Fun fact: my favorite travel buddy and I were supposed to be leaving for a long weekend in Singapore.
My travel agent/boyfriend had found a great deal on tickets to Singapore a couple of months ago. He, of course, jumped on it. We were supposed to leave Thursday night and fly back on Tuesday. Just a short little weekend jaunt halfway around the world.
But eventually we came to the decision that it wasn’t a good time or a great idea (especially since I’m still paying for my greatly reduced, but still substantial portion of the Australian-Thailand extravaganza), so we swallowed the cancellation fee and cancelled the tickets.
It turns out that it was a very good decision, for several reasons. For one thing, we’re ramping up the whole house-hunting thing. And by ramping up, I mean going from zero to intense. XFE does not fool around when he makes a decision. His absolute decisiveness is one of the things I really love about him and stands in stark contrast to my decision paralysis. (Paper or plastic? Can I have both? Red or white wine? What about a rose? Chicken or steak? Ummmm, which do you recommend? — Except for ranch dressing. Then the answer is always, always yes.)
Good thing we’re not house hunting in Singapore. From Bloomberg Businessweek:
Singapore should curb the increasing trend of so-called shoebox apartments because they are “almost inhuman,” CapitaLand Ltd. (CAPL) Chief Executive Officer Liew Mun Leong said.
Shoebox apartments? I love shoes, but I would not want to live in something referred to as a shoebox.
The government last week said it’s concerned that shoebox apartments are mushrooming in the city-state as private home sales surged to a three-year high with record purchases of units that are smaller than 50 square meters (538 square feet).
538 square feet??? That sounds like the efficiency I lived in when I was in college. I wouldn’t call it luxurious, but it’s hardly inhumane.
The island-state’s population growth, scarce land and surging property values have prompted developers to shrink apartment space. Home prices surged to a record at the end of 2011 in a city that’s about half the size of Los Angeles.
So, uh, how much are we talking here?
Developers sold 1,764 shoebox units in the first quarter, or 27 percent of all home sales, the most since the Urban Redevelopment Authority began collating the data in 2007. Apartments that cost less than S$750,000 ($587,000) made up 42 percent of new home sales in the first quarter, up from 25 percent in the previous three months, the data showed.
What the What?? $587,000 American?? Dang! That price is a crime against humanity. We need to get Amnesty International in on this.
The trend of shoebox units may not be unique to the city- state, said Pratik Burman Ray, an analyst at HSBC Holdings Plc in Singapore. Philippine developers have built homes smaller than 20 square meters, while those in Thailand and Indonesia are less than 35 square meters, he said. In Hong Kong, apartments smaller than 500 square feet house two or three people, he said.
Makes house-hunting in Alexandria seem like a freaking bargain.
The cancelled trip to Singapore made me a bit nostalgic about our recent vacations. Especially when I saw this item in the Wall Street Journal:
Australia is living up to its nickname of “the lucky country,” with a new survey marking it as the happiest industrialized nation in the world based on criteria such as jobs, income and health.
Yep, I would definitely agree with that. Just getting to go to Australia made me luckier than catching a drunk leprechaun holding a four leaf clover sitting on a pot of gold.
Having sidestepped the economic malaise gripping much of Europe and with near-full employment owing to a once-in-a-century resources boom, Australia has come out on top ahead of Norway and the U.S. in the annual Better Life Index compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Speaking of lucky, Lady Gaga is in Thailand as part of her world tour and she’s staying at perhaps the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at, the St. Regis Bangkok. According to fans on Twitter, she’s staying in the Royal Suite. I seriously can’t imagine it being much nicer than the Caroline Astor suite we stayed in when we were there. But whatever, if she feels like slumming it, that’s her deal.
Gaga will be in Singapore June 3, so we would have just missed her. And you know how I love to hang out with my pop singers.
Perhaps the Royal Suite at the St. Regis is decorated with golden fetuses. From Huffington Post:
British citizen Chow Hok Kuen, 28, was arrested in Thailand on Friday after police found six fetal corpses in his luggage, according to the Independent. The bodies, which belonged to fetuses between two and seven months old, had been roasted, and some were covered in gold leaf.
OK, what?? You roast cauliflower. You roast potatoes. Some places even roast chestnuts. You roast a lot of things, but you DO NOT roast fetuses. I don’t care how lucky that might be.
Thai police made the discovery after receiving a tip that a black magic services website was offering fetuses for sale, according to the New York Daily News. Roasting fetuses and covering them in gold is part of a black magic ritual called Kuman thong, which means “golden child” in Thai. The preserved bodies are thought to bring good fortune to the owner, according to the International Business Times.
Authorities believe that Chow was planning to smuggle the fetuses to his native Taiwan, where one corpse could sell for up to $200,000 Thai baht, or $6,376, WCVB reports.
Chow faces up to a year in prison on charges of hiding and covering dead bodies, according to CNN.
Investigators say it’s unclear where the fetuses came from, though forensic tests are currently being conducted on the bodies.
I mean, honestly. That’s some really, really weird crap, pardon my Italian.
Which brings me to my last travel update. This came in the mail today:
Here’s the story: We went to Milan as part of a 14-day trip to Northern Italy and Switzerland in March 2011. Milan was our first stop and was also where we got a horrible case of food poisoning from some salami. We were sick (seriously, seriously, disgustingly sick) for 10 days. That’s no exaggeration. 10. Days. Wave after wave of disgusting symptom and discomfort for 10. Whole. Days.
So not only was Milan terribly expensive. Not only did Milan try to poison and kill us. Now Milan wants us to pay a traffic ticket that we think comes out to around $133 dollars.
Look for us on the Interpol Most Wanted list because we are not paying that nonsense.
Milan, I am currently giving you the Italian backhanded brush under the chin.