Hillbillies on a Plane

“The wrong foot” can sometimes be both feet.-

I missed the deadline for a travel writing contest by one hour. The last minute mathematics did not look good:

Time difference +date difference + jet lag=          all messed up.

So here is the first post from Asia, which is thankfully unrelated to any sort of calculation.

To the rest of the passengers we must have looked like a couple of two-tooth hillbillies; grins like a pig with moonshine. Singapore Airlines successfully dismayed us with its quality. A quality I feel is rarely seen concerning product and service. Either that or we are just easily impressed, which is probably also true.

The 10 hour flight from Australia to Singapore turned out to be something of a pleasure. I took extra pride in our ability to organize it independently. However, I found myself getting nervous as the little plane on the map creeped closer to its destination. Although I probably wouldn’t admit it, Singapore’s reputation as “the most regulated society in the world”, was something that intrigued and frightened me. This government had fines for everything, a secret police, and a death penalty for drugs. If nothing else, the ban on chewing gum assaults my American sense of justice. How dare they. This feeling was revisited again when I found 10-15 dollars was not an uncommon price for a manual toothbrush. In my mind, this country was shaping up to be a real dental hygiene nightmare.

I find it hard to travel to any country– knowing of its social ills, historical mistakes and seemingly strange government policies– without pre-dooming my perspective and experiences to my own preconceived notions. Increasingly, it is becoming my experience that travelers, and anyone else for that matter, will find “exactly what they are looking for”.  As people, it seems it is easier to fit entire countries, their good and bad, into our narrative (to borrow from a friend) rather than change ourselves to fit the narrative of the land. Most of the time it isn’t conscious, but due to sensory overload. Naturally, it isn’t possible to absorb every aspect, so we must choose our filters wisely. For this trip, my goal was to fit myself into the narrative the best I could, and forsake my pre-dispositions (as much as possible anyway).

It took me 10 minutes to fail my first goal.

The packed trains doors opened with a blast of frigid air-conditioning. Instinctively, we follow one another in a herd down the corridor maze; a maze that did nothing but continue to grow in scale. Larger and larger, until it reached an unimaginable size and I found myself an ant in a granite box. The wall is lined with creepy fake trees and two giant human figures; two stories of chiseled man and woman, Adam and Eve, surrounded by a flock of golden birds. Armed guards stand patiently at the only exit.

This is Orwellian. Welcome to utopia. This government is going to kill me.

So much for my new open minded nature.

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