It is still Sunday, December 22, 1991. Part 2 of my trip to Singapore with James Jimmy Jive Dalton, a fellow assistant English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme. James arrived this past July, and I a year previous to him.
We're both funny, well-liked guys who are probably so shy that we admirably cover that up by being loud and brash... though perhaps I do that more loudly and brashly than James.
We arrived at Changi Airport in Singapore at midnight and clear customs at 1AM local time. A guy named John that I met at Tokyo's Narita airport comes over to say hi. He, like myself was bumped from a flight we had paid for - but I complained loud and hard, and I guess everyone got on that should have got on.
Hmmm... I guess I forgot to mention that another AET named Tim Mould was also along with us on the flight - stupid me. Oh, and John was also traveling with a buddy named Zeke who would arrive tomorrow, and so we decided we would all hang out together! Zeke got bumped! So I guess I didn't get everyone aboard.
Anyhow... looking at my diary now... James, Tim, John and myself are all stupid stupid guys, who really have no clue about traveling, because not one of us actually planned ahead and booked a hotel. How bad could it be? The plan was to run and gun it for the entire trip. That was my plan, anyway.
While we were standing in the airport wondering where we could go to sleep at 1AM, a chubby Chinese man that stood maybe 5'-4" comes up to us and asks us if we are looking for a room.
We're all tired, smelly and probably need to pee, and we have no concept of where to go, so of course we are interested.
This is how young girls from Iowa end up in porno movies in Van Nuys, California or prostitutes in Los Angeles or New York.
"Sure" - we answer in unison, or perhaps that was just me, as I'm usually the de facto mouth of any group of stupid guys.
"How much?" I ask.
$40 Singapore dollars. For all us. Total.
Now... back in 1991, $40 = US $6 or Cdn $8.
In 2012 dollars, that same Singapore amount equals about US/Cdn $32.
Despite the rise in the Singapore dollar relative to the Canadian and US buck, and the fall of the US dollar relative to the Canadian dollar, either US $6 or $32 for a room for four guys is not a lot of money.
How bad could it be? The place was called the Peony Mansion. Hell... I live in a place in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan called Zuiko Mansion - and it's a 3-bedroom place with an LDK, western toilet and two, count'em, two balconies! And, I also only pay US$350 a month, which is pretty cheap.
|The Dragon Lady|
And this is beautiful Singapore! It must be a real mansion! What could go wrong? He's even giving us a ride in his taxi! I think it was $5 Singapore dollars or $1. I'm pretty sure I paid that!
Despite it being pitch black when we arrived, it was quite obvious to me that this beautiful flower of a mansion had long lost its bloom. What was that smell?
Cripes... was Sam - that was the name of our Chinese host and taxi driver - taking us to the Dragon's Den where we would be robbed and murdered? Oh please let me be raped by the Dragon Lady. These are all Milton Caniff's Terry & The Pirates characters. You should read more real comic books!
It wouldn't matter if Sam was taking us somewhere to be robbed... none of us were small weak little foreigners. We could take this guy, unless he was some blasted little Kung-Fu master who looked like Sammo Hung.
|Sammo Hung can kick your ass.|
But, my luck holds out. The hotel also known as a flop-house does not smell. We're not sure what the smell is, but it's not the hotel.
The actual hotel seems to be run by Tamils or Pakistanis, so I'm safe. "Hey, brother!". My non-brown buddies might wake up dead in the morning, but I won't. Or something like that.
The owners are nice enough guys. They take our money - which again, I'm pretty sure I paid as apparently everyone else has suddenly become paralyzed with fear of whatever that smell is that seems to be following us.
|Hooker (inset) brutally murdered at Peony Mansion in Singapore in Nov. 2011.|
So... remember how we paid a total of US $6 for the room? Well, it came with a lovely double-size bed. Just the one. But there was a bathroom! Uh... which we had to share with another room.
Still, Sam wasn't an ass... he brought in two futons, which meant that three of the guys would have to share the two futons while I got the bed.
Okay... no one was going for that plan - but I had to try. I knew it wouldn't fool Tim and James, but I thought I had a chance with John.
So... two in the double-size bed and two futons.
While none of us had ever heard of bed bugs or even mentioned it aloud if we did, not one us brave he-men felt like removing an article of clothing and putting bare skin down on either the futons or the bed... which I don't believe had anything more than a sheet cover.We may have been stupid and trusting, but we weren't that stupid and trusting.
Anyhow... it was now about 2AM, and I'm pretty sure all of us needed to use the bathroom... me... I never take a poop on a plane, so I had to go badly...
I opened the bathroom door, and all four of us stupid he-men screamed like a four-year-old girl - with apologies to any four-year-old girls out there who may be reading this.
There... sitting on the toilet seat was a cockroach the size of a beagle reading a newspaper.
It looked over at us, wiggled its antennae, and hissed something incomprehensible - either "Occupado" or "Hsssssssss". We slammed the door shut, bolted it and placed all the furniture in the room against it.
For good measure, we put a couple of towels and sheets by the door should it try to sneak under the door frame looking for toilet paper.
As far as I am concerned, although I am not that experienced with cockroaches (I've now seen two in my life), when a light goes on, a cockroach is supposed to beat a hasty retreat. When it doesn't - there's a problem. And I don't like problems.
Anyhow... that smell started up again. Not the smell of fear which was there now thanks to the cockroach and actually smelled like warm bread - no... it was coming from John... his shoes, to be exact! Something died in there, and his feet had probably murdered it.
Try to imagine a ton of rotting, fermented natto that has gone bad (I know, its an oxymoron). Now combine that with two liters of four-month-old milk. Two-percent. Huwwwaaaaggh!
We quickly pulled away the furniture and towels, unbolted the door, opened it, tossed the shoes into the bathroom, and then re-secured the area. The cries from within were truly horrific.
While none of us had anything against the Cockroach, it was either him or us. Those shoes had to go.
By the way... when I had opened the door to the bathroom that first time, I had noticed that the door to their room was open on the other side. From what I could determine, they were Tamils. They were nice guys according to Sam, but it was obvious that they had some sort of coughing disease that the western world had long since eradicated, but was still prevalent in these two. We never got close enough to actually say hello.
Or to use the washroom.
It's actually quite amazing how I can tighten my sphincter to not go to the washroom on an airplane. In fact, I once refused to use the outdoor toilet at a campground because not only did I not want to sit on a piece of wood that other campers had probably crapped on for decades, I didn't want a spider to bite me on my bum.
It's true. I shut down my bowels for four days. I effing hate camping.
I have no idea why people think it's a good idea to get away from it all and go crawling back out to nature to 'rough it.' Screw all you campers out there. Mankind fought tooth and nail to pull itself out of the dark, and dank caves so that we could live in a nice, warm and secure place where we wouldn't be killed by bears or cockroaches. Why would I want to go back to living like a caveman and rough it?
Sure you guys are all real tough like cavemen. Smart like them, too. But don't tell me about that snake bite on your leg or that splinter in your ass. I'm also bug bait on any sort of outdoor activity - so, while I respect nature, I don't see the need to invade it.
With all of that in mind, I told James that no matter what it costs, I'm staying in first-class accommodations for the rest of this trip. It's a vacation. Why should we not be able to relax and enjoy ourselves?
We're rich! Sort of. So why should we have to live like animals?
To James' credit, he wholeheartedly agreed.
Anyhow... us four stupid men who would gladly fight a Kung-Fu master, but were afraid of a giant cockroach, and hated the concept of 'roughing it'... we settled down for the night.
We re-arranged our sleeping arrangements so that we all avoided the futons, while James and I had a chair each, John slept on our knapsacks, and Tim, the bastard, slept on the bed after winning a round of jun-kin-po (rock-scissors-paper).
We were lulled to sleep by the rhythmic sounds of snoring resembling a jet plane with asthma so I was told - though I didn't hear it as I was fast asleep.
Thus ended our first night in beautiful Singapore. I'm sure the dawn will wash away the filth and we'll find a place where we can safely take a crap.
Somewhere with a tight sphincter less a cockroach crawl up it,
Today's blog title is by the immortal DEVO with one of my favorite punk rock pieces ever! Devolution! Back to the caves with you! The top video is from my buddy Mike who I bet was at this show.