Sorry I haven't updated in three and a half days but I have been travelling all over the place and have yet to find a reliable internet connection. I am also sorry that this computer is not letting me put in an LJ cut for whatever reason - please forgive me just this once.
The weekend was characterised by furmeets, both in Singapore and Malaysia. It was great meeting the local furs and thanks to all who turned up to greet me. It was great getting to know you all and the last two days are amongst some of the best times I have had on this vacation. If you are ever in England then let me know and I am sure we can hook up.
On Saturday, the Singapore Furs and I headed over to Sentosa, which means Beauty and Tranquility in Sanskrit (I think). However, it was far from beautiful or tranquil as it has now been turned into a giant amusement park for Singaporeans who want to get away from the city. Sentosa is a tiny island just off the south coast of Singapore island and to get to it, you need to take a monorail or a cable car. We opted for the former due to vertigo fears amongst some of the furs. This we did and we arrived at the beach in the scorching midday heat. We walked along it for a bit but the heat was stifling. It was great seeing the anchored boats off the coast of the island though - there are many freight containers that are just stranded there - the port not accepting their cargoes due to the global economic downturn. There must have been over 100 bobbing in the calm cool sea. The beach was golden and sandy and the tropical islands of Indonesia, which were barely a few miles away, made for a perfect backdrop.
After this, we headed to Fort Siloso on the western tip of the island. This was the fort that was built by the British to defend its interests in Singapore against sea-bound attack. However, it was never used on ships - the only time it was required was to defend the city against the Japanese who invaded Singapore through Malaysia on 8 February 1942. The huge battle guns and cannons thus had to be rotated around to face landwards (the British didn't think a Japanese attack through Malaya would have been possible) and they started bombing their own city to keep the Japanese out. A week later, Britain surrended to the Japanese in what was described by Winston Churchill as our most humiliating surrender in our history. As a final act, the British soldiers destroyed the major oilworks to prevent them from going into Japanese hands, before tipping all the cannons into the sea below. Three and a half years later, Singapore was liberated and Japan's unconditional surrender was signed at Fort Siloso in September 1945. At Fort Siloso we also went into some of the underground bunkers, saw an officers' mess, went into a recreation of a Victorian boat that would have transported the troops from Blighty to Singapore and discovered a lot about WWII in SE Asia, which is something that we don't really get taught in history in the UK. The Japanese occupation of Singapore was an interesting period to look at, as well as them getting the PoWs to build the notorious Siam-Thailand railway. Kai also bought me an army dog tag, which was really sweet of him :)
Feeling a little peaky, I decided to have a cheese chicken hotdog, which only made me worse. Next, we headed up to the Imbiah area, after deciding that going on the luge that promised thrills and spills but which looked as exciting as riding a tricycle down some rough concrete was a collosal waste of money. So we caught the monorail again and headed into the huge entertainment district, which has cinemas, nature trails and various other ways you can part with your money. I decided to forgo the nature trail, despite everyone else being keen, due to my fear of snakes. Indeed Kai had to look out for tree snakes on my behalf at Fort Siloso after I felt weak when looking at the signs warning of the danger. To me, there is nothing more horrendous than a snake falling on my head from a tree. After all this snake avoidance though - here and in Indonesia where I was in the countryside predominantly - we saw a long, thin yellow bastard with his snake charmer friend. Bloody typical. This was next to the Tiger Beer look out point - a huge cylinder with something that looked like a revolving restaurant attached to it. You sat in it, it roated slowly as it went up the cylinder and stayed there for a bit, giving you a panoramic view of Singapore. It then brought you back down again.
I decided to forgo that as I had already entered the Merlion with Junias. This is the national symbol of Singapore. Singapura, the Sanskrit name for Singapore, means Lion City. Their mascot is a creature with a lion's head and a mermaid's body, the latter to symbolise the city's fishing past. This is why it's called the Merlion. I am trying to get the furs to petition the Government to change it to the Murrlion. Anyways, there is a giant statue in the centre of Imblah and you can go through the Merlion exhibit. This is in the bowels of the Merlion, which was quite apt, as it was pretty shitty. It focused on legends and myths of the sea but it was done in quite a tacky way. Then there was a film about the history of the Merlion, which was interesting. We then got the opportunity to take a lift up the Merlion and view Singapore from the top of his head and also inside his mouth. It was like tourist vore. The panorama was great - again we could see the ships but we also saw Indonesian and Malaysian islands, skyscrapers and the fact that Singapore is a city undergoing massive construction work. At night, the Merlion undergoes a transformation and is lit up with many optic fibre lights. It was very stark against the pink sky of the dusk - indeed it was pink full stop as he was lit in pink and yellow floodlights too. Lasers also occasionally shot out of his eyes. It was mental, standing in the fountain garden watching it :-)
Feeling the need for some food and realising we had exhausted all the good stuff that wasn't an immense rip off, we headed back to the Harbour Front area in Singapore for some traditional Singaporean Pizza Hut. We ordered four 3 Lava (i.e. stuffed crust with three different cheeses) pizzas - of which the chicken curry pizza was the most exotic. They also serve some rice dishes too but in the main, the pizzas are the same and you still get that nausceous bloated feeling upon leaving. After this, I bade my friends adieu and headed back to the hostel. It had truly been an excellent day and it was great to spend time with some excellent furs.
Yesterday's Malaysia meet was just as good. Getting into Malaysia was difficult due to the queues at customs and at 8am after being up at 6am, it was somewhat frustrating. It took an hour and a half in the end. Still, I managed to sleep a lot on the bus as we zipped past numerous palm oil plantations - the very plantations that are decimating the rainforest ecosystem throughout the world. I also noticed that Malaysia has a complicated system of toll roads - you can't go more than about 10km on the motorways here without having to pay a toll, it seems. They also aren't big fans of toilet paper. There is a dizzying array of toilets to choose from though - sit down toilets, squat toilets, full body urinals, small urinals, children's urinals (which are also in the ladies' apparently) and disabled and family toilets as well. They all have those anal douches though, which is difficult for me to comprehend as I would spray it all over my trousers, getting cack everywhere. And how do you dry? Thankfully, the toilet paper situation is fine in the malls in KL - must just be the service stations.
Upon arriving in Kaula Lumpur, the thing that strikes you is how Western the city is. There are cars everywhere (unlike in Indoesia) and it doesn't have the same Chinese feel that Singapore has. Like Singapore, there are lots of malls but it is less commercial than the Lion City. Upon being dropped off in the Bangsar district under a bridge, I was at a loose end as this is miles from the centre of the city. A few phone calls to Canis Enigmas, my furry contact here, and I was soon jumping into a car with two strangers who I had never met nor talked to before. But as in Prague and Helsinki, whenever I jump into the cars of random people I don't know, fun always ensues and this was no different. The car belonged to Kaynine and NX-3000 and they kindly drove me to my hotel, waited as I checked in and then took me to a mall that specialised in gadgets and technology. After some chat about Malaysia, in which I learned a lot about this country, we met up with Canis Enigmas and Tigerbomb, whose first ever fur meet it was.
After this, we decided to grab some food as I hadn't eaten. As Malaysia, like Singapore, is a cultural melting pot, there is no such thing as Malaysian cuisine. I was told to think spice so we went to a Chinese place where I had fish ball soup (tasty but the balls were a little rubbery) and minced chicken spicy noodles. It was very good. Later on, we went to a local Thai restaurant that was essentially a hut with some chairs parked outside it. The food here was most excellent and I had spicy beef with rice. This was very hot but most delicious. We saw cats trying to hump each other and I had a lot of Coca Cola - which my new friends remarked about.
The rest of the day, we had just spent chilling. Fur meets in Malaysia are similar to those in the UK sans the alcohol. We gathered in The Coffee Bean - a SE Asia version of Starbucks - where I had an English Breakfast Tea Latte. I wasn't expecting it in latte form, I was expecting it in normal form, so when it came it was a surprise. Still, it was very good although a little sweet and sickly towards the end. Tea with froth - mmm *wags*. I also picked up a chocolate pastry from a Japanese donut bar - it was like a profiterole but it was chocolate cream that oozed out. We also saw a samba band playing loudly in the mall, flanked by security guards. I think it was there attempt to mesh culture and shopping. Apart from that, we all drew our characters to symbolise the furmeet - this is tradition here - the Malaysian furs are all huge artists - and they kindly gave me the final work as a souvenir. It will be treasured. My drawing was pretty rubbish though :( We also chewed the fat about furs, cons and anthropuppies.
The other thing we did was disappear into the Chinese district. These are often places with the most life out here and this was no exception - bustling market stalls competed to sell the same tat (a lot of it tourist tat) whilst knock-off watches and knock-off CDs and DVDs would have made Knock Off Nigel very proud. It was all cheap though, although I doubt the quality. I also tried a Sajuk, a local sweet drink with a load of jelly in it. It's made from a local fruit and it reminded me of something back home. I'm not sure what though. I also took a picture of all 12 of the Chinese New Year predictions, dependent on your animal. These were displayed on huge posters which were lit up above the market.
It was sad to say goodbye to my new friends this weekend but hopefully we can catch up on IM and meet up again soon. They were excellent company and they told me and showed me a lot of their respective countries. It was great meeting them and it's fantastic to think that the Furry Fandom has allowed me to make friends with people in such distant lands. This, above anything else, is the main strength of this community.