Sunday, May 23, 2010


Once more, up early. Always up early – always to sleep late. Now sure that late sleep is my fault, but still – being up and ready to go at 9am, that's too much after twelve hours under the sun. The air conditioner can only do so much.

Today should be different though. There should not be all that much going on – we're just headed out to the lovely island of Sentosa. It's cute that little Singapore has even smaller islands which once can head on over to. Sentosa is the most popular of them all. What's the least popular? Probably the military island. It's not even on the maps that you grab around here. The other tiny islands are on the map, but military island? Nothing.

All men need to serve two years in the national defense forces. And it's strange to look around and think that they all have that training. I've mentioned this before, and when wandering around I mostly forget this fact. But how does that service colour their experience? The way they see the world? The way they see each other?

Ironically if the men were ever called back to serve, they'd be under female officers, who join by choice and often stay on.

But again, we were not headed to this Battle Royale-(I can only assume)-esque island, we were headed to Sentosa(!) and with a myterious VIP card that was obtained some how we speak not of, it was free. All free! Entrance and transportation to the island? Free. Access to the fort? Free. Checking out the Merlion? Free. The night show? Free. Sky Tower access? Well free, but it was sadly closed. But there would have been no time for it anyway.

And today was supposed to be a quick day.

Heading out to Sentosa required, first, passing through another bookstore. And some toy stores. These never work out for me. But, I noticed I still had money. I wasn't spending any, how could I not still have money in my pockets? And toys, well, they're interesting. I saw one on the shelf, but didn't purchase it. I wanted to – but it just didn't work out. I considered, rather than the awesomeness of it, the space it would take up in my pack.

This would haunt me all day. Well – not really – but I would think back to it now and then.

Over on Sentosa our first order of business was to secure tickets to the show. It would not be for eight more hours, but the pamphlet said to get your tickets early to avoid disappointment. Disappointment was the thing I wanted! So, tickets secured, it was time to see the beach.

A free tram (once you pay to get onto the island) took us down to a stop that was listed as the Southernmost part of Continental Asia. I don't know why it feels it can make this claim, as Singapore is an island, and this is an island on an island, and Indonesia is far more south. But the sign says so and how can I possibly argue with that? Especially since it allows me the opportunity to claim that I've been to the southern most part of Asia, Africa, and South America. I'm not sure that any of those claims are accurate – though I think Africa would have been closest to the truth.

A few people were swimming, and playing with floating beach balls, and running in and out of the water. I was more engaged with trying to figure out how to get my camera to accurately record the greens and blues that I was seeing with my eyes. It was not as easy as I felt it should have been.

After climbing the tower settled at South Point and taking a few shots here and there, it was down the tower and off to the East beach.

The east beach? Despite everyone going to it – staying on the tram, leading me to follow them – is like the South Beach, with one difference: It's covered in earth movers, and other big trucks that want to run you over and crush you. This was not a safe place to be. Teachers walked by with their high school students from the American International school in tow. Going to the beach as a class trip? A terrible idea for so many reasons. Success that we live in Canada where dealing with beach weather during the school year will never be an issue. No one will create a yearly annual trip to collect shells or anything like that. Ahh pretend work on field trips. The trick every teacher employees that's so obvious in retrospect, but never gets found out by students. Mind you, I guess we've conditioned them to accepting ridiculous busy work as just par for the course (note that I'm thinking of myself as a teacher once more. What does that mean?)

Leaving the beach of doom, we headed down to the fort. Fort Siloso, if memory serves. It was once a British fort, and then a Japanese fort (oops) and now it's a Singaporean tourist attraction fort.

Created when the Brits came in to help build up the Singapore people the fort served during World War II to keep the angry Japanese away. There would be no adding Singapore to their new Asian Empire. Nothing could get through the defenses facing out to sea.

Oops. The thing that they forgot was that the Japanese military was a little bit crazy. Far more willing to deal with terrible conditions than the Brits themselves were willing to deal with. Marching, and cutting their way through, two hundred miles of jungle they were able to approach Singapore by land. The island guns then faced inwards, but under constant arial attack, and without any reinforcements the battle was decisive and final.

Walking through the fort today, Valentines day is depicted, also Chinese New Year, and finally the day Singapore fell. The surrender chambers feature models of all the key players signing the surrender. A video explains how the Japanese demanded an unconditional surrender of the British forces. Why anyone would surrender to the Japanese is beyond me. By this point in the war, people must have known that they were not going to let you live. They made the Germans look like pussy cats. A white flag means you're no longer human – you have no honour. And many officers lost their heads in the coming days.

As for Singapore, a history of the occupation in an adjacent room, detailed the horrors that they faced, being forced to wear stamps on their clothing, keeping them unwashed to avoid ruining the ink, else they be classified as undesirables and be marched away never to be seen again. Torture, senseless murder, and slaughter of the Chinese. It was the Japanese way, and it hit Singapore hard.

Not until the far-too-delayed surrender of Japan after the dropping of the nuclear bombs was Singapore released... one month after the Japanese surrender.

The people? Not very happy about how the British acted towards them in their time of need. There was no going back to the way things were, and the seeds of independence starting to grow.

It's hard to picture the horrors in Singapore, an island that is – today – so different than what it once was. And it's hard to picture the Japanese as the monsters. So much has changed in so little time. But old wounds are hard to heal. Still – the modern generations, either forgetting, ignoring, or being unaware of, the sins of their father are helping to merge cultures once more. They forgive because they must.

After leaving the fort behind we headed off to see the Merlion. The Merlion is a giant building shaped as this kinda-sorta mythical creature. Walking in we were subjected to images of horror movies, and creatures of the deep, all leading towards a room that showed a film that explained the story of the Merlion.

You might think that the Merlion is the product of some sailors story... wait – did I properl describe the Merlion? Half fish, half lion? Yeah. So – you may think it is a sailors tale, or the product of some Lovecraftian indunced madness, but no nothing quite so magestic. The tale of the Merlion is this – when Singapore was discovered, the founder was met by a lion who, after whom the island as named. Never mind that lions have never lived in Singapore, we just have to accept this part. What happened next is only based on my conjecture.

The good people of Singapore decided that they needed a new country mascot (this part is true) and they set about to create it. Entering their secret lair, they set to work trying to choose the best possible creature. A gryphon? one might have said, using the lion as a starting point. A sea serpent! another would have shouted. But no, these were all just bad ideas leading to nowhere. At this point they all pulled out their little altoids cases, rolled up something green, and started to smoke.

The next few hours were passed with 'brilliant ideas', laughing, and a phone call to a builder, for something they couldn't really recall. But it must have been funny as there were random pictures are cartoons everywhere, and writing on one of the guys faces.

It wasn't until they walked out of the building, seeing the rushed product – the Merlion - built. Apparently, the contractor said, they had called up and asked for a giant statue you could walk inside that had the HEAD of a lion, because of the original lion, and the BODY of a fish, cause like, the harbour is important and stuff.

It was at that moment that the Singapore people realized the err of their drug addled ways, and came up with the countries new slogan – to be written on all official documents: DEATH to drug traffickers!

I'm pretty sure that's how it went, anyway. It's the only thing that makes sense.

After wandering inside the creature's mouth, looking out, fighting the urge to say Cal-li-for-ni-a we headed down and out to the show.

The show about Oscar. An evil evil fish who wants to bring nothing but darkness to the planet.

Mind you, that's just my interpritation.

I think children were supposed to take the following away from it:
a few teenagers have fun at the beach singing and dancing and playing guitar. One of them sings, and a princess appears in the sky (projected on a sheet of water, in front of a traditional stilts supported fishing village) and he falls in love.

Oscar the fish appears floating with his sea dragon, and squid friends. Oscar tells him to sing and wake her up, and along the way he restores the power of the spirit of fire, water, and light.

The princess wakes at the end, and smiles.

All is well.

But no – that's not what's really going on. I am no small child wiling to just accept what is beng spoon fed to me. I question, I think, and i fear. I fear Oscar the fish.

Yes the kids were at the beach singing, yes a girl appeared, but then Oscar came, far too quickly – and was accepted by all. A princess in the sky? Fine – we can accept that – but a giant talking fish? That really is too much, but no one questions him. Oscar has put a spell on these people, as he has his two friends (more on that to come.)

Oscar says the guy needs to sing. The next time he does, an ancient evil awakes. A molton rock monster. He tells the guy to sing more and restore power. (I think the boys name is Lee – lets go with that) Lee sings and restores the power. The monster then causes fire to erupt from the village, and shoot out of the ground.

Oscar congratulates Lee and sets the next stage in motion, where Lee meets the Light spirit. Once more a creepy floating power demands Lee sing to restore the power, but Lee says, look I just want to save the princess, maybe I'll just go to the village and see if she's there?

Oscar steps in. “No, you don't want to go to the village. You might get trapped by the spell on their... their... well.” Ahh yes, the magic cursed well in 2010. For this takes place in modern times. While Oscar was clearly reaching here, Lee does not question it, I believe due to the glamour Oscar has cast.

Lee sings and restore the light being's power. Lasers are shot out at the village.

Next Lee powers up the water monster, who causes great waves to crash down, and soak the village.

Finally the princess is seen and Lee sings, waking her. She smiles and quickly disappears Then everyone sings about how “Lee did it!” But the friends of Oscar have no memory of this, claiming - “who did it? Who did what?” This seems odd as they encouraged him the whole way. No longer needed, Oscar released his hold on them, and went off.

No there are two ways to see the end. I saw it as Oscar waking the Princess, where once she was safe – though in stasis – she is now free, but in the dark, alone, and soon to die of starvation, suffocation, or fear. Another way to see it – as my faithful companion did, the princess powered up her generals – Oscar acting as herald as they slumbered. Now the forces of dark are ready to rule once more.

Look – all I'm saying, is if your first singing cause a fire being to blow up a village? You should probably rethink your actions.

Seriously – what a bad day for the inhabitants of that town.

Leaving the park we made our way to the mall to catch the train. This time my wacky sized head plush venom was purchased. And all was right in the world. Except for Oscar, who distresses me still.

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