Tonight we sail for Singapore

21 Jan

I was in Singapore last January, and had “Singapore” by Tom Waits stuck in my head the entire time. It kept popping up like a happy thought and put a bouncy, surrealistic veneer over the whole adventure. Now that I think about it, that bouncy, surrealistic veneer might also have had something to do with being on painkillers because I broke my right arm in Vietnam the week before… but back to the point.

Singapore is an amazing place for creative inspiration. I wanted to share some pictures with you in the hopes that the bright colors and tropical patterns will brighten up January’s winter mood.

First up, Some images from Little India. I really liked this part of town. There were lots of small fruit stands with dragonfruit, mangosteens, and other tropical delights. Many of the buildings featured brilliant paint combinations and fun architectural elements.

There was awesome shopping at the Mustafa Center, which is open 24 hours a day. Even if you don’t feel like buying anything, it’s worth going just for the spectacle and the sheer scale of their departments.

Singapore isn’t a big place, and the tape department (for example) was so well-stocked that it looked like they had three rolls of tape for every man, woman, and child on the island.

Likewise, the princess dress department took up an entire room. The petticoats were so fluffy and the dresses were so tightly packed that it was physically difficult to walk through the aisles. It felt a bit like being gently packed in a giant box of sequined bonbons.

To contrast the pastel sweetness of the fluffy dresses, the next destination was a sari shop. The colors were intoxicating – tangerine orange, neon pink, and deepest purple – shot through with gold threads and embellished to the nines. The best part was the scraps. The shop had huge bins full of bolt-ends and other scraps, all neatly folded and packaged in clear plastic envelopes.

The last photo I wanted to share is of batiks. Batiks are native Indonesia rather than Singapore, but there are some gorgeous specimens of the machine-printed (as opposed to wax-resist) varieties.

Do you have favorite travel destinations for creative inspiration?