Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

2 Thumbs Up, 1 Thumb Down

This is a rather belated entry on Salt Lake City, as almost a week has passed since we left Salt Lake for Denver. I've been racking my brains on what to write about it.

Despite zipping in and out of Salt Lake City numerous times while shuttling between scenic spots in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, we didn't actually spend much time in the city itself, much less its namesake - the Great Salt Lake.

So except for three brief experiences with this place - and not all of them good ones - I don't have much to blog about it. We will probably remember Salt Lake City for:

(1) Visiting Historic Temple Square (Experience Rating: Thumbs Up)

Well, it was slightly memorable for me at least. I had been lugging around a novel, "The 19th Wife", all the way from Singapore and finally got down to reading it while in Utah. The book is about the history of the Mormon faith, with dual plots - one set in the 1800s and the other in present-day Utah. I've never been a fan of history textbooks, but it was pretty interesting visiting all the places mentioned in the novel. Plus, a couple of friendly church members came up to us and pointed out the sights we shouldn't miss while at Temple Square and very simply shared with us how much they were enjoying springtime in the city too.

The Salt Lake Temple

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building

(2) A Chat With The Natives (Experience Rating: Thumbs Down)

So, we're having dinner on a budget at Burger King one evening and a couple of native Americans walk into the outlet. This guy with long straggly hair and a rather weather-beaten complexion says hello, which we return with a nod, smile and "hello", and he asks if he can join us at our booth. We say okay. After all, traveling is all about meeting new people and learning about their lives and culture.

Well, this guy insists on opening the conversation about how the land used to belong to the natives and how white men came along and stole it from them. We act sympathetic. Okay, it must be pretty tough to have your motherland taken from you but dude, it happened a really long ago. Before Salt Lake City looked like this. Before burgers were introduced. Before the BK outlet that you're sitting in existed.

Then he starts messing around with our half-eaten fries on the tray. Hello, we were going to eat those! He plonks Dan's burger wrapper at one end of the tray and christians it America, and plonks mine on the other end, calling it China. And the no-longer edible fries are meant to represent the countries in between. And then, somehow, North Korea comes into the picture and he asks, "Now, when Korea fires that missile into America, WHERE WILL YOU RUN?"

Shit. How do you answer a question like that? Gee, I don't know. Retreat to our little HDB flat - you know, that borrowed 110 square metres of airspace hovering in Singapore skies - and hope that our block doesn't sit on the warpath of a searing hot missile cheerfully touring Southeast Asia while blazing en route to America? Gee, we're only touring this country, dude. You stay here. You go figure out where to run. We stare blankly and say, "Er, I don't think you can run away from a missile." Seriously, I don't believe there's place on earth where we're safe from any disaster, whether natural or man-made. Much less our very peaceful, very diplomatic but very tiny Singapore.

Then came the next question: "Do you worship the sun?" Well, we do sun salutations in yoga class, but I think that hardly qualifies as serious sun worship. We explain that we acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the sun to living things on earth, but that it's not in our culture to worship it. But this guy insists that we, as Chinese (he doesn't know of such a place as Singapore, and that it's not part of China), are the same as the native Americans cos we all worship the sun. Huh?

Next question: "Do you know kung-fu?" Dan is quite a fan of martial arts, having learnt a few self-defence moves himself before, but he says, no, we don't know kung-fu. The last thing we want is to be invited to pit our Chinese fighting skills against his native American ones. Mr Navajo/Cherokee/Arapahoe/Whatever actually tries to explain what kung-fu is - complete with circling hand movements. We intentionally look very blank and confused - and he says, "You don't know what I'm talking about, do you?" We realise that (a) the conversation is not going to get any less strange, (b) this guy is not going leave anytime soon and (c) our dinner is confirmed no longer edible, with all his spittle flying into it, and excuse ourselves politely.

Like I said, we're all for learning about new cultures and meeting new people, but if they insist on having an incoherent conversation while in a drunken (most probably, from the look of his bloodshot eyes) state and playing with our food, then it's not going to work out.

(3) Enjoying the Spring Blossoms (Experience Rating: Thumbs Up)

We had headed for Temple Square, just expecting to see some historic buildings in a plain old town square. Little did we expect the downtown to be painted in an amazing splash of colour and covered in thousands and thousands of spring flowers. Tulips in all shades, daffodils, daisies, poppies, pansies, and all the others I couldn't identify without my encyclopedia of botany - Dad. And it was all free for viewing, for locals and visitors, for the numerous wedding couples and their colourful bridal parties, for the equally numerous brides-to-be posing for photographs, for everyone.

So just enjoy the pictures of the blooms. Feel free to ooh and ahh like we did. And take the time to acknowledge and appreciate the important role that the sun has to play in creating this brilliant spectacle.

But if you don't worship the sun, that's fine with us.


Yeepster said...

Mama loves the flower pics. She says to take more flower pics please, and also to eat more. If you can take pics of the starry night skies - short/ long exposures...

Yi Lin said...

Orh, thanks for showing your parents our pix! Tell them please don't worry about our meals... last thing to worry about when the supermarkets (and cheap food galore) are bigger than our entire cluster of HDB neighbourhood shops in Bishan. You can find a Target, Wal-Mart, Albertsons and Safeway within minutes of one another - I don't know how all of them survive on the same customer pool.

Yes, shall attempt night shots... when the nights are warmer.

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