Asia Dispatch Week: Singapore Wrap-up
Filed Tuesday, 10/18/2005, 7:28 AM by Kirin Sapporo
Location: Tokyo, Japan
I left Singapore feeling a bit dismayed about what's happening to the rest of the world. Let me explain.
I came expecting to see and feel like I was in some exotic locale, given the fact that I was near the equator 10,000 miles away from New York. But in the end, the heavy hand of American culture could be felt everywhere. At first, for example, I was under the impression that the food fair centers everywhere in the city were called "Hokku Centers," but on my last day there, I saw a sign and realized that they were called "Hawker Centers," named after the way the vendors walk around promoting their wares.
I stopped by a place called Bar None one night that had a live band; they were all Chinese, yet they were playing REM, U2, and the other, predictable pop icon suspects. Strangely enough, the lead singer sounded uncannily like Michael Stipe.
I met an assistant to a business contact who had never been to New York but seemed to know everything about it. She asked about the subway terror threat and whether Nick and Jessica had really split up. Eating and shopping are their two biggest pastimes.
Despite the preconceptions, Singapore is very clean but not pristine. One day I saw what suspiciously looked like "homeless man poo" in a corner of the subway station.
The men who frequent the red light district are nearly all Westerners. For $150 USD you can get full service from a Malaysian hooker who looks like Jessica Alba. For $50 USD you can get a blowjob from a Thai hooker who looks like a poor man's version of Lil' Kim [Ed. note - SOLD!].
We have more to fear from Starbucks than we first thought.
So I'm in Tokyo now, and it's very much the busy, brimming city that you'd expect. Things are really far apart here. You think Manhattan is big - it takes 2 hours to go from one side of the city to the other.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - Paris Hilton and Britney Spears have had a profound effect on the way people around the world dress. The schoolgirls here with their short skirts and knee-length boots could easily be mistaken for Asian fetish porn stars. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
More about Tokyo to come...