There is a word in Hebrew slang – סחי, which I’ll transcribe as ‘sahi’ (the h is pronounced like the noise you make before you spit, kinda like the j in Javier, but dirtier) it literally means not inebriated, or more specifically not stoned, but broadly and figuratively it evolved to generally describe a certain kind of person. It can be a bit hard to explain what sahi is, while there is some correlation between being a sahi and substances consumption, it does not mean straight edge, not drinking/smoking does not make you a sahi, and hitting the bong does not preclude you from being one.
How shall I explain?
It’s the type of person that proudly say stuff like “I don’t need to drink to have fun, I’m high on life”, the kind who thinks Alanis Morissette is edgy, the person who would go and see a show like that -
I know that can be a bit of a sad existence, but sahis and sahettes, I got good news for you, there is a place just for you – the lion city, the land of polo shirts and cargo pants, Singapore – the sahiest place on earth.
It’s clean, safe, well run and oh my fucking god is it bland. The Hopi people say the world was created with a song, and if it’s true (teach the controversy!) then Singapore was created by elevator music.
Now I generally refuse to research my travels, my laziness is principled dammit, but even so, I should’ve seen the warning signs.
- First thing everybody says about Singapore is that it has a great airport, and don’t get me wrong, the airport is great, probably the best I’ve ever been to, but what type of place try to sell itself by its airport? I guess places like Atlanta, but at least they got Ludacris there. Shit, Hong Kong got a great airport, but no one ever said “you should go to Hong Kong, the airport is great”. That’s the type of thing you’re proud of when you got little going for you.
- When I asked about places to drink, everyone recommended going to hotel bars, and don’t get me wrong, it got some pretty nice hotel bars, but come on, drinking in hotels? There is only one place on this planet that is able to pull it off (barely) and that’s Los Angeles. I drank in LA, I know LA, LA is a friend of mine, and sorry Singapore, you’re not LA . Also, $20 drinks get old, fast.
- When getting food recommendations, first thing everyone says is a food court, and don’t get me wrong, the food is pretty good (though it can’t hold a candle to places like Beijing, Chengdu, Taipei etc.) but come on, a food court? And in case you’re wondering, yeah, this is a food court like you think it is, plastic chairs, plastic trays, plastic everything and all the ambience of a suburban mall.
But whatever, I was drunk and promised my friends I’ll meet them there, and as Ernest Hemingway said - “always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut”. So I followed that advice and booked a ticket. Well, I followed half of that advice, no way I was going to handle that place sober; maybe that’s why I never learned to shut my mouth.
And holy shit is this place boring, it’s 80% shopping malls by volume, and everything else looks as authentic as a Vegas themed hotel, like, New York New York has a more urban feel than Singapore.
And speaking of New York, there is of course no street art anywhere, because an upstanding city like Singapore will not tolerate such thug culture, but since the kids are really into this hippity hop thing, the government decided to allow a controlled and regulated expressions of graffiti on officially sanctioned canvases (at least until dem kids grow out of that phase). I was only able to spot one, it’s in a mall, behind a velvet rope -
The tag is the name of the mall.
Keeping it extra real.
Now it’s important to note here that I’ve only spent 4 nights there, and there is definitely a chance that there are some awesome things to be see and do there. In fact, I’m almost certain there are. You put 6 million people together, you’re bound to get something interesting going on, or at the very least a holocaust joke. But I always believed that the ability to walk around and find cool interesting stuff is a measure of a great city, and it’s not only about what you actually find, great cities has this magical feeling that something cool might be going on around the next corner. In Singapore you get the feeling that there’s might a Dave Matthews listening party on the next block.
But wait, what if you’re not just an average sahi but an ultra sahi prime, the type of person who thinks that Hootie and the Blowfish are too urban?
Fear not, Singapore has a place just for you, and it’s call Sentosa, it’s a resort Island near Singapore, and boy, it makes Singapore proper looks like south central.
It has nice beach bars and some pretty beaches, but fuck, just look at this shit –
They also built these fake islands next to the shore to block the view of the countless merchant ships surrounding Singapore. No clue why they did it, this floating city of globalized commerce is maybe the coolest thing about Singapore. It’s not like it worked -
But sahis beware, Sentosa is not without its dangers!
And you if really want to take it to the next level, Jackie Chan got you covered –
What’s tragic is that Singapore has a great starting point, it’s really ethnically diverse, with plenty of Chinese, Malaysians, Indians and westerners. It got nice beaches, jungles and it’s situated in one of the coolest parts of the globe (cool like the Fonz, not like the weather, which is anything but) and it has some crazy history with pirates and stuff (sadly, ‘stuff’ also include genocide, and yeah, it involves the Japanese and British empires, the wonder twins of southeast Asian genocide), not to mention that being a city state they do not have to deal with rural fucknuts in flyover country. Yet with all that going on for it, they still managed to apply heavy coat of beige and turd that polish into Bellevue of the southern seas.
Now with all that being said, you’d think I had a bad time, and nothing can be farther from the truth – good friends, good food, good drinks, many of them inthe pool, I definitely enjoyed myself. And I can even understand why someone would like to take a break of the grime and hassle of much of Asia and go to a more white people friendly place (don’t look at me like that, it’s pretty much the sales pitch of Singapore tourism board) and if it wasn’t so god damn expensive I could even recommend it. But as it currently stands, there are just better options, go to a an all inclusive resort in Thailand or Vietnam if that’s your thing – better food, better beaches, more to see and do and at a fraction of the price. And if you want to do an “Asia in easy mode” vacation where everyone speaks English, go to Taiwan, it’s superior in every way.
I guess there is good shopping there, I’m probably not the most qualified person to talk about it, but I don’t know, it’s just malls, yeah, they’re clean malls, but there is nothing there that you can’t find in your average Western city and for half the price. I guess there are many of them in one place? So if you’re a person who think an outlet is good thing for reasons other than price it might be down your alley, but if you do, you might just be a sahi.
I have observed a small break in the sea of sahiness though. Singapore might be governed by rich and powerful business people, but it’s ran and maintained by migrant workers, since you know rich people ain’t keeping the streets so clean and roads so pothole free. Many of them are from India and Bangladesh, and on Sunday night, their one day off, they all swarm to little India, and for a few precious hours, at least small part of Singapore looks like a real place where people actually live instead of a gated community for shopping malls.
The best meal I had in Singapore was also there, it might’ve been the best Indian food I had outside of India.
There is this ominous looking apartment building watching over it all, it looks like a place where they breed judge dredds, I don’t know, it’s probably just aesthetic choice, and a good one at that, but I’d like to believe that it’s there to make sure they don’t betray the law.
And when the clock strikes 9, buses come in to whisk them away into whatever slum they live in, back to being the mostly invisible attendants in the world biggest amusement park. At least they don’t make them wear costumes.