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26 Apr 2001

swinging in singapore

If you had only one day to spend in Singapore, what would you do? Well, here are a few suggestions.

9.27 am: Saturday morning at Changi Airport and it feels like dreary morning hell - the flight from New York was a pain and there's only so many bad suits on shapeless bodies you can take in one day. There's still 24 hrs before you get back on the connecting flight to Sydney - in the meantime you make your way to the airport's transit lounge trying to plan out your day of lazing at the airport hotel. After all, what can you do in 24 hours in Singapore?

Well, plenty! It's just a matter of going out there and finding it. Especially if you want to have memories of Singapore that go beyond cruising the bellboys, duty-free shopping and guzzling Singapore Slings in the airport hotel lounge.

10.23 am: Take a cab out, resist the aging taxi driver's impromptu tourist spiel about the zoo(the kind with real animals) and make your way to the pool. With the bright morning sun right above your head, it's the perfect time to work on a quick tan and get a chance to meet the locals. While the public pools might not win any awards for their so-so facilities, they have been winning the boys over as convenient centers for cruising and instant gratification. With one public swimming pool at every major constituency, it's a great place to meet like-minded Singaporeans without paying through your nose for it. And who knows? You may even find a personal tourist guide to help you with the rest of your day.

Popular public swimming pools worth checking out are Buona Vista Swimming Pool, Delta Swimming Pool, Tanjong Katong Swimming Pool and River Valley Swimming Pool - River Valley especially since foreigners are welcomed by the sarong party boys (potato queens) hanging out at the poolside. However coming from the airport, Tanjong Katong Swimming Pool is your nearest option and your smartest since it is a stone's throw away from the famous Fort Road.

Really just a secluded stretch of East Coast Beach for the uninitiated, Fort Road is the cruiser's heaven where hungry boys look for a romp in the sand. With natural camouflage from the thick vegetation around the beach, brave souls have been walking this oft-beaten track for a long time. While the cover of night is preferred for its obvious advantages (you can afford to be less discriminating), day time cruising has been recommended not only for its kinky appeal but also because you're less likely to twist an ankle plodding through the bushes.

1.46 pm: After all that heat and sweat, time to hit the air-conditioned shopping centers for refuge. With only an afternoon to buy gifts and souvenirs, there's really no time for idle mall trekking. Go right down to Raffles Hall Shopping Center for a total shopping experience complete with simultaneous cruising! Boys hang around the railings hoping to make "friends" at every level. Just look up (or across or below, etc) as you window browse the numerous music and clothing stores. If in doubt simply wander into anchor gay shop Blood Brothers and you will usually find a brother - or sister - in there somewhere.

Nearby Plaza Singapura has a proud history of cruising built over the years. Sadly, the recent renovation cleaned up the action considerably. A better bet would be Ngee Ann City with its enormous shopping area and sheer human traffic volume. You might not find your guy but at least you can usually find the perfect present here. Toilets at level 2 and 3 have generated enough stories to warrant a look but merely browsing at gay friendly stores like Ordning & Reda, Kinokuniya Bookstore (gender section) and Louis Vuitton should get you some nice eyecandy. And yes there's a Blood Brothers store here too - exclusively menswear at it.


6.17 pm: Feet sore but determined not to let the rest of your body slack? There are a few gyms with the essential workout facilities, sauna and some private cabins for post-steamroom negotiations in town. Stroke at Ann Siang Road is one of the these. Opened daily from noon till 7am, its close proximity to prime cruising area Ann Siang Hill is a definite plus.

More upmarket joints include Rairua near Tanjong Pagar MRT and Blue Heaven near Bugis. Newest kid on the block is One Seven at Circular Road. Beyond its state-of-the-art gym, it boasts of an open-air hydro-pool where guests can soak their aching bodies and a steamroom the size of a bank vault! One Seven is also the first to offer an innovative weekend pass, and is open round the clock from Friday to Monday morning.

9.26 pm: Now that the night has settled, its time to bring out your dancing shoes! With some time before the pubs get really crowded, its worth the walk to check out all the joints since they are but walking distance from one another. Housing two karaoke bars and two clubs/pubs on the same road(another within walking distance), the Tanjong Pagar area is a pub hopper's dream. The grand Dame, Taboo, is still the pub to go to for the better looking boys and gym toned bodies. Generally packed in the weekends, it's a place for the beautiful to hang out and meet possibly all other the good-looking cousins in the family.

Nearby Why Not?, while not as glam as Taboo, has the advantage of having a decent sized dance floor to shake your bon bons. The crowd tends to be the younger without the flashy ensembles of the Taboo boys. On the plus side, they seem to have more fun doing something more than just merely looking bored and disinterested - we're sure you'll be drooling at the gorgeous topless bodies gyrating on the floor.

Niche at Pagoda Street has an even younger crowd of Madonna aspiring divas waiting to be discovered. Within the two stories structure is a small size dance floor and a lounge area for those who prefer to just chill out and be voyeurs.

10.42 pm: Oh shucks! Your favourite Cher tune is not playing yet and the crowd is only just filing in. No worries, take in some fresh air as you make your way to the famous (or infamous) Ann Siang Hill where many make their pilgrimages after the sun goes down. An intricate network of small alleys and wide streets, the hill is interesting even just for a peek into the seedier side of cruising in the city. While the thought of standing in the shadows for someone to drive by ala Pretty Woman might not be your kind of fantasy, treat it as a warm up exercise getting to know the boys before seeing them all over at the clubs you just came out from.

3.26 am: The last strains of music have died down and everyone starts streaming out. To round of the whole eventful day, bring that boy you just exchanged tonsil examinations with at Taboo to Musa Prata Store right behind where many people have a chow down after the pub closes. Sitting among all those boys who've been swishing and swaying in their Pradas and Guccis all night, drinking hot teh tarik (blended tea and milk) and munching on roti pratas (fried dough cakes), you'll enjoy a unique chance to get to know the average Singaporean gay man - without the camouflage provided by dim club lighting and diva pop songs.

When you get home, perhaps your best memories of Singapore won't be the pools, saunas or shopping centres. As the gay clubs start to look the same and all you hear is Madonna being played again and again, perhaps you'll remember that little prata shop in the wee hours of the morning. Either that or the frantic scramble to get whatsisname out of bed so you can make your 9am flight.

Singapore

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