfortunately, I was a giant dumbass and decided to argue with a smile (a signature Avery move that I’m sure is shocking to y’all).
I kept trying to give him my money, and then he demanded I sit down in broken English. So I take a seat at this table and another man (a patron), tells me I must move because there are other people sitting there. Now I’m getting irritated because I’ve reached a state I call “HANGRY”. Hungry and angry. The hawker stand man realizes this, walks me down to a table with a woman and a child across from me and two women next to me and sits me down. A few minutes later he returns with a steaming bowl of soup that I’ve ordered. I pay him, and start chowing down.
This soup was out of this world. The fish balls were perfectly chewy; the broth was fatty and oily and had the taste that it had been stewing for days. The noodles were also excellent- fat and not too soggy. He provided me with a tiny bowl of chilies that I dumped in there. This is where I made a mistake. It’s 98 outside (I love hot weather more than any human you’ll ever meet). I’m eating a boiling hot bowl of soup, that is also incredibly spicy (but I also love spicy food). What’s the problem? I don’t have a drink because you can’t buy drinks at the same place you buy food and my blonde self wasn’t smart enough to get one pre-meal. I start SWEATING. Profusely. I sweat more in those four minutes than I did in the last marathon I ran. I was drenched. Thank God I was only wearing sunscreen and not makeup because it would have dripped right off. My cute little dress felt like it’d been dunked in the pool it was so wet. And I didn’t know what to do. Do I leave my bowl of soup to go get a drink? Will someone throw out my delicious lunch when I’m up? Where do I get a drink? The ladies next to me were sipping on cute juices, so I asked them what they had and where they got it. They pointed to 7 stands away and said best juice. Get the mango.
I have an allergy to mangos, but it was hot, I had Benadryl with me, and I love mangos. So I said, “screw this”, got up and ordered some juice. I’m so glad I did. It was out of this world. And I sucked that puppy down in about 30 seconds. And my body temperature dropped back to a normal level. It was glorious.
Another interesting thing that Berg had warned me about is that they don’t have napkins ANYWHERE here, so you have to bring your own. I had tissues in my purse, but with the amount of sweat flowing from every pore, it was hopeless. The lady and her child across from me finished their meal, and they must have felt sorry for me (and thought I didn’t know about the lack of napkins) because she grabbed my hand, and put a pack of tissues into it. It was really sweet.
I finished up my soup (my drink was long gone), and moseyed back to Bergs house about 3 blocks away (I followed the street numbers because he lives on Newtown Road, the same road where the circus is)- and people say blondes don’t have common sense.
I was still recovering from my near death heat attack (seriously, I’m pretty sure that is what hell is like), so I threw on my swimsuit and went to one of the three pools at Berg’s condo while I waited for him to get home from work before we went out for the night. There was a lovely Chinese man in a speedo that I chatted with before it started raining (it rains EVERY day here), so my pool experience was rather short lived. I ran back upstairs, showered (I don’t have a sense of smell, but I definitely smelled funky) and right about that time Berg walked in from work.
We immediately hopped in a cab, and headed to a part of town called Robertson Quay to a place called Boomerang. It was an Aussie bar. And if you know how much I love talking to male strangers, you will understand my utter excitement. And also, up until Friday, I thought Australians were super hot with their accents and whatnot.
We arrive at Boomerang, and order Thatcher’s cider (which is incredibly popular here- they are served on ice, have a 6% ABV, and are not nearly as sweet as something like Woodchuck. I actually might not drink cider in America again, because Thatcher’s is so significantly better that it’s ruined it for me) and a bucket of beer. The cheapest beer was $60 for a bucket of 6 beers (that’s about $49 USD). Chew on that for a minute.
I finish my cider, pop open a beer and that’s where I start to have a problem. I hit the jet lag wall. Hard. A 7-hour time change in Europe is nothing. 14 hours is murder. Liz (Bergs girlfriend) told me that when she came over last year, she spent the entire first week adjusting to jet lag. At this point we have been joined by Berg’s friends Corey (and his Filipino “friend”), Jay and Kjersten, and Joe and Colleen (all are expats). And I was mid-sentence and fell asleep at the table. Literally fell asleep at the table. It was a new level of exhaustion. I looked at everyone and said, “Y’all I’m so tired, I have to go home and go to sleep.” (It was only 7 pm) As I’m preparing to get my stuff together to leave, Corey and his friend tell me to hold on, that they’re going to 7-Eleven (which are on EVERY block) to grab some cigarettes and wait till they come back. They bring me something called a “Naughty G”. And this is where things start to get crazy.
DAY 3 (part 2)
Naughty G. I’m not one to drink something from strangers (even though Corey is Berg’s friend). It’s in a bottle the shape of a 5 Hour Energy Drink. It should be noted that I have a stupid amount of energy on any regular day, so I don’t drink sodas, energy drinks or coffee for the caffeine. I am also strongly against using any sort of upper (like Red Bull) mixed with a depressant (like vodka) because the only time I did that (maybe 5 years ago) it made my heart race and to put it mildly, made me act like a psychotic bitch (I’m many things, but bitchy isn’t usually one of them). So I turn the Naughty G around and almost all of the ingredients are herbs, most notably one called “Horny Goat Weed”.
I had a decision to make- I could go home and miss what was turning into a very fun night, or I could drink what I now call “The Horny Goat” with some booze and see how life turned out. So I went home.
Just kidding. I chugged the living daylights out of that Naughty G, and followed it up with a beer called Tiger, which for the record is a Singaporean beer that tastes like a cat took a big honkin’ shadoobie in your mouth. About 30 minutes later, I morphed back into the fun loving, never met a stranger, chatter box blonde that we all know and love tolerate.
I would like to preface this story by saying; I do not have to drink to have fun. It’s also important to note (and my friends would agree) that I don’t change when I’m drinking and people generally have a hard time telling when I’ve been over served (but believe me, I’m always well aware). The only thing that changes is something that has given me the nickname “Houdini”. I do not like feeling drunk and out of control (surprise, surprise), so the moment I start feeling over served, I have a habit of walking away, calling a taxi and disappearing to my house without telling anyone (I don’t tell anyone because whenever I have told people that I’m leaving they beg me to stay [why, I’m not sure,]). Friends find it annoying; I find it extremely gratifying (and responsible).
By the time I finished my “Horny Goat”, it was dark and we decided to walk over to a place called Clarke Quay. It was about a 10-minute walk, but we wanted to booze our way over there. As I’ve stated before and will continue to talk about, everything in Singapore is incredibly expensive (Berg told me post writing my first email that it’s actually $60 for a bucket of 5 beers), so we stopped at a 7-Eleven to buy $5 beers that tastes like a foot soaked in old bathwater got dropped in your mouth (it’s called Anchor if you’re interested in trying some after that graphic description). I think I’ve already stated this, but there are 7-Elevens EVERYWHERE. I’ve been to more of them in Singapore in 2 days than I have in my entire 28 years of living in America. And they are tiny, maybe a little larger than my Mini-Cooper. But they have Slurpee’s. I checked.
So after we make the first of 5 stops at 7-Eleven we arrive at Clarke Quay (pronounced like the word Key, I believe). Most things here are outdoors or open air because it’s ALWAYS 90+ and always 100% humidity, but apparently at this shopping/dining center every time it rained it made it difficult for people to shop and eat, so they created these canopies that I can only describe as giant psychedelic mushrooms on crack. And after a Horny Goat, some beers, and roughly 6 hours of sleep after 27 hours of travel, it was the coolest thing I had ever seen (we went back in the day time, and it was actually really neat). There was band playing and a HUGE crowd gathered listening to a tranny sing American songs in the middle of the square type area. It was absolutely fantastic. While we’re here, we stop at a food stand and order a chicken shwarma, which I only know how to describe as a barbequed chicken that has something similar to what is in a Bahn Mi, but wrapped in a tortilla like bread. It was so good I thought about it for hours (until I ate my next meal 4 hours later, to be precise). Everyone had a hankering for another drink, and just like my experience in Germany last year, people LOVE to take Texans to Mexican food restaurants. We had mango and kiwi fruit margaritas that were surprisingly good (I mean let’s get real, they weren’t a Chimy’s margarita, but they did the job).
Post-margs, we made stop at 7-Eleven, and what we didn’t when we walked in, was that there were two entrances and while it looked like there was no one in line, once we got our beverages out of the cooler, we saw about 20 people in line. Here’s something I’ve learned in the past few days about Singaporeans: they’re super passive aggressive, so if you do something that’s rude, they don’t give a rat’s ass. So instead of getting in the line like everyone else, Berg puts our 7 beers (once again, Anchor, the beer that tastes like fermented horse urine) on the counter, I throw some cash at the cashier and we run out of there in 30 seconds flat.
We’re now a group of 7 (Berg, Corey, Jay, Kjersten, Joe, Colleen and yours truly) and are making our way through Clarke Quay to go to a bar that they frequent called Mogambos (from here on out I refer to it as Mutumbos, and do a finger wag in honor of the giant from the Congo). The entire walk over, all of the expats have been telling me about this bridge that EVERYONE hangs out at during the late evening hours and it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before. We’d pass a bridge, and I’d say, “Is that it?” Apparently, you know when you get to the bridge.
I heard the bridge before I saw it. There were probably 300 people drinking, smoking, and hanging off the bridge. Literally hanging off the bridge. Open containers are fun (it’s totally legal, in case you were wondering). We kept walking under tunnels (with really colorful and vibrant street art), and started walking past beau coups of restaurants and bars; again, all of them open air and full of nightlife.
My favorite part about this part of the walk was the crabs. HOLY SHIT. You haven’t seen a crab till you’ve seen a crab in Singapore. These suckers are so big they could easily chomp your hand off with one little pinch. Some of them range upwards of $1000 PER CRAB. They were massive beast. Most were bigger than my laptop and some had a circumference of maybe 30 inches. I love to let Sadie Burns play with crawfish when we have crawfish boils, but I’m pretty sure even my snarky and rough and tumble pup would run from these guys- THEY WERE HUGE.
We finally make it to Mutumbos *wags finger*, and make our way in (there’s a 7-Eleven across the street, in case you were wondering). By this time it’s about 11:30 and it’s a bumping party. The bar is relatively small, just two rooms with two bars that are maybe 30 x 20. And then, there are the bells. There are two bells, one in each room, tied to a long piece of rope that’s attached to the bar. If you ring the bell, the bartender counts how many people are in that room, at that time, and you are then financially responsible for purchasing everyone a shot (shots start at $10). I’M OBSESSED WITH THIS IDEA. I love creative ways to increase business revenue, and this is definitely one of them. After you ring the bell, you also get your photo taken and put on the wall, unless of course you’re an all-time leader. The person who purchased the most shots was in 2012 “Softlayer” was the name on the plaque, and he purchased . . .wait for it . . .
I’ll give y’all a second to do the math on that. And after doing some nosing around at the ceiling (looking like a total dufus staring upwards), that man had purchased them time and time again (not at that high levels though). I can’t even imagine.
The fun thing about Mutumbos *wags finger*, is that they play amazing dance music. So we danced our asses off, but not without a few interruptions. As you all know, I’m a giant. And when I wear 5-inch wedges, I’m taller than everyone. (In Houston we have an ongoing joke that I’m always the tallest man in Anvil, because we’ve never seen a guy in there that is bigger than me) so on this night, I am about 6’4”.
First, a person that was so non-descript that I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup, walks up to me and says, “Are you Dutch? Because you’re huge.” No, you big jerk, I’m American. The next (and more notably hilarious according to Berg), was when this Australian man, who was roughly 5’4’, with dreadlocks and a Rastafarian hat (but no, banana George Cherry, I checked) walks up to me and the following goes down:
Australian Stoner: How tall are you mate?
Avery: I’m 5’11’ without shoes on.
AS: *blankly stares at me*
[Pause: at this point I realize he only knows the metric system, and I’m 5 drinks in and not feeling friendly enough to do that conversion to centimeters in my head]
ANB: Still taller than you.
Berg thought this was hysterical. We also met a crazy cast of characters that evening at Mutumbos *wags finger*- there was “The Dirty Australian” garbed in an oversized t-shirt with images of skeletons doing various karma sutra poses, “The Australian Stoner” who couldn’t stand up, “The But Are They Really Girls, girls” (I still don’t know, “Dancing Joe” (Bergs friend doing some crazy dances), and “The Angry British guys”. Which brings me to my next story.
The night was winding down (no it wasn’t), but it was getting close to 2 am, so the executive decision was made that we were going to get the best late night food ever. Fun fact: the number one way to get me to stay out past 2am and not disappear is if you PROMISE ME that you will take me to get late night foodie bites (in Texas that means Chapultepec for queso flameado). Up until this point in my life, I very strongly believed that there is no better late night in the world, than the Schnitzel with pommes frites doused in mayonnaise that I ate last January in Munich. I am here to tell you, that I was wrong.
The 6 of us (Berg, Joe & Colleen, Jay & Kjersten, and me) stumble out of the bar and head to the 7-Eleven across the street (this is going to keep happening throughout the story) I wait outside screaming goofy nonsense about how I was soooooo hungry. We walk down half a block to try and catch a cab to head to a place called Spize and there are two tall (but not taller than me) British men and a woman waiting for a cab. And now we’re fishing upstream of them for a taxi. One of them says something to me (and as someone who wants everyone to be as happy as possible all the time, it was a good thing he’s getting upset with me) about how we’re jacking his taxi. I tell him in my sweetest Texas drawl, “I’m so sorry, when one finally stops, we’ll definitely give it to you. We’re a big group so we’ll need a van . . .blah blah blah.” Meanwhile, the guys have obtained a taxi and are shoving Colleen and Kjersten into it. I look at The Angry British Dudes and said, “here we’ll get out, y’all can have it, I don’t want to start any trouble.” Then, like a bunch of raging dickheads (I can’t think of a better term), they start spewing some martyr blather about how all Americans are selfish assholes and we’re all horrible. I didn’t want to blow America’s cover that we’re actually awesome, so I sat my happy ass in the back of that cab and we headed to Spize.
The girls and I arrive at Spize, and walk halfway down the block and grab a table. We meet our waiter Dennis (people here think its really odd when you ask the waiters name, but I can’t help myself), and order waters for everyone. Kjersten is now under the impression that the guys went back to the bar to keep drinking. This did not make Colleen or Kjersten super excited because they wanted their husbands to be there. I could not have cared less what Berg was doing, because I knew how to get home and all I could focus on was putting some delicious Singaporean food in my mouth. Kjersten says that she knows what all the guys get there, and so we give Dennis our order. The girls all order something called Spicy Beef Kway Teow, and we order for the guys Murtabak. Now we wait.
While we’re waiting for the guys to show up, Colleen gets a serious case of the hiccups and I am convinced that I can cure her of them. I have her stand up and do ridiculous things in front of the table (jump up and down on one leg while spinning counter clockwise, is a fun thing to get a drunk person to do), and sure enough, cured. About this time, I see this thing prowling up to the other side of the barrier of the patio we’re sitting on. It’s the scariest “cat” I have ever seen. It looked like a Savannah cat, but bigger, and with half its tail cut off (turns out they cut all cats tails off here). And this vicious, pointy eared critter is stalking the fence, headed our direction. I put my feet in my chair (at the time it seemed logical), and loudly proclaimed “I think that cat could maul me to death in 3 seconds flat” or something equally as ridiculous.
Moments later, the guys roll up in a taxi and it is crystal clear that they went back into the bar to have more drinks and THEN came to join us. And right as they sat down, Dennis brings over the Spicy Beef Kway Teow. Now, I know that I use more hyperboles than anyone ever in the history of the world (see what I did there), but THIS was the best late night food I’ve ever had. It was rice noodles with spicy beef, ginger (and some other ingredients I couldn’t pick out because I inhaled it like a pregnant Jessica Simpson). The boys Murtabak soon arrives and here is how drunk Avery described it: “Y’all it’s like a quesadilla, omelet, pizza. An ommlepizzadilla. Dunked in curry.” (If anyone knows where I can find either of these things in Houston, by the way, I would be forever grateful AND take you to go eat it with me) By this point, I had sucked down my food and was reaching over Jay to get some Murtabak because it was that delicious. All of a sudden, we look over, and Joe has taken Colleens Kway Teow, dumped it on top of his Murtabak, and is rolling it like a burrito. This is a SERIOUS amount of food (this Murtabak was at least a 12×12 square). And he devours it. Every. Last. Bite. We even made a Vine video because it was so impressive. Now that everyone was sufficiently full and satisfied (and Berg wouldn’t stop shouting over and over, “I have to leave! I have to call Liz!”) We piled into a cab and took the short jaunt home.
Once at Berg’s, I walk into the bathroom, not to brush my teeth like a normal person who is getting ready for bed, but to take an Ambien because I am still hopped up from The Horny Goat. I dry mouth the pill, sit down on Bergs couch, still fully clothed and drift peacefully off into a slumber . . .but not before I see Berg walking out of his kitchen, carrying a GALLON OF MILK to his room and whispering to himself, “I just want some cold milk. I just want some cold milk.” Day one in Singapore was definitely complete.