A few years ago, I embarked on a unique adventure and spent 6 months doing the nomad thing from Saipan, several cities throughout China, as well as in Laos and Singapore! I had a great time, met a lot of great people, and chronicled it through email updates to my mailing list of followers! With travel restrictions now in effect, I’ve created a weekly email to give YOU a chance to re-live the adventure just as if you were there! Simply sign up to the Jamaican in China “Reloaded” email, then sit back and enjoy the ride in your email inbox every three or so days!
Now, you know I’m not one to cause trouble, but I need a little help with something I saw while I was Jamaican in Singapore.
As an enlightened, ever-advancing global society, we’ve all agreed that there are people with severe disadvantages and life situations who require our sympathy, and pity, and furthermore, as a public show of our condescending attitude towards such individuals, we offer them a tiny seat on a bus or congested subway system so they can at least be comfortable (and clearly identifiable with a big arrow pointing towards them) while they wallow in their obvious, understandable and pitiable misery at being different from the rest of us normal people. I support this.
So, with that said, this is a reserved seating sign on a train in Singapore.
Reserved seating sign on Singapore MRT
You with me? So far so good.
Now, here is the same sign upon closer examination.
Reserved seating sign on Singapore MRT; the plot thickens
Additionally, as the afore-mentioned advanced society, rather than waste valuable ink using words and sentences to describe the types of people we want to put in the “look at me I’m different, debilitated, or otherwise dependent or desirous of special consideration” seating, we use graphic icons.
These icons are cleverly designed to be universally self-explanatory–given our increasingly global, multi-lingual and culturally diverse society–and I’m proud to say, being the intelligent and sophisticated world traveler I am, I’ve been able to figure out most of them. They’re rather easy, really.
Please give your seat to men with
argyle socks, carrying dinner trays
(Don’t YOU prefer to sit if you have to eat on the subway?)
Please give your seat to men with
ill-fitting dresses, or women who are obviously
hiding stolen items beneath their skirts.
(presumably so the Singapore police can
easily locate and deal with both these types of social deviants)
Note: I also support caning.
Please give your seat to men
with ventriloquist dummies
on their laps, or to Mike Myers
and “mini me” should they happen to visit Singapore.
(we must make our artists and celebrities comfortable)
See? Like I said, fairly simple. However, here’s where I’m a little perplexed. I seem to be having a little trouble with the next icon, and this is where I need your help.
Could you tell me what exactly is that, um, thing that appears to be originating, protruding and hanging out from this man’s crotch area that’s causing him to be noticeably pulled forward?
Like I said, I’m not one to cause trouble, but IF I’ve deciphered this icon correctly–being a Jamaican man, you understand–I’ve always considered such a condition to be rather advantageous rather than debilitating to tell you the truth….
However, had I known before leaving that such a condition would guarantee me a seat whenever I’m in Singapore….
>crunch…slurp….gulp…smack, swallow.<..huh?? what?? Oh, hi!…>burp<
Ahem…Forgive me…Got a little distracted there….Ahem..Now, then…
Hi!!!! My name is Walt F.J. Goodridge, Jamaican in China! Welcome to today’s episode entitled “Vegan Heaven in Singapore!”
Because of both the Buddhist and Indian influences, there’s absolutely no shortage of vegan and vegetarian restaurants here in Singapore. In order to fully appreciate the plethora of pigless perfection, the fantasy of fleshless feasting, the cacophony of cruelty-free culinary cooking that is Singapore, I suggest to you that the appropriate unit of measurement is “square inch,” as in “there are more vegetarian restaurants per square inch in Singapore than in any other city in the world, and that includes New York, Los Angeles and Beijing!” (However, my research shall be ongoing)
Now, while many restaurant signs in New York squeeze in the word “vegan” in small letters in what amounts to a reluctant, fearful whisper, so as not to alienate the majority population; and while some restaurants in Beijing simply add two or three dishes, or–if I’m lucky–a whole page (wow!) of “vegetarian-friendly” options (which means they’ll be friendly to you while they remove the pieces of visible meat from the dish you just ordered, so you can be happy, you fanatic freak), here in Singapore’s Little India, it’s different–I counted several blocks, each with 4, 5, or 6 different restaurants one right next to the other each with the word “VEGETARIAN” as an integral part of the restaurant name, in big, bold letters in what amounts to a proud and unapologetic scream for all the world to hear! Yes, Singapore bulges with a buffet of beefless–oh, oops, I already beat that style of description to death already…..
This is Vegetarian Heaven, “supersized” at no additional charge! This is Vegetarian Heaven with a deluxe/elite ticket option upgrade! This is Vege….okay, you get the point. As such, the challenge has been to sample as many of the restaurants as possible in the few days I planned to stay. In fact, I had to leave Singapore for a short four day trip, but then I returned just so I could eat at more restaurants! I kid you not.
As I related in an earlier post, the first restaurant I found on my first afternoon in Singapore (found through HappyCow.net) was Fo You Yuan on Kitchener Street in Little India.
“Take photo first. Eat second.” “Take photo first. Eat second.”
The next day came Zen Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant on Middle Road. It’s on the second floor of Midlink Plaza.
a few of the staff at Zen Japanese Vegetarian
If you’re fortunate enough to also know and dine with my friend, Michelle, then you’ll also have some cool conversation…otherwise, you’ll simply have to envy me! Zen wisdom: Envy is a dish best served slightly warmed… with noodles, edamame and a bit of ginger to aid with digestion.
Zen gets the high marks for most exciting assortment of meals!
While strolling through the streets, I came across City Center Mall, Singapore’s first eco-mall and found Four Seasons Organic store on the third floor. I didn’t eat full meals there, but it became part of my daily routine to pick up food bars and fresh squeezed green juice.
Spinach, carrots, apple and ginger….life is great!
And, of course, there are other reasons to keep going back….
4 Seasons gets the high marks for greatest assortment of “other reasons” to keep going back! Ladies, next time I promise I’ll bring copies of my books for you to see!
Next stop was 7 Sensations, also in Little India on Madras Street
Korean rice, yam soup, veggie roll wrap, green juice. 7 Sensations gets the prize for most esthetically pleasing presentation! The restaurant, the meals, and the menu are all expertly designed and presented! Try the durian cake and avocado/tofu cake for dessert.
See you on QQ, ladies!
Just a short walk from the hostel I was staying, is Big Bites Pure Vegetarian Restaurant. Many of their pastries and snacks have ghee (butter), or milk, but I did find a few snacks made from dahl and spices. So, that became part of my daily routine as well.
No….Just take the picture…that’s the point, I don’t want to look at the camera….I’m trying to look cool….while I pose next to my empty bag of just-eaten masala snack
Next was Lao Di Fang Vegetarian Restaurant in the Park Mall
in the basement of the Park Mall, Central Singapore
It was a little out-of-the way from where I was staying, so I only went there once, but next time….oh, man, next time….!
Next was Nature Vegetarian Delights – Hougang, Northeast Singapore…a buffet-style restaurant.
So that’s how I spent my days in Singapore, green juices, food bars, vegan dining and bunk beds in hostels.
Encore at Fo You Yuan
>Looks like fun, doesn’t it? Blissful, right? Yup. Uh huh… WELL YOU’RE WRONG!!! Those few days in Singapore were extremely stressful!! Why? Well, every other place I’ve lived, I would find one, perhaps two restaurants where I can eat, and then life is easy.
Monday? Restaurant ONE.
Tuesday? Restaurant ONE.
Wednesday? guess what…same restaurant! This I can do.
OR, if I feel like I can handle a bit of increased complexity I might do:
Monday? Restaurant ONE.
Tuesday? Restaurant TWO.
Wednesday? Restaurant ONE again.
Tricky, but manageable. This is what I’m accustomed to.
Here in Singapore, however, I have the stress of choice. On my last day, I was actually on my way to one restaurant, had a change of stomach, made an about face on the sidewalk and then started walking to another restaurant, then ended up going past that restaurant and ending up at a third restaurant where I finally had my meal. I don’t know if I could handle that sort of stress on a daily basis. I might go mad.
That’s the advantage of life on the lunatic fringe. Predictability. Now I know how omnivores feel!
As lengthy as this post is, there are still some other shops, stores I didn’t include in the list. Like I said, Singapore is heaven for vegetarians, but beware….You might not be able to handle it!
Now, as I wrap up this episode, I’d hate for you to think I was biased only towards vegetarian restaurants. I, and my blog pride ourselves as being fair, non-judgmental, ecumenical, all-inclusive and exercise political correctness and compassion and tolerance for all, regardless of their lifestyle, culinary and dietary choices. So, with that said, if you’re not into vegetarian fare,
I imagine you can always eat here:
In case you can’t read the sign, it says….”Free coffee with every purchase of a bowl of Pig’s Organ Soup.”
Nothing like a hot cup o’ joe to chase down the pig’s organ. Bon apetit!
Until next time, this is Walt F.J. Goodridge, Jamaican in China!
See you in Singapore!
Ok…are we done? Good…roll the credits, and don’t disturb
me again, ok?!!!
Fortunately for you, I have friends who have been to China, Laos, Singapore, (all the places I’ve been to), and all over the rest of the world. These friends have cameras, AND, also quite fortunately for you, they use THEIR cameras for taking stunning and captivating photographs of the places they’ve been. So, while I’m taking photographs of coffeepots, sea salt, supermarkets and backpackers sleeping on sidewalks, they’ve taken actual photos of these destinations. Who does that??!
I met Eric G. as he was passing through Saipan, and we’ve kept in touch and shared photographs since. Here are Eric’s own “Frenchman in Singapore!” shots for you to appreciate where this Jamaican in Singapore is right now! Thanks for sharing, Eric….saves me the cost of the taxi ride to these places!
In order to preserve the stunning colors, I haven’t compressed the photographs (for fast online viewing) as do for my own photos, so they’re a little larger than normal. You can also click on the photos to view them larger.
Here in Singapore, I’m doing things a bit differently. As mentioned earlier, I’m staying in hostel dorms rather than singles. Prices are a bit higher here, so a bed in a 6 or 8-person dorm costs from $20SGD to $30SGD/night. The exchange rate between US and Singapore is 1USDollar = 1.28SGD (Singapore dollar). So, a $25SGD room is about $19US. Since I’m still thinking in Chinese RMB, that’s about 125RMB, about what I was paying for a single hotel room on Hainan, and WAY MORE than the 40RMB I was paying in Xishuangbanna. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a different country, but I’ve been spoiled!
That’s NOT my bed, I swear. I don’t wear sneakers.
In any event, it’s not so bad. It’ll only be for a few days, and people pretty much keep to themselves (or maybe it’s just me). And, anyway, as a nomad writer, I’ve got to experience new things and survive to write about them!
I wanted to take a photo in front of a “definitively Singapore” landmark, but I’ve been told that the famous Merlion Statue is under construction.
[The Merlion is an imaginary creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. This half-lion, half-fish sculpture rests on undulating waves. The lion head alludes to the legend of Singapore’s founding by Sang Nila Utama, a Palembang Prince who, on his arrival on the island, saw what he thought to be a lion and thereafter renamed Temasek, Singapura or “Lion City”. The fish-tail represents Singapore’s links to the ancient sea-bound island which was Temasek and its long and successful association with the sea, reflecting how the forefathers traversed the oceans to come to Singapore and the nation’s subsequent dependence upon it as a port.]
So, if it weren’t under construction, my photo would look like this, except with less people, and with a Jamaican hue. (Use your imagination) And to answer your question, I have no idea who these people are, but that’s what can happen when you post photos to a public blog.
Shao Yi, a couchsurfer I met online, gave me a little tour of the Little India part of town, and told me where I could find a “reasonable facsimile” of Merlion…
Shao Yi…(Let me know how the book develops, Shao Yi)
According to Shao Yi, said facsimile exists at a tourist spot called Sentosa where I took these photos…
Thanks to my friend, Greta, in Beijing (who’s originally from Singapore), I made some new contacts here. We met for dinner and then headed to a friend’s birthday party. A fun time was had by all!
Walt, Emilie, Kay and Michelle dining in Singapore.
By the way, how do you like my new shirt? This is my favorite style, so I bought three, and may go back and get some more before I leave Singapore. So, don’t set your fashion expectations too high as it concerns the diversity of my wardrobe in upcoming posts. No names, but some of you (Ken!) have a tendency to comment on this as if it mattered to me.
Ketan, the birthday boy!
Luigi, from Italy! Great conversation, Luigi. I’ll let you know when the Dating in China for Foreigners book is out!
Kay, Emilie (with the Ukelele) , Michelle, Ketan
Today I headed into Chinatown to look for another hotel to stay, but got distracted by a vegetarian restaurant.
Thousand Veggie Restaurant
Later, I checked out Four Seasons Organic Store in City Center Mall…
I’m in a part of Central Singapore known as Little India….
Someone made the following comment on the previous “Last Days in China” post: “Good luck on your trip home. I enjoyed following your travels.”
Home? Who says I’m going home? But for that matter, where is home? As I say in Living True To My Self, I’m a minimalist, vegan nomad. “I function with less, won’t eat any flesh, and my home’s where I rest.”
The story is simple: my China visa expired on March 7, so as is, um, advisable, one should leave when one’s stay has concluded. In the famous words of Felix Unger: “Never overstay your welcome, or you’ll never be welcome to stay over.” However, I do plan to return for more fun and excitement. In the famous words of Walt Goodridge, “There will always be a Jamaican in China!” (And the blog title will be the same wherever on the continent I roam…
Which brings me to, drum roll please….Jamaican in Singapore!
I’m in the area. It’s a quick flight, and Singapore, Bali, Indonesia, Malaysia have been on my list for quite some time. So, off we go!
My escape from China started with an early morning 5:30AM taxi ride to the Sanya train station. It takes about 30 minutes and costs 25RMB (on the meter) from the UFO Hotel.
I have to take the high speed train to Haikou since that’s the international airport on Hainan. Cost of train ticket: 88RMB. Length of ride: 1 hour 20 minutes.
Sunrise from Sanya.
Conveniently, the MeiLan station puts you in the basement of the Haikou airport. So a few escalators up and you’re there! In order to make the 20kg limit on checked-in luggage, I had to throw away a few items…final weight: 19.8kg.
Whew! That was tiring….After I took this photo of my plane departing, I had to run real fast to get back on it before takeoff. But the pilot was a real nice guy.
Hey! Is that the same little red car I spotted on Day 1 in China, Beijing??? Hey, are you following me?
I land in Singapore and change 300RMB to Singapore dollars (SGD) (Exchange rate: 1 RMB = 0.20SGD) so I ended up with about 60 Singapore Dollars for my taxi ride to my hostel.
My friend, Greta, had suggested Prince of Wales Hostel as a place to stay. This experience will be a bit different as I booked a bed in a dorm! The cost is 22SGD/night. That’s about 17US dollars per night. That’s about what I was paying for a single room on Hainan, so I didn’t want to go higher than that. That means I’ll be giving up my privacy and actually sharing living space with people!! Haven’t done that since….well, I’VE NEVER done that! Okay, that’s not true, when I was a homeless, entrepreneur upstart, I did “couch surf” with friends until I got on my feet!
In any event, Audrey shows me the accommodations, share the rules. (No outside food allowed on the premises; no food in the dorm. So I guess there’ll be no coffeepot cooking here.
First order of business after settling in: food! (I don’t eat airline food, and I typically don’t eat less than 24 hours before a plane flight) I checked Happycow.net and found a list of vegetarian restaurants. On the way to check out one on the list, I discovered this one, which was a bit more inviting. It was a bit before the evening shift, and the cooks were sleeping, but my new best friend (whom you’ll meet soon, was nice enough to get the cooks started a little earlier than usual. I simply had to wait about 20 minutes, and while I waited, I had some dessert.
Have you noticed how “flat” some of the photos appear? I’m wondering if that means the lens is sub-par and thus an indication that the camera in China might be a knock-off. What do you think the chances of that are?
Chloe, my new bestest friend, and first official Jamaican in Singapore photographer. She just started working at the restaurant a few days before.
I should tell you that Singapore seems to be the most vegetarian friendly place I’ve ever been! There are huge vegetarian signs everywhere!!! I mean everywhere! There will be no shortage of places to indulge my proclivities.
Later in the evening, I met up with some couch surfers and we hung out on Arab Street in Little India until about 11:30pm! Great first day in Singapore! Stay tuned!