The Progster

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Evil Juice

A couple of weekends ago I was sitting at the bar in a mexican resturaunt minding my own business as a few folks gathered near me to celebrate a birthday. I later found that it was Malcolm (very non Singaporean name) and he was 39. Anyway Malcolm and his wife had a shot each of Tequila from an evil looking jar that was full of Chili peppers. This was followed by about 6 glasses of ice water, though Malcolm's wife turned distinctly white and dissapeared to the ladies for over half an hour. So Malcolm's fun filled friend decides the lone guy sitting next to them at the bar should join in this merriment. Now I'm rarely one to turn down a challenge, but I tell you, that jar looked decidedly evil. It had the look of something you would see in a hall of anatomy, some spare body parts preserved in formaldahyde. So I say, only if you join me, at which point it doesn't seem such a fun idea any longer. Five minutes of discussion later we both downed a class of this stuff. It wasn't too bad . . at first. I sat there smiling, while his face got redder and redder before he reached for the ice water and downed several glasses. I eventually succumbed and took some water, but it just seemed to make it hotter. After 5 minutes I felt a warm glow all down my insides. I think a glass of paint stripper would have had the same effect. Even the bartender who poured the glasses said his fingers were burning from this stuff. Apparently they make this themselves. Over 50 chilis in a jar, filled up with Tequila, ouch!

So if you ever find yourself alone in a Mexican resturaunt, avoid the birthday party crowd, or you might just end up taking the Chili Tequila challenge.

Friday, August 25, 2006

What I love about Singapore

I was taken aback last week when someone who I think of as having a showbiz kind of lifestyle thought my work sounded 'glam'. This was partly due to the fact that I was in Singapore again for a couple of weeks. Third time this year (I know yawn, yawn) . A few things started telling me I'm there too much. For one I was being offered free beer from the managers of two pllaces I go to often when I'm there. This was at Brewerkz, which is a microbrewery owned by an Aussie, which goes down a treat with the ex-pats, tourist and a few of the locals. The other was Cafe Iguana, which is a mexican resturaunt. As if that's not enough, when one of the waiters knocks my remaining 1/4 pint over me, the manager comes over and apologises to me, using my surname and brings me a jug of beer. I can only imagine he got my name from my credit card on a previous visit, but that's customer service for you in a place where almost everyone is transient. The fact that the stains didn't come out in the washing is another matter !

Anyway - What I Love about Singapore

The temperature is almost always 32 degrees all year round
When you walk outside during the day for the first 5 minutes it's like being wrapped in a huge warm duvet
They have a micro brewery called Brewerkz
Everyone speaks English
You can take pictures like the one above and get it published in 3 calendars
The food is great and pretty inexpensive
The girls in Singapore still think boob tubes and mini ra-ra skirts are still fashionable
They drive on the proper (left hand) side of the road
Chart CDs (official ones) are only 5 quid each
The mains sockets are UK 3 pin ones
Taxis are cheap, and there are over 10,000 of them
It is one of the safest places on earth. A female can walk around alone at 3am without fear. It is a very rules and laws based society - fines for many minor offences like not flushing a public toilet, spitting in public, picking flowers etc. They also use the cane as punishment in conjunction with prison. This is one way they keep the crime figures down.

What I hate about Singapore

The humidity is almost always 96 degrees all year round
When you walk outside during the day, after the first 5 minutes it feels like you are starting to melt from the inside out
It is a 14 hour flight from London, that's after the 5 hours to get from Edinburgh and wait in Heathrow
The rules thing can be a bit oppressive at times. While walking in Orchard road one busy Saturday afternoon, my hand accidently brushhed against a womans leg as she passed me and in a panic, all I could think of was the previous day's paper article about a guy getting 6 lashes of the cane for touching a girls bum as he passed on his bicycle. Thankfully she just walked on.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Catching up

I am just sooo behind with everything it seems. A couple of weeks on holiday, and a couple of weeks away with work just seems to fly past. I have a load of pictures to get formatted and uploaded to my PBase account sometime amoungst other things.

Well . . . the holiday cruise to the Baltic Capitals was excellent. Highlights were of course St. Petersburg. Tallinn in Estonia, Stockholm and going through the Keil canal.

The canal was kind of surreal. OK the ship was the largest vessel ever to pass thorugh the canal (had to tip the funnel and main mast to get under the bridges), but the number of people who lined the canal to wave was unbelievable. They even covered bridges, and just about every conceivable vantage point.

Tallinn still has the medieval town look with cobbled winding streets, and large squares. They also sold an innordinate amount of flavoured vodkas and liquers.

Stockholm was was a very nice riverside city, with a parliament and palace (a bit like London but with a much nicer waterfront). The Vasa museum was very interesting. The Vasa was the largest wooden warship built for the Swedish Navy, but the designers got carried away with size, and it toppled over and sank in the harbour right after it was launched in 1628. They now have it recovered and in a museum of it's own. Trouble is, it seems to have a mould problem which if not sorted will rot the ship. Amazing, it has sat in the water for almost 400 hundred years, and now it is out of the water it could rot in just a few.St. Petersburg was just so over the top in decorated palaces and churches. Hardly surprising Russia had 3 revolutions when you see how much money the Tzars were spending on their palaces and art collections while the poulation were starving. Incredible also to hear the stories of the seige of St. Petersburg during WW2, where almost 3 million civillians lived under terrible conditions for 900 days. Almost 800 thousand died, mostly during the extremely cold winters.