The days have begun to bleed into scattered hours within which night and day are meaningless. Plane rides tend to have that effect on a person. I spent most of the 16 hour flight in and out of sleep or brushing up on my pacman skills.
As soon as we opened the plane windows to see what kind of world we were descending upon, the feelings of sluggish sleep deteriorated.
I was full of awe.
Out the window were sloping mountains: a shadowy dark green that gave the impression they were painted against the sky. Sky scrapers sprung out of the base in slightly peculiar shapes. It made me think of a jungle and of the book 1984, simultaneously. Everything looked odd…out of place…strange…
It was no different once we left the buffer-zone of the airport and walked out into the city. With NYC fresh in my mind from our departure a day(?) earlier, I couldn’t help but pick out all of the ways in which this was not America…
I have been out of the country before, and I have been in cities that feel completely different than home like San Pedro Sula and Kiev. But this place is such an odd combination of familiar elements tinted in a completely new and somewhat bizarre way. For instance, I have seen sky scrapers before, but never have I known them to spring up above the skyline of the mountains as they compete to claim the horizon. Every building is a high-rise it seems, and even the sidewalks are elevated above the streets. We began our exploration of the city by taking to the streets. It wasn’t long before we realized that we were not on pedestrian territory. The sidewalks on the street level had a few other walkers, but for the most part the bustle of foot traffic occurred just above our heads. This was true in a somewhat inconsistant weaving between raised sidewalks and slopes back down the the street, but we followed the other visitors around us diligently, in hopes we would find ourselves feeling less lost. The English subtitles on every sign helped in this matter, but in a city this huge, one wants to know where one is.
At one point, we found ourselves winding up a steep corridor full of open-aired shops, carts and booths with the usual clutter of trinkety goods…and some less usual clutter as well. I couldn’t tell what everything was, or I would share.
Then, just a moment later the corridor would open back up to an entirely different kind of street with a cosmopoliton feel where bilboards with American advertisements plastered the walls and the shop clerks wore three piece suits. “Spend!” was the message here, so we ducked back into a side corridor to find our dinner.
This in itsself was a bit of an endeavor. Even when the menus were printed in English…many of them left us guessing at what was vegetarean and what wasn’t.
Singapore Noodles…for the record…are not vegetarean afterall.
Inside the dive-diner we chose for our meal of noodles and some sort of iced chocolate milk of sorts…a young man was delighted at the chance to practice his English.
“Your hair. Beautiful!” He told Drew, referring to his sun-bleached dreds.
We stared open-eyed at our strange setting as we ate our noodles and picked out the pork.
We have much more to see…