Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Coming Home After 8 Months of Travel- Bury Me With ...

My travels lasted in excess of eight months. I got so used to hurriedly re-packing and moving onwards, I began to see most of my possessions as needless weight, obstacles to closing my suitcase.
I have been home in Los Angeles for a little over two days, and almost as an afterthought did I go to my storage locker. I looked around at everything I owned, and marveled that I would ever need so much. DVD’s, books, all available in digital form today, more clothes than I could ever remember, and kitchenware I have never used.
Of all the things that I owned not named “car,” the only item I remember hoping I’d be able to find during those eight months was the costume The Feared Pirate Richie wears while bestowing treasures he pillaged and plundered from exotic lands upon his Goddaughter.
The ancient Egyptians buried pharaoh with everything that he would need in the spirit world. When I die place me in the Great Pyramid with just my smart phone lying beside me. Technology makes even the afterlife easy.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Singapore Botanical Gardens + Orchid Sanctuary- beautiful

Singapore has carefully cultivated an image and nicknamed itself "The Garden City." Though more and more of the "garden" is being paved over to make way for shopping malls and tourist resorts, more of the island remains green, than say, Manhattan.
One destination that I consider a Must See if you are headed over to Singapore is the Botanical + Orchid Garden. It's one of the most beautiful, and tranquil places I have been, where you can see and read about much of the flora of South East Asia. 
It's free to get into, except for the orchid sanctuary which costs 5 Sing Dollars, making it a very cheap, and relaxing excursion.
Scroll through the following pictures and enjoy them, just make sure to go there if you wind up in Singapore!
Singapore Botanical gardens

petrified trees

beautiful orchids


orchids- what a photo :)

orchids of many colors
a little waterfall through the gardens

majestic orchid- i think- I just like this photo :)

crawling orchids

white orchids
ladies- this is what you call girth

 Look at the width of the tree trunk behind me! That's how you know it's an old tree! 
Christmas like leaves

yellow orchids
so nice
white orchids
orchid sanctuary

bright yellow floral display

orange orchidia- the colors of nature
majestic vegetation

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pulau Ubin Island- tropical paradise of mosquitoes (Singapore)

Tiny, tropical Pulau Ubin Island, lies a kilometer off Singapore and despite only being a ten square kilometers, has a total of fifty million inhabitants; mosquitoes.
Slated for development to create new touristic resorts several years ago, the Singaporeans successfully stood up to the government, (which runs in similar manner to a corporation) stating that they did not want all of nature paved over. Believe it or not, Singapore Inc. listened, and Pulau Ubin remains a tiny remnant of rain forest.
Approaching tropical Lantau Island from a boat

Approaching a tropical island and its lush vegetation is always a sight to behold.
Pulua Ubin Island

I disembark the ferry, having brought enough food and water to spend the rest of the day exploring, and excitedly set off. Parts of the island are like a botanical garden, the vegetation planted, labeled, and maintained.
beautiful leaves
I walk a hundred meters and find myself surprised to be back in Los Angeles, I’m in the middle of a movie set, actors dressed in the royal clothes of ancient China converse in some odd language (I’m guessing Chinese.) ... I stand and watch for a moment, something feels wrong-
SWAT! Instinctively I slam my hand on my arm. A small mosquito is squashed, literally into a bloody pulp. Swarming around me are dozens more, all eagerly awaiting clearance from air traffic control to land. I engage in a mosquito dance, waving my arms and jumping around trying to scare the swarm of beasts away so I can make a run for it.
such a cool tree
Sprinting away I start laughing, glad that these little vampires are as slow of flight as they are of mind. I’m safe here, I stop to catch my breath. Immediately I'm engulfed by a new set of angry blood suckers.
tropical fauna
Run away from one swarm, and another would find me.
I happen upon a group of teenagers who’ve just begun backpacking from a campground they appear where they appear to have stayed the previous night. I can’t imagine this tiny island paved with several roads, which can be mapped entirely in a matter of hours, could be preparing them for any real hardships or teaching them survival skills, other than the practice of wearing mosquito repellent. I walk beside them trying to lose my tail. 
the waterlogged island 
As I explore further, photography becomes a chore, as I almost have to take snap my camera on the run to keep from being boarded by these little terrorists. Stopping for lunch, or pausing to meditate in my lush surroundings are non-starters.
After a couple hours I give up and head back for the ferry, realizing the real reason the government didn’t pave over the entire island is not because it finally listened to its people, but rather the land surveyors were repelled by the vast army of buzzing mosquitoes. At least someone’s finally standing up for nature. SWAT!
looking up at the jungle canopy

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sands Marina Bay- Gambling Paisa Style in Singapore

The start of the rainy season finds me on way to check out the Marina Bay complex in Singapore, where the 5.5 billion dollar Sands Casino Resort in Marina Bay opened in 2011.
Sands Marina Bay three hotel towers at night
Look carefully at the photo, do you notice the humongous, gaudy yacht laying across three hotel towers? It’s a virtual "Where's Waldo."
The rain begins, and we're not talking about precipitation in Los Angeles (a once a year drizzle for five, sometimes five and a half minutes) we're talking about gobs of water falling from the sky so large they literally hurt when they strike your body. I can now sympathize with the ant who had the misfortune of standing under a bathtub faucet as it opened.
In less than a minute I'm drenched, my clothing and shoes soaked through to the bone.
I sprint for the nearest building, taking refuge in a high tech showroom describing the functionality and design of the entire Marina Bay center. I find it fascinating how Singapore tries to tout their “green credentials” when a mammoth amount of resources were used to build, and further maintain, the giant money sucking machine a couple hundred meters away.

As the rain subsides, I make my way towards the complex, using the "Where's Waldo" photo as my compass; exploring the world today requires much wit and acumen.

Two six foot tall, twenty-five year old paper thin blonds in mini-skirts, heels, and Prada bags pass by me; I surmise that Sands Casino has managed to attract some high-rollers. 
Gucci- Sands Marina Bay
Gondolas in Sands marina bay, Singapore
The Political Gamble
At the casino’s entrance, there are two lines, one for non-nationals, and one for natives. A foreign passport gets you in free, show Singaporean identification and get charged a $100 admission fee (good for twenty-four hours.)
Contrary to popular politics in the United States, gambling is NOT a revenue creator, unless the money comes from outside the locality. Kind of like if twenty of us were marooned on a deserted island, and I said, we need to raise money, I am going to chop down this coconut tree to build a roulette wheel, and then the rest of you can keep betting your seashells (currency) until you lose them all to my casino, and I’ll pay taxes on the money to hire one of you to dig us a latrine.
The island “benefits” from the latrine, a ditch digger has his salary, and the rest of you have nothing. Meanwhile with all my new found wealth, I’ve hired someone to build me the Where’s Waldo yacht (with the rest of the coconut wood, cause as a Tea Party member, I don’t care what happens to the rest of society) so I can get the hell off your pathetic, impoverished island, which, with the added carbon emissions my casino has created, will soon be flooded by rising sea levels. Enjoy your roulette wheel, hopefully it floats.

Casinos produce nothing, and serve no social function except to satisfy the apparent insatiable stupidity and need for “thrill” of the masses.
This is why, for years, Nevada has been able to get away with no personal income taxes, as casinos filled state’s coffers from suckers worldwide. Now that people have so many more places to gamble, Las Vegas’s sole competitive advantage is that these behemoth temples to mankind’s avarice and stupidity are such a site to behold, they themselves act as tourist attractions.
the crowded gaming floor from above
The $100 entrance fee for locals is a tax that the goes directly to the Singaporean government, imposed to discourage its citizens from losing their hard earned money to the syndicates. I guess the government believes anyone stupid enough to pay a substantial amount of cash so they can lose more of it, deserves his fate.

Paisa Room Style
I walk onto the casino floor and gaze around at the sea of humanity whose heads bob with the ebb and flow of the cards and dice, the electronic spin of modern day slot machines. Most of the customers are Chinese, the country’s appetite for gambling generally thought to be the greatest of the world’s nationalities. 
just another casino really- lots of $$
I walk upstairs to the VIP area, and converse with a young Singaporean working the door. He’s affable, and willing to discuss virtually any topic.

“Do you think it’s possible for a gambler to win?”
“Well my parents taught me gambling was essentially 50/50, but after working at the casino for the last few months, I’m starting to doubt that.”
 “50/50? They think they build this behemoth on 50/50?”
 “I really don’t know,” he answers sheepishly, a smile on his face.
“Who are the worst tempered gamblers?” I inquire, fully expecting him to say the Chinese, who have horrible reputations as ill mannered, arrogant, uncouth aggressors throughout Asia.
“The Singaporeans,” he answers to my surprise, “I guess they’re doubly mad, cause not only did they lose their money, but had to pay a good amount to do so.”
“What’s special about the VIP room here?” I ask, gazing in.
“Higher limits, exclusivity, plus we serve free drinks.”
“These aren’t the highest limits in the casino, are they?”
“Oh no that’s the Paisa Room. To gain access to it you have to wire the casino a minimum of $50,000 and bet it all in total. So if you wanted to bet $1,000 at a time, you have to do so fifty times in a row.”
“$50,000 to gain access?”
“50k,” he answers.
“That’s a lot of cash.”
“Somebody wins, and somebody loses.”
Speaking of which Las Vegas Sands stock price (LVS) is up again today.
Sands Marina Bay pool on the roof

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Singapore Zoo and Kim Kardashian Like Baboons + Night Safari Animals (Singapore Island)

One of the main attractions in Singapore is the zoo and the neighboring Night Safari.
Despite arriving and suffering a bit of sticker shock, as admission for the zoo and a companion ticket for the Night Safari was $42 Sing Dollars, there was still no way I wasn't going in, mainly because it had taken me over an hour just to get there.
And I have to say, I was very glad I didn't "cheap out."
free monkey at the entrance
This friendly monkey above greeted me near the entrance.
white tiger spotted!
white Bengal Tigers exploring
Tigers are my favorite animals. They are so beautiful, so majestic.
Of course they are in danger from disappearing from the wild (what's left of it) altogether, partly due to their beautiful fur coat prized by many of the world's idiots, and mainly cause the Chinese believe that eating tiger penis will give them sexual prowess, and pay big money for this organ.
I guess the Chinese government doesn't allow the sale of Viagra in the country, or are waiting until their crack cyber espionage division steals the molecular structure of the compound from Pfizer, so the Chinese government can reproduce it and profit off it. Til then, wild tigers are fair game for them.
Yeah yeah, I'm sure many of you out there are saying I'm being unfair and inaccurate, you're absolutely right; I have no doubt that the Chinese have already stolen the formula from Pfizer's computers.
pygmy hippo
They have a clear glass window, where you can see into the hippo's tank and see him dancing like a ballerina below the surface, almost skipping across the bottom.

Also, you can see in the below video baboons, apparently seeking the fame and fortune the Kim Kardashian way, created their very own sex tape.

--Fame seeking baboons agree to do live sex show--

cool photo of a lizard- a gecko?


--A tour of beautiful animals, from cute otters to majestic tigers--
wart hog

Below you will see a Komodo Dragon, one of the first successful dragon born in captivity! The zoo is proud to have created another poisonous lizard.
young komodo dragon

king cobra

python with a mouse in his mouth

sleeping leapord

-- Beautiful white tigers!--



zerbra muching
The rhinos, like any other large wild animals is critically endangered; poached for their horns, which are thought to cure cancer in, drum roll- China. The Asian rhinos are nearly wiped out, existing only on the island of Borneo and a few on the islands of Indonesia. The last rhino in Vietnam being shot and killed last year.
The others will be gone soon, don't worry.
A Note to Chinese 
Hey Chinese idiots, rhino horn is made of the same substance and proteins as human finger nails!! You morons! Stop paying your big $$ for the slaughter of wild creatures. God, let one of you read this. I understand YOUR fingernails prevent heart attacks, let me get my gun.
rhino coming at you
When several tons of this animal comes charging at you, you'd better be able to dodge!jack be nimble, Jack be quick ...
tropical fauna
The Night Safari
The night safari park opens after the zoo closes. Trams that take you through a very very dimly habitat where animals roam semi-freely (though not the tigers.)
Even knowing that the animal is there, and with the guide giving you it's approximate location, they are often difficult to spot. 
No flash photos are allowed, so obviously I don't have any pictures of this to show you, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. 
If you are headed over to Singapore, the zoo is a must see! Enjoy. And if any of your friends believe rhino horn or tiger penis will cure their health problems, tell them to wait for me. As promised, I'll bring my gun.