I managed to feel better in time to meet the gang at The Long Bar at Raffles for Singapore Slings. They taste like what I imagine Hello Kitty’s sweat might be like, but the place was lovely. After was, BBQ at the parents of the bride house. In lieu of my earlier condition, I resisted the tasting of the stinkiest fruit in creation and caught up with folks I haven’t seen in years, including a guy I went to high school with. He always thought I was “bad-assed” back then. That made me happy.
I’ve been all out of sorts since I got back. Insane level jet lag, flu-ish cold. The bitter slap of reality that is my unemployment. But I thought I’d finally get some highlights from the trip out of my head and on to the internets because that is apparently what one does:
We arrived in Singapore greeted by a crowd of screaming teenage girls with signs and cell phone camera raised up high. Alas, it was not for us but for some swoony famous teen idol who arrived the same time we did with a much more impressive entourage. Within one hour of arriving we managed to find two gay bars around the corner from our small but very cute hotel and got just enough alcohol to help put me to sleep.
I was there for the wedding of a friend of a friend from college and they did a fantastic job of organizing activities for us out-of-towners including a food tour which I unfortunately missed. I was busy vomiting up whatever food was inside me already. I would make up for it the next day with chicken/rice at the hawker place Anthony Bourdain raved about. Who would have thought something so simple would be so incredibly tasty.
The wedding was really lovely: simple, short and sweet and I found myself dabbing my eyes more than I thought I would. We were then shuttled to Sentosa for the reception. We had a few hours to spare before the festivities, so after a dip in the pool, a few of us headed to the spa for the “fish dip” (yes, that’s what they called it) foot treatment which is a lot more disturbing than effective. Eight courses at the banquet. ABBA and New Order cross all cultural boundaries. Danced with the one single guy I could find, then stumbled up to our room around 1am to attempt sleep before getting up at 4:30am to catch our flight to Cambodia.
First stop was Siam Reap. Spent an hour in line for our visas. It’s all malaria pills and DEET from now on.
Started out with a boat ride to the Floating Forest which was surreal and the Floating Village which was humbling. We hired a driver to take us around Angkor Wat and spent two days wandering around the ruins which were truly awesome. For real, as in evoking awe. It annoyed me that I didn’t know more about this place before. Apparently parts of Tomb Raider were filmed there. I felt a little Angelina Jolie coming on with the swarms of kids selling beaded bracelets and postcard books at every site. It broke my heart, but I got pretty good at saying no with a smile. I think their first words must be “Three for $1.00.” I rode an elephant, saw a lot of monkeys and fell in love with Fanta all over again.
The days were all about the temples and the nights were all about tuk tuks and night markets for souvenir shopping. Our last night there, we treated ourselves to massages since we had a five hour bus ride to Phenom Phen the next morning.
Our first stop was a reminder of more recent Cambodian history, The Tuol Sleng Musuem. I was considering taking a day trip out to see the Killing Fields, but I just couldn’t do it.
The rest of our stay consisted of mostly lounging by the pool, drinking, getting $4 manicures that were worth every penny, shopping for Buddhas and bargains, dinner by the river at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Cambodia and playing “Spot the Sex Tourist.”
On our way back to NYC, we made a stop in Hong Kong for a night and a day. We had dinner at a Mexican place around the corner from our hotel. The mariachi band sang an acoustic version of the theme to Titanic which we would later hear again from the lounge singer at the Intercontinental Hotel. We drank Manhattans and watched the lights of the skyline. Very Lost in Translation.
Now I have the bug. I want to keep going. I’m thinking Copenhagen or Reykjavík. Peru might be an option. All I need is a regular paycheck and a traveling companion I can fuck.