Day 21, 22 Singapore

                    Day 21 and day 22 in Bubba’s trip to go “East” and our trip to accompany him.

Heading east from Dubai would take me somewhere like the Himalayas, China, North Korea.  Maybe I should veer southeast instead.  I’ve heard that crossing the equator causes your hair to fall out so maybe I will stop just shy of the big red line on the map.

            Singapore is 80 or so miles north of the equator so I should be safe.  We stayed in the Chinese quarter at this hotel that once was a Chinese temple.

          They have a Bubba sized model of what the area looked like back in the day.  Our place is the short one in the middle that still looks pretty much the same.   

          Up in our room, we found some goodies to commemorate the Mid-Autumn festival.  I’m always ready to munch sweets and check out the view of the market from my room.

            Singapore is an almost mystical blend of the past and the up-to-the-minute present.  A wander around the neighborhood took us back to the historic side of this part of the city.  We came across this temple, still in use.  This place has some beautiful carvings and is a sacred place. 

          So you know the bit over your front door?  No one really looks there; they are ringing the bell.  In this place, every surface is filled with carvings with deep religious meanings.  This is the Thian Hock Keng Temple or Palace of Heavenly Happiness first built around 1821. 

            Inside there are places devoted to the different gods.  Each have a deep meaning and each have their own offerings left behind by devotees.  This being Singapore, one of the friendliest places I’ve ever visited, a man standing near heard us admiring the work and explained some of the things we were seeing.  He was a professor at the local university who would explain things to tourists during his visits.

                                  What is that offering I see at the foot of the God with the big tongue?

                                                        It is indeed a can of Guinness! 

These two are Generals Fan and Xie, the guardians of hell, also known as the Black and White Guards of Impermanence.  One can imagine the significance of the can O’ Guinness. 

It is a little hot and damp today.  Illegal forest clearing in Indonesia contributes smoke to the mix.  It is downright melty out here.

                           It is time for something to cool my soul.  I’ll ask this guy for a ride.

“You know where a guy could get a cool drink in a classy place that represents Singapore’s past?”

                    This is, of course, a not so cleverly done set up for the next bunch of pictures.

                                                   Take me to Raffles Hotel! 

            The hotel’s roots go back to the 1830’s and it was eventually named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore.  It is a classic colonial British building.  I could sip tea on the veranda.

            Nah! That isn’t my style.  I’ll head to Harry’s bar.  This is the place where the Singapore Sling was invented…and they have free peanuts.

Warm day, fans overhead gently moving the hot, moist air, and a nice tropical cocktail.  I can’t help overhearing someone speak of a tiger hunt and I think he actually said the words, “Dash it all!” and “My word!”  It is a dozy kind of day.

            You must forgive Bubba in letting his imagination roam a bit.  This is a modern bar with all the trappings from the past so it is easy to send your mind back 100 years or so.

            Time to go back to the room for a nap.  Let’s see if I can find it.  It had red shutters and looked out over the shopping arcade.

                     Yeah, one of those.  Tomorrow I’ll check out the modern version of the city.

Back to Brussels–Day 18

In the quest to always move east, we took a week out to roll around Belgium.  We are now back in Brussels for a last look before boarding a plane again.

                                                                     Who’s this guy??

                                He is a statue.  He is dressed up in a uniform.  He is a fountain and he is….!!

AHHHHH!!  Don’t get wet.  I found out this is Manneken Pis.  A rather famous fountain to commemorate…there are several stories.  He has been standing there doing his bit since 1618 so his origins are faded.  The one I like best is the small boy who found a way to extinguish the fuse of a bomb and save the city.  This guy is famous.  He has a better wardrobe than most of us and his outfit is changed often.  There is even a special museum dedicated to his wardrobe and, of course, we visited. 

                                   Only some of his outfits are on display.  The rest are packed in drawers.

                                                     Do you like Elvis?  Well, Elvis is in the house.

            This is taken very seriously as he has been there for close to 500 years.  It is considered an honor for him to wear a costume and the submission process is quite complicated.  He has been given honors by several countries.

            He is a great hero among us short inanimate people. Who else can attract a crowd with umbrellas to watch him go about his 500-year business. 

                         Enough of this culture stuff.  Time to find an even more serious place to escape the rain.

            Kind of says it all.  Nothing better on a wet day than a tavern with many taps and an underground room.                                                                                           What could go wrong? 

            A couple of pints later and I’m ready to go back out and see the sights.  We stopped at a shopping arcade.



                                            Rick bought a snappy hat that looks like his other snappy hats.

            We then stopped by the Cathedral des Saints Michael et Gudule.  I think the guard may have detected the previous pints as he pointed the way out.  Or at least one way out.

                                                 Must be time to board the first plane out to the east.

                                                     I wonder where this place may be?














Bubba Ruins Romans

            Bubba returns to the medieval city of Avignon, France and visits the surrounding area.  He insists that he is now Master of the Keyboard and wants to write his own story. 

            Located in Avignon is a relic of tremendous importance among my plastic people.  The debate among historians, archeologists, and injection molding professionals as to which came first, the head or the body, continues, but there is no doubt that this is the first attempt at a detachable, interchangeable head.  It did not catch on right away.  In those days they did not have plastic so they used stone.  It proved to be a little heavy and would crush most bodies it was applied to.  I was very excited to finally meet my ancestor from 1223 A.D.

            In the nearby town of Nimes, we visited a Roman Arena that still stands in the center of the city.  I got my climbing gear on again and headed straight for the top.  It was a long way to the base so I hitched a ride with some guy and his shopping cart.

That thing is huge.  It is something like 500 body lengths high.  Well 500 of my body lengths high at least.  The top is bare, crumbling rock and that was laid down centuries ago.  The uneven edge and great height is very frightening.  I made it to the top and beat a hasty retreat.

            From there we went to Arles.  There was another arena there.  This one is being used for a “kinder” kind of bull fighting where the bulls chase the people around the arena.  The runners try to grab flags that are tied on the bull’s back.  This is a kind of suicidal flag football.  The bull does his best to skewer the runner and the game is on.  This is a YouTube video that pretty much says it all.  They tell me it is more humane because the bull is spared but I don’t know that harassing him is much better but he does have a chance to get a poke in now and then.  There is a small footrest thing along the inner arena wall that the runners can use to help leap the wall and escape the horns.  I gave it a shot and Rick caught me when I launched into the stands. 

There is also a somewhat restored Roman theater in Arles.  This area of France was a solid part of the Roman Empire and even part of Italy from time to time in history.  There are still quite a few Roman ruins in the area left for tourists, researchers, and small yellow skinned figures to explore.  The theater has some of the original stage and seating area.  The acoustics are good enough for even a tiny voice to be heard.

I took my place on the stage and addressed the huge crowd that had gathered.  I began my speech with, “Friends, Romans, Plastic men, lend me you ears, I don’t have any.”

The province area of France is known for many things including the fine dining to be had there.  Fresh seafood dishes are plentiful and rich Provincial sauces and seasonings are world famous.  Since we would be leaving France shortly, I decided that I must sample the famous French food and partake of a dish that is so identified with France that “French” is in its name.