Advertising | Metro Eireann | Top News | Contact Us
Governor Uduaghan awarded the 2013 International Outstanding Leadership Award  •   South African Ambassador to leave  •   Roddy's back with his new exclusive "Brown-Eyed Boy"  •  
Print E-mail

Singapore’s knocking shop

Last update - Thursday, July 30, 2009, 13:04 By Robert Carry

I suffered a disorienting start to my time in Singapore, the little rich kid and multicultural poster boy of southeast Asia. It began when I booked a room in Hotel 81 on the city’s Geylang Road, only to find that there were in fact eight Hotel 81s along Geylang Road.

Squeaky-clean Singapore has a reputation for being spotless to a fault, but it seems nobody told Hotel 81’s cleaning lady. My room – when I eventually found it – was manky, and for some reason had a disconcerting amount of other people’s hair clinging to various surfaces. I knew something was amiss, but at that point couldn’t figure out what.
I reported this dereliction of the elusive cleaner’s duties to the good-looking young lady at reception, and she responded with a new room key and a frosty smile bordering on a grimace. Sadly, my new room was just as disgusting.
Considering there were eight Hotel 81s, each one at least 20 storeys tall with a minimum of 30 rooms per floor, I didn’t fancy measuring the hair content of all 4,800 rooms. So I cleaned the place myself as best I could, took a shower and headed out determined to spend as little time in the hotel as possible during my two-day stay.
Southeast Asians are renowned the world over for their friendliness and optimistic attitude, so I was expecting Singaporeans – the only nation on the sub-continent with the cash to make their positive outlook seem justified – to be an extremely cheerful lot. Instead, I found stony-faced glares – and pedestrians who appear to believe it’s physically possible to actually walk straight through westerners when they get in your way.
After being jostled off the footpath and into the road by the 20th be-suited dour little creep in the space of a half an hour, I decided a pit-stop was the only thing that would save the next clown from a daylight smackdown, and my subsequent sentencing to lashes or hanging or some other delight from Singapore’s big book of medieval punishments.
I pulled up a chair at a roadside eatery and was immediately shouted at by some old bint working there. They didn’t take orders, you see – one queues, point outs the required items and then pays. But it seems anyone not privy to this knowledge should be abused at full volume in a variety of languages. I ended up selecting some slop or other, paid and took my seat while the woman snapped something I’m sure was equivalent to “Not that f***ing hard, is it?” in Malay.
Across the street I noticed a couple of people slowly sipping beers, which looked like a nice idea. So I hopped over and ordered a Tiger, the country’s national beer, only to choke at the price – 22 Singapore dollars, which is in the region of €12. No wonder the other patrons were drinking so slowly!
I had only been here a few hours but I couldn’t help it – I already hated Singapore. I was also sure there was something very odd about Geylang Road, as the night closed in and I nursed the most expensive beer I’d ever had. There were a lot of pretty women about, but they seemed to be just standing around. The blokes, on the other hand, were all on the move.
A middle aged guy who looked to be Indian stopped and began chatting with a pale, shy-looking girl of Chinese origin about half his age. She nodded furtively, they headed off together – and suddenly everything fell into place. The ludicrous number of grotty hotel rooms, the girls standing still, the guys pushing past – Geylang Road was a giant, open-air knocking shop!
The streets around Geylang were heaving with what must have been tens of thousands of people as I headed back towards my hotel, and the female half were on the game. By the time I reached my own Hotel 81, there was actually a queue of couples who had clearly never met before waiting to get checked in.

The following night I met up with a former work colleague from my time in Bangkok who had since relocated to the Lion City. He showed me around the magnificent harbour area and brought me out for a beer in a swanky rooftop bar in the old China Town, which afforded views of the whole city. When I told him about my Geylang Road experience, he mentioned that prostitution was actually legal in Singapore – a status not enjoyed even in raunchy Bangkok!
The tourist heart of Singapore was a far cry from Geylang, but still not a place I could take to; the people were just as pushy and unfriendly. If you ever get the chance to go to Singapore yourself, I suggest you skip it. Unfortunately, my return flight is already booked.

To be continued...

Latest News:
Latest Video News:
Photo News:
Kerry drinking and driving
How do you feel about the Kerry County Councillor\'s recent passing of legislation to allow a limited amount of drinking and driving?
I agree with the passing, it is acceptable
I disagree with the passing, it is too dangerous
I don\'t have a strong opinion either way
Quick Links