Singapore over the Chinese New Year holiday

After celebrating in the new Chinese Year I had a pretty relaxing new years day like the rest of Singapore appeared to be doing. The first thing of note I did was watch the British horror movie “Eden Park” this was a great film until the end. It started subtle with some teenagers cycling across a red light (which is a crime in UK the average Oxford don probably commits.). The movie in general is great as mostly it just twists the rules of society and adds a bit of ignorance to create a great horror film. There are no monsters or demons in this film which is great. The film is flawed though in the last 2 minutes which turns it from the probable overall winner of the Patrick Levy award for cinematography to something little better than Four Christmases. If you watch it walk out in the scene with the inflatable swimming pool.

Then I went to the waterfront to see another free concert though this one wasn’t as good as the last one I saw and I walked off early before I returned to my hostel. Once back I found a copy of the Economist which I read – primarily to see why the British currency is quite so weak at the moment (it’s up to US$1.40=£1 today). On reading the magazine I did answer a curious question about racism in the UK that I’ve been pondering for a while. Now it is true in the UK that most of the rich areas are mostly full of only whites but that most people there have no/little overt problem with ethnic minorities. The issues is more subtle than this and there is actually a lot of pregudice based on class instead – as blacks and asians start more likely to be poor then due to this class pregudice they don’t get richer.

Of course there is a flip side to this argument as the economist also published an article on some psycological research on racism which said that although people aren’t overtly racist they don’t seem to act appalled when someone is racist in front of them.

The next day, which in the west would be Boxing Day, I first went to McDonalds again as the food courts still appear to be closed. After this I had a little shopping to do as I managed to lose my washbag. Of course the most expensive part of the replacement was the washbag itself; it was also the los difficult to replace and it took 2 hours including a lot of time borrowing the Singaporean free wifi (Singapore has free wifi practically nationwide now – well at least in the numerous shopping centres.) to find something. After this it was getting quite late so I headed to the Singapore botanic gardens for an hour or so to wander around. It was good; especially the national orchid garden which was beautiful though being a public holiday it was fairly busy.

Lima, Lima, Lima

So after 3 weeks in Argentina I am now in Lima. My flight from Buenos Aires last night was excellent and I watched “Great Expectations” starring Gwyneth Paltrow as well as the first episode of Prison Break, which looks like a good series.

After arriving at Lima Airport I got a taxi to the centre to find a room, and spent the night in a 3* hotel in the city centre. As I was taken by a taxi driver it was expensive at US$40 (I did save some money by refusing the first offer of US$70 accommodation and going to Miraflores which is apparently expensive but where tourists generally stay), but as the bus back into BA and accommodation at a hostel would have cost about the same it was money well spent. The accommodation was also pretty nice and included breakfast.

Then this morning I got a taxi to my new accommodation where I was supposed to be staying and after sorting out a few details and picking up a SIM card for US$6. I had a wander around the area. Lima is very poor, and unlike anywhere else I’ve been people were offering mobile phones for making calls. Though to be fair in Argentina there are lots of places offering long distance calls as well as internet access.

At lunchtime I grabbed some delicous food which only cost US$2, which was a nice change on BA, where I seemed to spend US$10 on every meal. That also included the US$0.33 tip, which was rather high, though I didn’t have any smaller coins to leave, and the food was very nice.

In the afternoon I had a wander around. Some of the streets near my hostel are being rebuilt so that was fun, but it was interesting to see the good architecture. Then for dinner I wandered up to Plaza San Martin which is very posh and had a chat with a Peruvian who wanted to practice his English which was interesting. I then grabbed some dinner from a Chinese takeway, which as it was in a posher part of town was more expensive than lunch but still good.

Then I headed back to the hostel to wait for my friends flights from England and write this post.

More Spanish, MABLA and Tigre

So yesterday I actually did something a little more interesting than just resting.

Firstly I went to the police station to report the theft of my camera. This took about an hour. After that I grabbed some lunch before my Spanish lesson in the early afternoon I made some more progress and was able to figure out the menu of the Chinese restaurant I went to in the evening. I have also learnt some Spanish chat up lines including the classic Do you come here often? Which is ¿Venís siempre acá? en Español. I haven’t (yet :p) asked my teacher whether it’s also a double endentre in Spanish or whether that is only in English.

Anyhow in the afternoon after my Spanish lesson I headed to Palmero, one of the districts I had previously missed here in Buenos Aires. In palmero I went an saw a museum of modern art called MALBA which was a modern art museum that was free to students! Anyhow they had an interesting exhibit by Félix González-Torres. This was an interactive exhibit and I got to pick up various bits and pieces including free sweets from around the gallery. It was quite interesting actually. They also had some other galleries which were also worth seeing. One of the most interesting pictures was one of the centre of BA in the 1930’s it looked gorgeous, and is definitely somewhere I’d have liked to live at that time.

After that I headed back to my accommodation. On the train I was accosted by the usual people trying to beg or sell crap that I don’t want. It is incredibly irritating and I just ignore them as I learnt last year in south-east Asia. The Buenos Aires citizens aren’t as cold-hearted as me though; maybe there is no money from the government for these people, which given Argentina is the 31st (23rd by PPP) richest country in the world there really should be. I suppose there are lots of people digging through rubbish in the streets which I didn’t see in south-east Asia so there is clearly a very serious poverty issue here. There is also a lot of guilt about the problem. Begging isn’t just confined to the streets and public transport here. It is also even happens in coffee shops.

Then this morning I got up fairly early and headed to the Tigre delta outside BA as my Spanish lesson isn’t until 6pm. I went on the train which wasn’t particularly crowded and was also only a little more expensive than a Subte ride which in itself is very cheap (US$0.30). Once I got to the delta I booked myself on a boat tour of the delta and then went off to have some lunch. For lunch I had some Milanese which is beef in breadcrumbs and is a speciality of the region which was nice. I also had some (freshly squeezed – and therefore expensive at US$2.60) orange juice for my fruit portion of the day. It’s actually hard to eat enough fruit here as most of the stuff in the supermarkets seems to have lots of blemishes. So much so that you aren’t sure if its fit to eat or maybe that’s just Tesco brainwashing me.

Then i wet on the boat tour. The boat tour itself was only OK, there was no commentrary (even in Spanish) and it was pretty expensive at US$10 for a 2 hour trip. I did finally get to see some people who looked like they had money on the boat; given the poverty in the centre it was kind of uncomfortable, though certainly to an extent I was looking at a mirror back of myself. The trip itself did seem to be an expensive camera photoshoot of the delta and posed people on the boat so I guess I missed out on the full experience as I didn’t have a camera.

Then I headed back to Buenos Aires for my Spanish lesson. The journey wasn’t entirely uneventful. I had to jump the barrier at the train station as it wouldn’t accept my ticket and I had to block the door of the Subte train as I was too far back to get off (the stop for Milhouse is one after the busiest station on the Subte system) before I had my Spanish lesson at the hostel. After that I headed back to my accommodation on the edge of the city and I had dinner at the local Italian (which was very nice) before going to bed after a long day.

Argentina and Flying

Due to the fact that I’m flying in and out of BA (Buenos Aires) I’ll be spending quite a bit of time there. I also have a visa to apply for here which may restrict my movement a bit. Anyway this is also the first city I’m going to where I don’t know anyone and the first time I’ve been to South America.

I have until Monday evening in BA when I head up to Puerto Iguazu one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world (it’s beautiful enough that Ellanor Roosevelt said “poor Niagra” when she saw it) and then into the jungle away from civilization for a few days.

Now although American doesn’t know how to fly a plane on time they do know how to (not) fill one. I’ve had two seats to myself for the whole flight which has been great and I’ve slept fairly well. Due to my direction of travel going anticlockwise around the world when I get to a new country I generally just “stay up late” so this means the next time I’m going to need to sleep on a flight is on my flight to Singapore from India at Chinese New Year.

Even before landing I can see that Argentina looks very barren and that a lot of farmers are burning their land.

The trip in from the airport was interesting the buildigs seemed very European and there was a lot of cross between rich and poor. On the bus I think I got a return by accident and then got the subte to the hostel which was very busy but otherwise fine.

Anyway I’m now off to get some lunch and have a wander around.

Arrived in New York

After waiting for an hour to clear security, I picked up my waiting bag and caught the subway to the hostel. The train arrived promptly and thanks to the fact that new York subway trains don’t call at every stop we were soon in the centre of Manhatten. One thing I noticed about the subway was that aside from a few British tourists everyone else on the train looked poor (and they were also mostly Black or Hispanic) which was strange compared to public transport everywhere else I’ve used it (admittedly that is just Europe and Singapore :p). The train was also covered in graffiti and the stations looked pretty dodgy. The tube is great in comparison!

Anyway, enough on public transport, I did get to Manhattan and to my hostel. The hostel seems very cool and friendly and seems like a nice place to start my journey. It is also close to the sites and in a neighbourhood called Chelsea which seems like an average place to stay (the only thing it has on common with Chelsea in London is the cars parked on the street but there they belong to the staff)

After I arrived I went out to get some food, I got some African food from a restuarant just up the road it was quite spicy but tasty and very filling, definitely an interesting choice. New York is definitely the most multicultural place I’ve been so it should be interesting. Tomorrow I’ll be off to time square and then to have a explore of the city.

I’ll try and get some pictures up tomorrow when I’m using a computer not my iPod to post a blog post.