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Will China's PLAN survive contact with the enemy?

The best laid PLANs of mice and men often go awry.

Welcome back to another effortpost by me generally on the developing arms race in East Asia, this time covering the People's Liberation Army Navy, hereafter referred to as the "PLAN", and its massive growth... and... mostly, well, its massive growth. What that means is mostly covered in other posts about how other countries are responding to it. The why is a bit difficult because, well, China is not well known for open debate, or open anything, really, which will turn up repeatedly.

  1. What you [might] need to know about South Korea's ludicrous arms buildup
  2. We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches.... uh, what do we do after that again?: The Perilous Defensive Position of Taiwan
  3. "You've hit another cargo ship? The Problems with the US Navy: Not all of them begin with "Seven" and end with "th Fleet"."
  4. Will China's PLAN survive contact with the enemy?
  5. Biden's New START and modern nuclear war
  6. First And Last Stand Of The Tin Can Navies [ASEAN + Australia and the smaller adversaries China may contend with]
  7. Boned: Problems in the US Air [and space!] Force
  8. --Unnamed-- effortpost on Japanese military matters, mostly about how weird the JSDF status is
  9. --Unnamed--effortpost on Indian military matters, and why they can't focus on China or buy anything that works
  10. --Unnamed--effortpost on the rest of the PLA, mostly the air force though
  11. --Unnamed--effortpost on the rest of the US Armed Forces, mostly talking about how the marines are changing and the Army's new love affair with INF-busting weapons
  12. Conclusion?

Glossary:
PLA = People's Liberation Army = the armed forces of the People's Republic of China, or China
PLAN = People's Liberation Army Navy = the naval forces of the PLA
PLANAF = People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force = the air force of the navy of the PLA
Ashm = Anti-ship missile, cruise missile unless specifically described as otherwise--there's only one anti-ship ballistic missile in existence and its efficacy and whether or not it functions is questionable
CIWS = close-in weapons system, like the Phalanx gun or Goalkeeper
VLS = vertical launch system for missiles
AEGIS = Aegis Combat System if described specifically in that context, a US naval warfare system, but we'll usually be talking about "Chinese AEGIS", which is a nomiker used by the Chinese media in particular comparing the Type 346 radar to the AN-SPY family, with which it shares numerous technical characteristics--but how comparable the "Chinese AEGIS" system is to what the US uses is a complete unknown.
SAM = Surface-to-air missile, in this case usually a S-300 derivative
First Island Chain = The islands, stretching from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan, which keep China inside its littoral seas much as the GIUK [Greenland-Iceland-UK] gap has kept various continental powers out of the Atlantic.


Some PLAN equipment you might see described--the nomenclature is confusing and a relic of the cultural revolution, and as a result China now has more Types than the British.
Type 003 = China's new conventionally powered supercarriers, currently under construction
Type 002 = China's first truly "operational" carrier
Type 001 = China's first carrier, built on a Soviet hull purchased from Ukraine ostensibly to make a floating casino
Type 055 = Guided-missile cruiser, though generally called a destroyer it's probably more descriptively labeled a cruiser
Type 052D = Guided-missile destroyer using "Chinese AEGIS"
Type 052/051B/052B/052C = the gradual progression of evolving Chinese naval tech, largely built as practice/demo ships like the Type 001. Some of the earlier ones are steam-powered but by the Type 052C you have something almost as advanced as the Type 052D, albeit with turbine problems
Type 054A = the standard modern frigate of the PLAN
Type 053[anything] = old PLAN frigates
Type 096 = China's newest SSBN class, under construction
Type 094 = China's first functional SSBN class, very noisy
Type 092 = China's first "SSBN", believed to have never left port with an actual nuke on board
Type 095 = China's newest SSN class, under construction
Type 093 = China's current SSN class, noisy
Type 091 = China's first SSN class, dumb dumb dumb and is at a 1950s tech level
Type 039[A] = China's new SSK class
Kilo = China's older SSK class, imported from Russia
Sovremenny = China's first capable anti-air destroyers, imported from Russia


1. The Last Time A Rising Navy Challenged A Dominant Foe

The last time we've seen something like this was in the late 19th century. After the First World War shipbuilding was restricted by the landmark Washington Naval Treaty, one of the first great arms control treaties, and during the Cold War the Soviet Union never really had any hopes of surpassing American naval power. China, however, seems intent on replacing the US as the world's dominant naval power, or at least building a force that can stop the US Navy, even combined with the forces of Japan and other regional allies.

The nations in question, of course, in the last naval arms race, were the United Kingdom and a newly-unified Germany. Germany never reached the level of the UK, but seriously threatened it. Previously the UK had maintained a policy of having more ships than the next two largest fleets combined, but this was no longer possible, and the UK legitimately was fearful for its naval supremacy. It didn't last too long in the end--under a decade--and a resumption was foiled by first a world war and then the Washington Naval Treaty. The impact of the arms race, though, was massive. It set Germany and the UK at odds with each other, it resulted in a general buildup of warships pretty much everywhere [South America was, believe it or not, one of the biggest offenders there], established Germany for a time as the world's second naval power, having eclipsed both France and Russia and turning a small coastal defense navy into something that was able to defeat the Royal Navy itself, though never comprehensively enough to change the course of the first world war.

China dwells in a much different situation than Germany did at the turn of the last century, so we can only extend the analogy so far--substituting in Japan for the UK, India for Russia, and so on is possible but not, in my view, educational. However, we can see many of the same elements playing in here. China seems intent on replacing the US as a dominant power, or at least as regional hegemon--the ancient tributary system seems to lie fairly heavily on Chinese minds--and in order to do that, it must be able to have some degree of power projection and the capability to deny the US Navy access to areas within the first island chain. It remains to be seen, however, how successful that quest will be. Much as with the dreadnought battleships, I wouldn't be surprised if we never actually do find out if most of the shiny naval toys people have built actually work. But their mere existence shows the mutual hostility developing in the region and demonstrates the size of the Chinese threat.

Another lesson learned here is that China, like Germany, may not develop a naval force capable of defeating the US comprehensively, but only partially, and that one of the powers--in this case, China--might be pressured to strike first before the US Navy can close the gap. That ~2030 gap I talked about in my last post is, I think, an especially vulnerable point, because China may look at a degraded, but rejuvenating US Navy, then at their own capable forces, and decide to strike then in Taiwan and the South China Sea, only to back down when the US Navy again eclipses them. Whether or not that will happen, we will see--but I find it a very dangerous and perhaps likely possibility.

2. What the PLAN looked like 20 years ago

The PLAN has undergone an absolutely stunning evolution in the past two decades. In the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis the US could intimidate China with a pair of aircraft carrier strike groups and China could do pretty much nothing about it. Now the US is afraid of sending anything more than a destroyer through the strait.

Twenty years ago, the PLAN was a bit of a joke. Even Taiwan figured it could hold the seas against the PLAN. It consisted of a few tens of outdated coastal-defense frigates, some Soviet-era diesel-electric subs, and a large number of unsophisticated missile craft. The pride of the Chinese fleet were a handful of destroyers assembled using cobbled-together Western technology--copied French missiles, American gas turbines, the lot. According to American accounts at the time, the instructions for the equipment hadn't even been translated. The most advanced ship in the fleet used steampower. There were nuclear submarines, but of 1950s quality. Of particular note was the fact that the Chinese fleet had no area air defense capabilities--their premier surface-to-air-missile was an unlicensed knockoff of the French Crotale, and couldn't shoot anything outside of visual range, at high altitudes, or really doing anything more sophisticated than trying to kill their ships with low-altitude dumb bombing runs.

In the past twenty years, however, the PLAN has, much like the German Navy towards the end of the 19th century, gone from an afterthought to the world's second most powerful force. It began, as modern China's military capabilities almost all began, with the looting of the former Soviet Union for naval technology. While Soviet naval tech was generally lacking, it was much better than anything else China could get its hands on after the arms embargo placed on it in the 1990s by the US and Europe in response to Tienanmen and the end of the Cold War. China bought Soviet diesel submarines, Soviet air-defense destroyers, and Soviet aircraft carriers, which it promptly left lying around [and turned one of them into a theme park]. This was combined with copies of various pieces of Western, mostly European, technology for everything from sonars to surface-to-air missiles. China then began developing its first modern indigenous surface combatants, the Type 052C, but there were still problems. The engines were Ukrainian and had reliability trouble, the gun jammed, there was no VLS.

It is really in the last ten years that things have begun to move extremely quickly, and even only in the latter portion of the decade. In 2012 the Type 001 Liaoning entered service, and although it remains more of a training ship than an operational vessel, and is held back by a poor carrier aircraft, the mere fact that China "built" a carrier was a surprise to many. In 2014 the first Type 052D destroyer came online. It had learned the lessons from the Type 052C, and in just the last six years at least ten have entered service, with a class size of about 23 expected. This rapid expansion is what has frightened competing navies the most--in a little over a decade, the PLAN is constructing more destroyers than the British, French, and Australian navies have in service combined. It is also building the Type 055, which has generally been called a "destroyer" despite being more aptly described as a cruiser in line with the Ticonderoga-class. China has also built 30 modern frigates in the past decade, which has also swelled its numbers, along with numerous smaller corvettes, submarines, and so on.

This is why the PLAN has become such an object of concern. While it cannot challenge the US Navy yet, at least outside its littoral zones, the decline of the USN and rapid expansion of the PLAN means that it is a serious threat. And the speed at which it has developed has made many fearful. As recently as 2010, the idea of China operating an aircraft carrier or modern destroyers seemed distant, possibly preposterous. Now China speaks openly of having a six-carrier fleet in the 2030s, although, as with many of China's plans to operate full US-replicated tech and doctrine, these may have somewhat caved to realism. China is mighty, but it has already done the easy part--the last part is much harder, in economics and in military matters. Building the software, the institutional knowledge, the hardware to compete with the US Navy will prove difficult.

3. What the PLAN looks like now--submarines

Submarines are one of the PLAN's weak spots, particularly nuclear submarines. China is, however, making some fairly rapid advances in this area.

Their nuclear submarine program has been considered a bit of a joke for some time. In the late 1950s when all the cool kids great powers were getting nuclear submarines, China decided [or at least Mao did] that China needed nuclear submarines too. About 16 years later, the product of this effort finally emerged as the Type 091 submarine. Based on 1950s technology, with poor radiation shielding and basically nothing done in the name of noise reduction, and not even a teardrop hull, the Type 091 was probably more of a threat to the sailors who were on it than anyone else, except maybe the two Tench-class submarines that Taiwan operates, which use 1940s technology and are the world's longest-serving submarines, though they're mostly used for training nowadays. Even then, my money would be on the Tench despite the upgrades the PLAN has made to the Type 091. There's only so much you can do to put lipstick on a pig.

China also produced an SSBN, the Type 092, which was probably the only submarine more useless than the Type 091. About the only useful thing it did for the PLAN was that it served as a test platform for SLBM launches. Reports suggest that the Type 092 is the noisiest SSBN ever made, and is thought to have only ever undertaken a single patrol. It stayed at port for so long that it was thought to have sunk in an accident. And the experience turned the PLAN off from building SSBNs for over twenty years, until the Type 094 came online in 2007.

More recent submarines are growing in capability, though. The Type 094 is not the noisiest SSBN ever made, and may not even be the noisiest in current service--that honor going to the Delta III operated by the Russian Navy, which uses 1970s technology, and, which, according to the US Office of Naval Intelligence, is about as noisy as the Type 094. The Type 093 is also moderately capable--it actually functions and can fire anti-ship missiles. However, the Type 093 is still considered only comparable to the Soviet Victor III class, again using 1970s technology. Future submarines have not yet been seen, but expectations are that China will make another step forward to late 1980s or early 1990s tech levels, producing something on par with the Los Angeles or Akula for the first time.

China also operates a fairly capable fleet of coastal diesel-electric submarines. While some are quite old--the Type 035--most are pretty average for the global submarine force, a mix of Kilos and domestic AIP designs. The large number of boats in operation and their anti-ship missile capability means that these should be considered a real threat, at least in the littoral waters near to China, but they aren't decisive by any means, especially since China is facing off against such threats as Japan's Soryu class, probably the most advanced diesel-electric sub in existence.

In conclusion, the PLAN is still pretty weak on the submarine front--weaker here than on anything but its carrier force, but its capabilities are advancing rapidly and should not be underestimated.

4. What the PLAN looks like now--surface combatants

The surface fleet is definitely the most impressive and capable portion of the PLAN, no questions about it. China once had a fleet consisting mostly of coastal frigates and missile boats. As recently as 2000, its fleet had no real area-air-defense destroyers, and no SAMs that could operate outside visual range. Now, though, the PLAN operates tens of advanced guided-missile destroyers, advanced frigates, and still retains a large number of small, stealthy missile boats.

The major focus of Chinese warships appears to be on anti-air, with anti-surface being a somewhat secondary concern for all but the smallest vessels. This makes sense when you realize that the primary focus is, at least for the moment, on using land-based aircraft to strike against hostile fleet formations using long-range anti-ship missiles, in a very Soviet sort of way--"Backfire raids" using long-range land-based aircraft with anti-ship missiles were one of the US Navy's major concerns during the Cold War, and the very reason for the F-14's existence along with the AIM-54 Phoenix it carried. However, China has been developing anti-surface capabilities as well using ashms and land-attack cruise missiles [generally the same thing, actually]. Since China has finally developed a VLS system that allows it to use the same launcher for multiple missiles, its most recent ships have become more versatile in that role.

How effective these ships are at that task is, however, a relatively open question. Their radars at least seem to quite sophisticated, using flat-panel AESA, and have been dubbed "Chinese AEGIS" by the highly reliable Chinese domestic media. The basic platform their surface-to-air missiles are based on also seems to be fairly capable--the HQ-9 is an S-300 derivative, a respectable SAM system though, again, how capable it is against opponents in an active electronic warfare environment is questionable, and it has basically no capabilities against stealth aircraft like the F-35 as far as anyone knows. The efficacy of their CIWS, again, is open to question. Really this is true of everything about the modern PLAN, and PLA in general. The PLA is secretive, has not exported most of its hardware, and has developed largely independently of foreign militaries, though it is definitely influenced by them. Now that the PLAN has moved away from simply copying foreign hardware and patching it together, its capabilities are much harder to discern.

However, they should be taken as a very real threat, and not written off. My guess would be that their warships are about as capable as most of their non-American counterparts, save those equipped with AEGIS, but that's all my guess is---a guess.

5. What the PLAN looks like now--carriers

The PLAN currently has two carriers in service, and two more known to be under construction, and most suspect that it will build several more. However, at the moment, the PLAN's carrier force is largely a paper tiger, designed around training. The first carrier, the Type 001, basically was a "how do you build a carrier" kit bought from Russia, possibly by accident--the "fully functional" Minsk ended up as a theme park, believe it or not. The hull was purchased from Ukraine and then completed in China years later. It is also believed that the PLAN may have learned some things about aircraft carriers from the HMAS Melbourne, which was sold to a Chinese firm for scrapping--rumor has it the PLAN had no clue this had happened and then had a field day looking at all the stuff that hadn't been taken out. This was back in the old days when nobody could imagine that China would have an aircraft carrier. The Type 002, however, is built from scratch, but isn't particularly capable especially as it's a ski-jump carrier, leaving the Type 003 the first carrier which will prove actually useful.

The main thing holding China's carrier fleet back, though, is a lack of a suitable aircraft. Originally China was considering purchasing Su-33s from Russia, hardly a good carrier-based aircraft but functional, but after Russia discovered that China had been mucking about building a Su-27 derivative without asking the deal fell through [China tells a different story, saying that Russia demanded exorbitant amounts to reopen production which it was unwilling to pay for a nearly obsolete aircraft]. As a result China operates the J-15 as its naval fighter, with... less than stellar results. It's extremely heavy, and, if it takes off from the carrier, has minimal range if carrying anything at all--it can't take more than two short range air to air missiles into the sky to fight enemy aircraft. However, the J-15 isn't really intended for combat service--it's intended to teach China how to run carriers, and it seems to work well enough for that task, aside from the multiple fatal crashes. There is, however, thought to be a new carrier fighter in the pipeline--most say the J-31/FC-31, which has reduced RCS and a number of carrier-unique features, is being pitched as a carrier-based aircraft and will serve as China's carrier fighter in the future. China also lacks any fixed wing carrier-based airborne early warning, which could prove troublesome--a lack of AEW means that its view is limited by the horizon--and has no resupply aircraft like the C-2 Greyhound. As a result, for the moment at least, China lacks an effective carrier force, but it is likely to continue developing rapidly in the next decade and become a fairly substantial threat. Remember that as recently as 2010, a Chinese aircraft carrier seemed preposterous to many people, and now they have two.

6. Some attention to land-based aircraft

Land-based aircraft as a naval weapon are not generally used by the US, which has never had a reason to develop them as a doctrinal focus. Sure, you could potentially envision them as being used, and there even were situations where they were utilized, but it just wasn't generally a priority or how things were done. For China, though, taking influence from the Soviets, and lying on littoral seas with hostile powers in the First Island Chain, land-based aircraft and missiles are a key part of doctrine. Although this is often viewed as a new thing, called A2/AD [anti access/area denial], it's really the result of a long historical evolution of naval power, probably most refined by the Soviet Union. As a result, land-based naval aviation plays an important role, firing anti-ship missiles at standoff distances at enemy vessels, and shore-based launchers of anti-ship missiles are also an important weapon. The combination of these systems means that venturing within China's littoral seas is a dangerous proposition during war, and some waters, like those of the Taiwan Strait, are effectively considered closed at this point in the event of hostilities breaking out. For this reason air superiority is also important in this sort of naval warfare, as if either side gains air superiority it can pummel its opponents with air-launched anti-ship missiles. China's capabilities in this area are sophisticated and should not be underestimated, but they are unlikely to go through a rapid period of growth like the PLAN's fleet.

And a brief note dedicated entirely to the DF-21D "Carrier killer" that the PLA likes to show off. It's a pretty impressive capability, on paper, using a ballistic missile to hit a carrier. The CEP [circular error probable] means that it could even happen, presuming that an aircraft carrier was good enough to sit in one place, not moving, long enough to be detected by China. Aircraft carriers look big, but the seas are huge, and they're surprisingly hard to find. They also move quite fast, in excess of of 35mph/55kph, and thus by the time the ballistic missile has launched it might well be out of range given the fact that ballistic missiles are not particularly known for their maneuverability in terminal stages, at least not in the realm of miles. The DF-21D is not a particular threat to the modern aircraft carrier. It could potentially be one if it evolves into a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, but that's a whole additional can of worms, that I might address a different day.

7. The PLAN's plans for the future--what will it look like in 2030?

Unfortunately the PLAN is not exactly the most open of navies, as I've repeatedly mentioned. There are no public debates over acquisitions programs, no big fleet shape plans, relatively little detail.

However, a few things are fairly sure bets or publicly announced.

China has repeatedly announced plans to build a six-carrier force, including the Type 001 and Type 002, but also a pair of Type 003 [already under construction] conventionally powered supercarriers and a pair of Type 004 nuclear powered supercarriers. However, it seems that the Type 004 is currently on hold. Why, exactly, is unclear, but it seems to be technical difficulties, which are not particularly surprising given that China's experience with nuclear maritime propulsion seem to be rather limited and have had poor results in their submarine fleet. The costs were also expected to be too high--China does not have an unlimited quantity of money, despite what it may flaunt, and nuclear carriers are expensive to develop especially given that China has not built a nuclear-powered surface ship before.

A new carrier-based fighter is almost certainly in the cards because the J-15 is pretty much useless. The FC-31 seems by far the most likely candidate but it could be another aircraft we haven't seen yet. The addition of this aircraft will greatly improve the PLAN's capabilities.

China also has two Type 075 amphibious assault ships/LHDs under construction, and I would expect this class to be much more prolific. These ships are much more affordable than the full carriers, and focus on areas in which China is particularly concerned--amphibious assaults, say, on islands in the South China Sea or on Taiwan, and anti-submarine warfare, which is of particular importance given that submarines cannot be easily halted with land-based anti-ship missiles and air-launched cruise missiles provided for in their area denial doctrine--submarines are one of the few things that can slip through that net.

The surface combatant fleet is likely to continue growing, but I am not sure if it will swell much beyond the ~23 Type 052D ships planned and the 8 Type 055s. We're likely to see the retirement of the classes preceding the Type 052C destroyer and the Type 054 frigate, and they may be offloaded to Bangladesh, Myanmar, or Pakistan--there is substantial precedent here, and it seems that China is interested in expanding the naval capabilities of its partners around India.

The submarine fleet is likely to see rapid expansion if the PLAN is satisfied with the Type 095 and Type 096 classes, and we're likely to see more diesel-electric subs built as well. Submarines are generally quite good at fighting submarines and conducting area-denial missions, and the large and capable subsurface forces of Japan, Korea, and the United States means that this has to be an area the PLAN invests more in--and the fact that several Southeast Asian nations are also looking at acquiring submarines makes the issue more pressing.

8. Conclusion

China has in the past decade gone from a third-rate navy to perhaps the greatest threat the US Navy has faced since the Second World War. This has significant geopolitical implications, and has resulted in neighbors scrambling to overhaul their naval forces. The growth of the PLAN means that the US can no longer easily defend Taiwan or the South China Sea, or any of China's littoral waters. This, more than anything else, is what has everyone scrambling in the US talking about "great-power competition" because denying access to the US Navy and working on power projection, an inherently naval thing, is essentially a clear sign that China is looking to directly compete with the United States. Underestimate the PLAN at your own peril.

I hope to have more detail and citations in future posts, but unfortunately the PLAN is very secretive [yes, I've said that fifty times already] and this is a pretty big topic to discuss without going into details about all sorts of naval tidbits. Thanks for reading the fourth post in what I hope will be a fairly substantial series, probably around ~12 posts.

9. Citations

James Holmes, "The Danger Zone In Naval Arms Races"
USNI, Report to Congress on Chinese Naval Modernization
Hans Kristensen, China's Noisy Nuclear Submarines
Eric Wertheim, China's Type 052D Destroyer is a potent adversary
Robert Farley, Let's Talk About The Chinese Navy's Type 055 Destroyer
Ryan Pickrell, Chinese fighter jet holding China back as it builds carrier fleet
Look, much more here is based on loose speculation, more unreliable sources, and stuff I've picked up over the years, because public info is limited. So take everything I say with a grain of salt, but understand that it's the best information I know of.
submitted by AmericanNewt8 to neoliberal [link] [comments]

SKRIBBL WORD LIST

Pac-Man
bow
Apple
chest
six pack
nail
tornado
Mickey Mouse
Youtube
lightning
traffic light
waterfall
McDonalds
Donald Trump
Patrick
stop sign
Superman
tooth
sunflower
keyboard
island
Pikachu
Harry Potter
Nintendo Switch
Facebook
eyebrow
Peppa Pig
SpongeBob
Creeper
octopus
church
Eiffel tower
tongue
snowflake
fish
Twitter
pan
Jesus Christ
butt cheeks
jail
Pepsi
hospital
pregnant
thunderstorm
smile
skull
flower
palm tree
Angry Birds
America
lips
cloud
compass
mustache
Captain America
pimple
Easter Bunny
chicken
Elmo
watch
prison
skeleton
arrow
volcano
Minion
school
tie
lighthouse
fountain
Cookie Monster
Iron Man
Santa
blood
river
bar
Mount Everest
chest hair
Gumball
north
water
cactus
treehouse
bridge
short
thumb
beach
mountain
Nike
flag
Paris
eyelash
Shrek
brain
iceberg
fingernail
playground
ice cream
Google
dead
knife
spoon
unibrow
Spiderman
black
graveyard
elbow
golden egg
yellow
Germany
Adidas
nose hair
Deadpool
Homer Simpson
Bart Simpson
rainbow
ruler
building
raindrop
storm
coffee shop
windmill
fidget spinner
yo-yo
ice
legs
tent
mouth
ocean
Fanta
homeless
tablet
muscle
Pinocchio
tear
nose
snow
nostrils
Olaf
belly button
Lion King
car wash
Egypt
Statue of Liberty
Hello Kitty
pinky
Winnie the Pooh
guitar
Hulk
Grinch
Nutella
cold
flagpole
Canada
rainforest
blue
rose
tree
hot
mailbox
Nemo
crab
knee
doghouse
Chrome
cotton candy
Barack Obama
hot chocolate
Michael Jackson
map
Samsung
shoulder
Microsoft
parking
forest
full moon
cherry blossom
apple seed
Donald Duck
leaf
bat
earwax
Italy
finger
seed
lilypad
brush
record
wrist
thunder
gummy
Kirby
fire hydrant
overweight
hot dog
house
fork
pink
Sonic
street
Nasa
arm
fast
tunnel
full
library
pet shop
Yoshi
Russia
drum kit
Android
Finn and Jake
price tag
Tooth Fairy
bus stop
rain
heart
face
tower
bank
cheeks
Batman
speaker
Thor
skinny
electric guitar
belly
cute
ice cream truck
bubble gum
top hat
Pink Panther
hand
bald
freckles
clover
armpit
Japan
thin
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spaghetti
Phineas and Ferb
broken heart
fingertip
funny
poisonous
Wonder Woman
Squidward
Mark Zuckerberg
twig
red
China
dream
Dora
daisy
France
Discord
toenail
positive
forehead
earthquake
iron
Zeus
Mercedes
Big Ben
supermarket
Bugs Bunny
Yin and Yang
drink
rock
drum
piano
white
bench
fall
royal
seashell
Audi
stomach
aquarium
Bitcoin
volleyball
marshmallow
Cat Woman
underground
Green Lantern
bottle flip
toothbrush
globe
sand
zoo
west
puddle
lobster
North Korea
Luigi
bamboo
Great Wall
Kim Jong-un
bad
credit card
swimming pool
Wolverine
head
hair
Yoda
Elsa
turkey
heel
maracas
clean
droplet
cinema
poor
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Africa
whistle
Teletubby
wind
Aladdin
tissue box
fire truck
Usain Bolt
water gun
farm
iPad
well
warm
booger
WhatsApp
Skype
landscape
pine cone
Mexico
slow
organ
fish bowl
teddy bear
John Cena
Frankenstein
tennis racket
gummy bear
Mount Rushmore
swing
Mario
lake
point
vein
cave
smell
chin
desert
scary
Dracula
airport
kiwi
seaweed
incognito
Pluto
statue
hairy
strawberry
low
invisible
blindfold
tuna
controller
Paypal
King Kong
neck
lung
weather
Xbox
tiny
icicle
flashlight
scissors
emoji
strong
saliva
firefighter
salmon
basketball
spring
Tarzan
red carpet
drain
coral reef
nose ring
caterpillar
Wall-e
seat belt
polar bear
Scooby Doo
wave
sea
grass
pancake
park
lipstick
pickaxe
east
grenade
village
Flash
throat
dizzy
Asia
petal
Gru
country
spaceship
restaurant
copy
skin
glue stick
Garfield
equator
blizzard
golden apple
Robin Hood
fast food
barbed wire
Bill Gates
Tower of Pisa
neighborhood
lightsaber
video game
high heels
dirty
flamethrower
pencil sharpener
hill
old
flute
cheek
violin
fireball
spine
bathtub
cell phone
breath
open
Australia
toothpaste
Tails
skyscraper
cowbell
rib
ceiling fan
Eminem
Jimmy Neutron
photo frame
barn
sandstorm
Jackie Chan
Abraham Lincoln
T-rex
pot of gold
KFC
shell
poison
acne
avocado
study
bandana
England
Medusa
scar
Skittles
Pokemon
branch
Dumbo
factory
Hollywood
deep
knuckle
popular
piggy bank
Las Vegas
microphone
Tower Bridge
butterfly
slide
hut
shovel
hamburger
shop
fort
Ikea
planet
border
panda
highway
swamp
tropical
lightbulb
Kermit
headphones
jungle
Reddit
young
trumpet
cheeseburger
gas mask
apartment
manhole
nutcracker
Antarctica
mansion
bunk bed
sunglasses
spray paint
Jack-o-lantern
saltwater
tank
cliff
campfire
palm
pumpkin
elephant
banjo
nature
alley
fireproof
earbuds
crossbow
Elon Musk
quicksand
Playstation
Hawaii
good
corn dog
Gandalf
dock
magic wand
field
Solar System
photograph
ukulele
James Bond
The Beatles
Katy Perry
pirate ship
Poseidon
Netherlands
photographer
Lego
hourglass
glass
path
hotel
ramp
dandelion
Brazil
coral
cigarette
messy
Dexter
valley
parachute
wine glass
matchbox
Morgan Freeman
black hole
midnight
astronaut
paper bag
sand castle
forest fire
hot sauce
social media
William Shakespeare
trash can
fire alarm
lawn mower
nail polish
Band-Aid
Star Wars
clothes hanger
toe
mud
coconut
jaw
bomb
south
firework
sailboat
loading
iPhone
toothpick
BMW
ketchup
fossil
explosion
Finn
Einstein
infinite
dictionary
Photoshop
trombone
clarinet
rubber
saxophone
helicopter
temperature
bus driver
cello
London
newspaper
blackberry
shopping cart
Florida
Daffy Duck
mayonnaise
gummy worm
flying pig
underweight
Crash Bandicoot
bungee jumping
kindergarten
umbrella
hammer
night
laser
glove
square
Morty
firehouse
dynamite
chainsaw
melon
waist
Chewbacca
kidney
stoned
Rick
ticket
skateboard
microwave
television
soil
exam
cocktail
India
Colosseum
missile
hilarious
Popeye
nuke
silo
chemical
museum
Vault boy
adorable
fast forward
firecracker
grandmother
Porky Pig
roadblock
continent
wrinkle
shaving cream
Northern Lights
tug
London Eye
Israel
shipwreck
xylophone
motorcycle
diamond
root
coffee
princess
Oreo
goldfish
wizard
chocolate
garbage
ladybug
shotgun
kazoo
Minecraft
video
message
lily
fisherman
cucumber
password
western
ambulance
doorknob
glowstick
makeup
barbecue
jazz
hedgehog
bark
tombstone
coast
pitchfork
Christmas
opera
office
insect
hunger
download
hairbrush
blueberry
cookie jar
canyon
Happy Meal
high five
fern
quarter
peninsula
imagination
microscope
table tennis
whisper
fly swatter
pencil case
harmonica
Family Guy
New Zealand
apple pie
warehouse
cookie
USB
jellyfish
bubble
battery
fireman
pizza
angry
taco
harp
alcohol
pound
bedtime
megaphone
husband
oval
rail
stab
dwarf
milkshake
witch
bakery
president
weak
second
sushi
mall
complete
hip hop
slippery
horizon
prawn
plumber
blowfish
Madagascar
Europe
bazooka
pogo stick
Terminator
Hercules
notification
snowball fight
high score
Kung Fu
Lady Gaga
geography
sledgehammer
bear trap
sky
cheese
vine
clown
catfish
snowman
bowl
waffle
vegetable
hook
shadow
dinosaur
lane
dance
scarf
cabin
Tweety
bookshelf
swordfish
skyline
base
straw
biscuit
Greece
bleach
pepper
reflection
universe
skateboarder
triplets
gold chain
electric car
policeman
electricity
mother
Bambi
croissant
Ireland
sandbox
stadium
depressed
Johnny Bravo
silverware
raspberry
dandruff
Scotland
comic book
cylinder
Milky Way
taxi driver
magic trick
sunrise
popcorn
eat
cola
cake
pond
mushroom
rocket
surfboard
baby
cape
glasses
sunburn
chef
gate
charger
crack
mohawk
triangle
carpet
dessert
taser
afro
cobra
ringtone
cockroach
levitate
mailman
rockstar
lyrics
grumpy
stand
Norway
binoculars
nightclub
puppet
novel
injection
thief
pray
chandelier
exercise
lava lamp
lap
massage
thermometer
golf cart
postcard
bell pepper
bed bug
paintball
Notch
yogurt
graffiti
burglar
butler
seafood
Sydney Opera House
Susan Wojcicki
parents
bed sheet
Leonardo da Vinci
intersection
palace
shrub
lumberjack
relationship
observatory
junk food
eye
log
dice
bicycle
pineapple
camera
circle
lemonade
soda
comb
cube
Doritos
love
table
honey
lighter
broccoli
fireplace
drive
Titanic
backpack
emerald
giraffe
world
internet
kitten
volume
Spain
daughter
armor
noob
rectangle
driver
raccoon
bacon
lady
bull
camping
poppy
snowball
farmer
lasso
breakfast
oxygen
milkman
caveman
laboratory
bandage
neighbor
Cupid
Sudoku
wedding
seagull
spatula
atom
dew
fortress
vegetarian
ivy
snowboard
conversation
treasure
chopsticks
garlic
vacuum
swimsuit
divorce
advertisement
vuvuzela
Mr Bean
Fred Flintstone
pet food
upgrade
voodoo
punishment
Charlie Chaplin
Rome
graduation
beatbox
communism
yeti
ear
dots
octagon
kite
lion
winner
muffin
cupcake
unicorn
smoke
lime
monster
Mars
moss
summer
lollipop
coffin
paint
lottery
wife
pirate
sandwich
lantern
seahorse
Cuba
archer
sweat
deodorant
plank
Steam
birthday
submarine
zombie
casino
gas
stove
helmet
mosquito
ponytail
corpse
subway
spy
jump rope
baguette
grin
centipede
gorilla
website
text
workplace
bookmark
anglerfish
wireless
Zorro
sports
abstract
detective
Amsterdam
elevator
chimney
reindeer
Singapore
perfume
soldier
bodyguard
magnifier
freezer
radiation
assassin
yawn
backbone
disaster
giant
pillow fight
grasshopper
Vin Diesel
geyser
burrito
celebrity
Lasagna
Pumba
karaoke
hypnotize
platypus
Leonardo DiCaprio
bird bath
battleship
back pain
rapper
werewolf
Black Friday
cathedral
Sherlock Holmes
ABBA
hard hat
sword
mirror
toilet
eggplant
jelly
hero
starfish
bread
snail
person
plunger
computer
nosebleed
goat
joker
sponge
mop
owl
beef
portal
genie
crocodile
murderer
magic
pine
winter
robber
pepperoni
shoebox
fog
screen
son
folder
mask
Goofy
Mercury
zipline
wall
dragonfly
zipper
meatball
slingshot
Pringles
circus
mammoth
nugget
mousetrap
recycling
revolver
champion
zigzag
meat
drought
vodka
notepad
porcupine
tuba
hacker
broomstick
kitchen
cheesecake
satellite
JayZ
squirrel
leprechaun
jello
gangster
raincoat
eyeshadow
shopping
gardener
scythe
portrait
jackhammer
allergy
honeycomb
headache
Miniclip
Mona Lisa
cheetah
virtual reality
virus
Argentina
blanket
military
headband
superpower
language
handshake
reptile
thirst
fake teeth
duct tape
macaroni
color-blind
comfortable
Robbie Rotten
coast guard
cab driver
pistachio
Angelina Jolie
autograph
sea lion
Morse code
clickbait
star
girl
lemon
alarm
shoe
soap
button
kiss
grave
telephone
fridge
katana
switch
eraser
signature
pasta
flamingo
crayon
puzzle
hard
juice
socks
crystal
telescope
galaxy
squid
tattoo
bowling
lamb
silver
lid
taxi
basket
step
stapler
pigeon
zoom
teacher
holiday
score
Tetris
frame
garden
stage
unicycle
cream
sombrero
error
battle
starfruit
hamster
chalk
spiral
bounce
hairspray
lizard
victory
balance
hexagon
Ferrari
MTV
network
weapon
fist fight
vault
mattress
viola
birch
stereo
Jenga
plug
chihuahua
plow
pavement
wart
ribbon
otter
magazine
Bomberman
vaccine
elder
Romania
champagne
semicircle
Suez Canal
Mr Meeseeks
villain
inside
spade
gravedigger
Bruce Lee
gentle
stingray
can opener
funeral
jet ski
wheelbarrow
thug
undo
fabulous
space suit
cappuccino
Minotaur
skydiving
cheerleader
Stone Age
Chinatown
razorblade
crawl space
cauldron
trick shot
Steve Jobs
audience
time machine
sewing machine
face paint
truck driver
x-ray
fly
salt
spider
boy
dollar
turtle
book
chain
dolphin
sing
milk
wing
pencil
snake
scream
toast
vomit
salad
radio
potion
dominoes
balloon
monkey
trophy
feather
leash
loser
bite
notebook
happy
Mummy
sneeze
koala
tired
sick
pipe
jalapeno
diaper
deer
priest
youtuber
boomerang
pro
ruby
hop
hopscotch
barcode
vote
wrench
tissue
doll
clownfish
halo
Monday
tentacle
grid
Uranus
oil
scarecrow
tarantula
germ
glow
haircut
Vatican
tape
judge
cell
diagonal
science
mustard
fur
janitor
ballerina
pike
nun
chime
tuxedo
Cerberus
panpipes
surface
coal
knot
willow
pajamas
fizz
student
eclipse
asteroid
Portugal
pigsty
brand
crowbar
chimpanzee
Chuck Norris
raft
carnival
treadmill
professor
tricycle
apocalypse
vitamin
orchestra
groom
cringe
knight
litter box
macho
brownie
hummingbird
Hula Hoop
motorbike
type
catapult
take off
wake up
concert
floppy disk
BMX
bulldozer
manicure
brainwash
William Wallace
guinea pig
motherboard
wheel
brick
egg
lava
queen
gold
God
ladder
coin
laptop
toaster
butter
bag
doctor
sit
tennis
half
Bible
noodle
golf
eagle
cash
vampire
sweater
father
remote
safe
jeans
darts
graph
nothing
dagger
stone
wig
cupboard
minute
match
slime
garage
tomb
soup
bathroom
llama
shampoo
swan
frown
toolbox
jacket
adult
crate
quill
spin
waiter
mint
kangaroo
captain
loot
maid
shoelace
luggage
cage
bagpipes
loaf
aircraft
shelf
safari
afterlife
napkin
steam
coach
slope
marigold
Mozart
bumper
Asterix
vanilla
papaya
ostrich
failure
scoop
tangerine
firefly
centaur
harbor
uniform
Beethoven
Intel
moth
Spartacus
fluid
acid
sparkles
talent show
ski jump
polo
ravioli
delivery
woodpecker
logo
Stegosaurus
diss track
Darwin Watterson
filmmaker
silence
dashboard
echo
windshield
Home Alone
tablecloth
backflip
headboard
licorice
sunshade
Picasso
airbag
water cycle
meatloaf
insomnia
broom
whale
pie
demon
bed
braces
fence
orange
sleep
gift
Popsicle
spear
zebra
Saturn
maze
chess
wire
angel
skates
pyramid
shower
claw
hell
goal
bottle
dress
walk
AC/DC
tampon
goatee
prince
flask
cut
cord
roof
movie
ash
tiger
player
magician
wool
saddle
cowboy
derp
suitcase
sugar
nest
anchor
onion
magma
limbo
collar
mole
bingo
walnut
wealth
security
leader
melt
Gandhi
arch
toy
turd
scientist
hippo
glue
kneel
orbit
below
totem
health
towel
diet
crow
addiction
minigolf
clay
boar
navy
butcher
trigger
referee
bruise
translate
yearbook
confused
engine
poke
wreath
omelet
gravity
bride
godfather
flu
accordion
engineer
cocoon
minivan
bean bag
antivirus
billiards
rake
cement
cauliflower
espresso
violence
blender
chew
bartender
witness
hobbit
corkscrew
chameleon
cymbal
Excalibur
grapefruit
action
outside
guillotine
timpani
frostbite
leave
Mont Blanc
palette
electrician
fitness trainer
journalist
fashion designer
bucket
penguin
sheep
torch
robot
peanut
UFO
belt
Earth
magnet
dragon
soccer
desk
search
seal
scribble
gender
food
anvil
crust
bean
hockey
pot
pretzel
needle
blimp
plate
drool
frog
basement
idea
bracelet
cork
sauce
gang
sprinkler
shout
morning
poodle
karate
bagel
wolf
sausage
heat
wasp
calendar
tadpole
religion
hose
sleeve
acorn
sting
market
marble
comet
pain
cloth
drawer
orca
hurdle
pinball
narwhal
pollution
metal
race
end
razor
dollhouse
distance
prism
pub
lotion
vanish
vulture
beanie
burp
periscope
cousin
customer
label
mold
kebab
beaver
spark
meme
pudding
almond
mafia
gasp
nightmare
mermaid
season
gasoline
evening
eel
cast
hive
beetle
diploma
jeep
bulge
wrestler
Anubis
mascot
spinach
hieroglyph
anaconda
handicap
walrus
blacksmith
robin
reception
invasion
fencing
sphinx
evolution
brunette
traveler
jaguar
diagram
hovercraft
parade
dome
credit
tow truck
shallow
vlogger
veterinarian
furniture
commercial
cyborg
scent
defense
accident
marathon
demonstration
NASCAR
Velociraptor
pharmacist
Xerox
gentleman
dough
rhinoceros
air conditioner
poop
clock
carrot
cherry
candle
boots
target
wine
die
moon
airplane
think
pause
pill
pocket
Easter
horse
child
lamp
pillow
yolk
potato
pickle
nurse
ham
ninja
screw
board
pin
lettuce
console
climb
goose
bill
tortoise
sink
ski
glitter
miner
parrot
clap
spit
wiggle
peacock
roll
ballet
ceiling
celebrate
blind
yacht
addition
flock
powder
paddle
harpoon
kraken
baboon
antenna
classroom
bronze
writer
Obelix
touch
sensei
rest
puma
dent
shake
goblin
laundry
cloak
detonate
Neptune
cotton
generator
canary
horsewhip
racecar
Croatia
tip
cardboard
commander
seasick
anthill
vinegar
hippie
dentist
animation
Slinky
wallpaper
pendulum
vertical
chestplate
anime
beanstalk
survivor
florist
faucet
spore
risk
wonderland
wrestling
hazelnut
cushion
W-LAN
mayor
community
raisin
udder
oyster
sew
hazard
curry
pastry
mime
victim
mechanic
hibernate
bouncer
Iron Giant
floodlight
pear
sad
paw
space
bullet
skribbl.io
shirt
cow
worm
king
tea
truck
pants
hashtag
DNA
bird
Monster
beer
curtain
tire
nachos
bear
cricket
teapot
nerd
deaf
fruit
meteorite
rice
sniper
sale
gnome
shock
shape
alligator
meal
nickel
party
hurt
Segway
Mr. Bean
banker
cartoon
double
hammock
juggle
pope
leak
room
throne
hoof
radar
wound
luck
swag
panther
flush
Venus
disease
fortune
porch
machine
pilot
copper
mantis
keg
biology
wax
gloss
leech
sculpture
pelican
trapdoor
plague
quilt
yardstick
lounge
teaspoon
broadcast
uncle
comedian
mannequin
peasant
streamer
oar
drama
cornfield
carnivore
wingnut
vent
cabinet
vacation
applause
vision
radish
picnic
Skrillex
jester
preach
armadillo
hyena
librarian
interview
sauna
surgeon
dishrag
manatee
symphony
queue
industry
Atlantis
excavator
canister
model
flight attendant
ghost
pig
key
banana
tomato
axe
line
present
duck
alien
peas
gem
web
grapes
corn
can
fairy
camel
paper
beak
corner
penny
dig
link
donkey
fox
rug
drip
hunter
horn
purse
gumball
pony
musket
flea
kettle
rooster
balcony
seesaw
stork
dinner
greed
bait
duel
trap
heist
origami
skunk
coaster
leather
socket
fireside
cannon
ram
filter
alpaca
Zelda
condiment
server
antelope
emu
chestnut
dalmatian
swarm
sloth
reality
Darwin
torpedo
toucan
pedal
tabletop
frosting
bellow
vortex
bayonet
margarine
orchid
beet
journey
slam
marmalade
employer
stylus
spoiler
repeat
tiramisu
cuckoo
collapse
eskimo
assault
orangutan
wrapping
albatross
mothball
evaporate
turnip
puffin
reeds
receptionist
impact
dispenser
nutshell
procrastination
architect
programmer
bricklayer
boat
bell
ring
fries
money
chair
door
bee
tail
ball
mouse
rat
window
peace
nut
blush
page
toad
hug
ace
tractor
peach
whisk
hen
day
shy
lawyer
rewind
tripod
trailer
hermit
welder
festival
punk
handle
protest
lens
attic
foil
promotion
work
limousine
patriot
badger
studio
athlete
quokka
trend
pinwheel
gravel
fabric
lemur
provoke
rune
display
nail file
embers
asymmetry
actor
carpenter
aristocrat
Zuma
chinchilla
archaeologist
apple
hat
sun
box
cat
cup
train
bunny
sound
run
barrel
barber
grill
read
family
moose
boil
printer
poster
sledge
nutmeg
heading
cruise
pillar
retail
monk
spool
catalog
scuba
anteater
pensioner
coyote
vise
bobsled
purity
tailor
meerkat
weasel
invention
lynx
kendama
zeppelin
patient
gladiator
slump
Capricorn
baklava
prune
stress
crucible
hitchhiker
election
caviar
marmot
hair roller
pistol
cone
ant
lock
hanger
cap
Mr. Meeseeks
comedy
coat
tourist
tickle
facade
shrew
diva
patio
apricot
spelunker
parakeet
barbarian
tumor
figurine
desperate
landlord
bus
mug
dog
shark
abyss
betray HUH SO HARD
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OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…5

Continuing
“Hey, Viv!”, I say, as we’re all being shuttled onto the bus which will take us to our hotel, “Toss me one of those miniatures, if you please. Yeah. Of course, Vodka’ll do. It’s bloody dusty round these parts.”
Viv chuckles and asks if anyone else wants anything. He’s a consummate scrounger and somehow sweet-talked a demure and pulchritudinous female Air China cabin attendant out of her phone number, Email address, and a case of 100 airline liquor miniatures.
That he looks like a marginally graying version of Robert Mitchum in his heyday and speaks fluent Dutch, French, and Italian might explain his success. I mean, a guy with four ex-wives can’t be all wrong, right?
He’s a definite outlier in this crowd. We could be characterized as a batch of aging natural geoscientists who collectively, sans Viv, add up to an approximate eight on the “Looker” scale. Besides the years, the mileage, the climatic, and industrial ravages, it’s a good thing we all have expansive personalities, as most of us are dreadful enough to make a buzzard barf.
But, save for Viv, no one presently here is on the make. Oh, sure; we’ll all sweet talk some fair nubile into a free drink or a double when we really ordered a regular drink, but we’re all married, most terminally, that is, over 35 years and counting. The odd thing is that save and except for Viv, none of us married folk had ever been divorced.
That is strange, considering that the global divorce rate hovers around 50%, and we are often called to be apart from kith and kin for prolonged periods. However, we are always faithful and committed to our marital units and those vows we spoke all those many long decades ago.
But, hey, we’re all seriously male and not anywhere near dead; and there’s no penalty for just looking, right?
Continuing.
We’re all loaded on a pre-war, not certain which war, by the way, bus which stank of fish, kimchee, and diesel fuel. We really don’t care even a tiny, iotic amount. It’s free transport, we’re tired of traveling, and not keen on walking any further than we absolutely have to.
Viv has been passing out boozy little liquor miniatures, and I’ve been handing out cigars since I bought a metric shitload back in Dubai Duty-Free and somehow got them all through customs.
We didn’t light up, as there was neither a driver nor handler present. So, we figured we’d all just wait on the cigars, and concentrate on having a little ground-level “Welcome to Best Korea” party until the powers that be got their collective shit together and provided drivers, herders, and handlers.
We sat there for 15 long minutes. Being the international ambassadors of amity and insobriety, we started making noises like “Hey! Where’s our fucking driver?” and “I am Doctor Academician! Of All State Russian Geological Survey! How dare you make me wait?
Suddenly, a couple of characters in ill-fitting gray suits and fake Rays Bans are outside the bus having a collective meltdown. Somehow, someone fucked up and put us on a ‘regular’ bus and not the ‘VIP’ bus. In other words, we got to see what the locals really got to ride around Pyongyang on instead of our supposed to be impressed by the bus that wasn’t there; but was now just arriving.
A spanking new purple-and-chrome Mercedes long-haul bus shows up. It even has our group name emblazoned above the placard that normally tells where the bus is headed or who it is for: “’국제 석유 지질 과학 연합’ [Gugje Seog-yu Jijil Gwahag Yeonhab] or ‘International Union of Petroleum Geological Sciences’”.
We are brusquely ordered off our present bus and into the opulent, obviously bespoke, bright yellow faux-leather interior Mercedes-Benz Tourismo RH M. It’s so new and so obviously a ploy to get us to think that all things here are so new and opulent, it even smells of that new car, ah, bus, aroma.
“Well, we’ll take care of that soon enough”, I muse, as the bus is equipped with ashtrays and we’re going on the scenic route to our hotel, which is only 25 or so kilometers from the airport. However, it was announced that it’ll take us about 2 hours to get to our hotel since we need to see the city in its best light and get a feeling for the town if we should ever find ourselves lost and alone.
We all know what’s going on. They’re getting our rooms ‘ready’ for our arrival and need some extra time to make sure everything’s all wired in and transmitting properly.
“Guys”, I muse to our new handlers, “I’ve been to the Soviet Union, pre-wall fall. I stayed in places where I was definitely among the first westerners ever to grace their porticos. We’re a busload of natural scientists, of eight different nationalities, covering the economic spectrum from staunch capitalism to sociable socialism to hard-core communism. You even think for a second we’re going to spill any beans about anything you’d find interesting or useful? Think again.”
In fact, it would become a running joke between us all to see what sort of fake bombshells we could drop into the normal conversation what would give the listener’s the greatest case of the jibblies.
But for now, our bags were all loaded into the cargo compartment of this very, very nice, I must admit, mode of conveyance. Our handlers: ‘Yuk’, ‘No’, ‘Man’, and ‘Kong’, are all seated upfront and please with their latest tally of bodies. We have a couple of shady fellow travelers with the knock-off Ray-Bans and shiny gray suits that just appeared out of the woodwork in the back, seated by the loo, watching over all of us, and we’re going on a fucking city tour, whether we like it or not.
We’re all present and accounted for. Let’s keep our camera in our bags for the time being as the drinking and smoking lights had just been lit as the bus fired up its new German-engineered and machined precision diesel engine.
The bus rumbled to life and after a moment or two of checking that all dials, gauges, and indicators were where they were supposed to be; without so much as a cursory glance, we pulled out into traffic.
Except there was none.
Not another bus, pushbike, tap-tap, scooter, car, truck, hover-board, or motorcycle in sight.
Nothing.
Seems we were a big deal. They shut down the main drag so we wouldn’t be encumbered by such proletariat things like traffic jams or people-things cluttering the roadway, clambering for a look at the Western scientific cadre.
So, away we whizzed, sans traffic and into the very belly of the beast, and onward; eventually, towards our hotel.
Our handlers were very kind to point out passing scenes of interest.
“Look, look! There’s the Potong River. Notice all the lovely birds, ‘eh what? See the Norwegian Blue? Beautiful plumage!”
“See here, look. Here’s the Taedong River. Many forms of fish in the river. Maybe we’ll see some fishermen. If you like, we can stop, and ask them about today’s catch.”
We all declined, as we were certain that the fish the ‘random fisherman’ we’d talk to was flown in fresh from elsewhere earlier in the day.
Besides, we were comfortable. We had our drinks, our cigars, and we were leaving the driving to someone else.
After being driven around the city and seeing all the wonderful monuments, like the faux Arch of Triumph, which looks exactly unlike its namesake Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile in Paris.
The Arch of Reunification, a monument to the goal of a reunified Korea, which, by necessity, is unfinished. Then there’s the Tomb of King Tongmyŏng, where people are lining up, just dying’ to get in.
Finally, we all called for our hotel, the Yanggakdo, after yet another mausoleum, the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.
Arches or tombs. Such a stunning array of monuments and places of less than moderate interest.
We were interested in Mirae Scientists street (Future Scientists street). It is a street in a newly developed area in Pyongyang to house scientific institutions of the Kim Chaek University of Technology and its employees. But we were told that it was too late, there was not much there to see, we needed to express written permission to visit, and we’d be going there tomorrow or next week.
We wheel into the parking lot of the Yanggakdo Hotel and are immediately unimpressed by the pseudo-Baroque concrete fiasco that appears to stand, wobbly, before us. It’s a page right out of the Soviet Construction-For-The-Masses Handbook. A cold, gray concrete edifice with multitudes of seemingly little, tiny windows. A perfect metaphor for our travels thus far; look at the expansiveness of Best Korean wonders, through this pinhole.
However, we judged too soon. We were told to go inside and check-in, whilst our luggage would be de-bussed for us and handled by the expertly efficient hotel staff. The lobby was opulent, tastefully laid out in earth tones of facades of veneers of marble, granite, some garnet-mica schist, if my hand lens doesn’t lie, some Prepaleozoic anatectic migmatite, displaying intricate and intense plication, xenoliths, and graphic delineation of minerals by segregation through melting points. There was a gigantic well-appointed and well kept up aquarium, complete with snuffling sharks and nuclear-submarine sized groupers.
Very handsome indeed. Impressions increasing slightly.
Then we see that there’s a bloody casino on the bottom floor of the hotel, several bars interspersed throughout the hotel, and karaoke, of which I’m not terribly fond, but some of my European counterparts almost swooned at the prospect. There are a large pool and weight rooms/gymnasia, saunas and places to relax outside of one’s room, but still under the watchful eye of the thousands of ill-concealed video cameras at every turn.
“Covert surveillance” may be a thing in Best Korea, but it’s a practice still leaves a lot to be desired. The Eastern Siberian Russians back before the wall fell were more covert with their obvious button audio microphones woven into the fabric covering the headboard of your Intourist bed than the Best Koreans here. Their cameras were ‘disguised’ as flower arrangements, overhead lights, and speakers inexplicably placed into things like standing ashtrays, refuse bins, and randomly placed holes in the wall.
The floors were all covered with exquisite what looked to be hand-woven rugs of most vibrant crimson and gold; the usual Communistic colors. Always with some sort of floral pattern or pattern that’s supposed to be reflective of nature, as I was told. Evidently, for workers to remember what nature was as they don’t get out much with 14 to 16 hours workdays here in the Worker’s Paradise.
Enough of the travelogue; we all wander up to the front desk, and each with their own passport in hand, request our reserved rooms. We supposed that we would all have rooms on different floors as the reservations were made, expired, re-made, juggled, rebooked, allowed to expire, re-jiggered, and finally formalized a scant week before we left the UK.
Nope. No such luck. We were all on the 39th floor. The place boasts 47 floors, of which, the top floor is a revolving restaurant. Evidently, food tastes better when you’re rotating.
However, it won’t spin unless you first buy a drink.
We had that thing whirling like a NASA centrifuge after its discovery the second night.
Yeah, all 12 of us are bivouacked on the 39th floor. A floor with approximately 30 rooms.
I guess we could have played “Room Roulette” and see who got which room and who’s luggage. Or we could switch every day or two to drive our handlers nuts. Or, we could just take our assigned rooms, which were conveniently located one empty room apart.
Meaning, no one had adjoining rooms. Why? Fuck if I know. We didn’t spend much time in our rooms, and that time was either sleeping or showering. We’d all meet at the bar, casino, restaurant, karaoke, bowling alley (all three lanes) or actual meeting rooms every once in a while when we thought we should get together and compare notes. It was the most inexplicable situation.
Plus, we spent an inordinate amount of time waiting on the fucking elevators to take us to our room. These elevators, and if you think you’re going to get a batch of aging senior scientists to schlep it up 39 floor’s worth of stairs, think again; are the slowest elevators in the civilized world. And that was the consensus of scientists representing not only Europe and North America, but Russia as well. 15-25 minutes added to each journey, up or down; stopping on every floor, except 5, on the way down..
Jesus Q. Fuck, dudes. If you can’t construct a bleedin’ elevator that works better than those at the Sozvezdie Medveditsy Guest House in Lesosibirsk, Eastern Siberia; then I suggest you seriously rethink your plans for world domination and new world order.
Grako and Erwin once, while waiting for the fucking elevator, figured out that we were earning some US$25 each just to wait for the lift to arrive and take us to our rooms. Every day. Sometimes several times per day.
With that, we all agreed to toss our “waiting time” funds into a kitty and on our last day of captivity here, blow it all in the hotel casino. Whatever became of that would be donated to the Koreans we thought most deserving of our largesse.
Would it be our handlers? How about the Korean Scientists we’d be meeting? The affable and most accommodating concierge? Or that plucky little Korean charwoman who was always on our floor and kept everything spotless, right down to our freshly laundered and pressed field clothes and newly polished field boots; done without our requesting or knowledge?
Only time would tell.
It could be a fortune or it could be bupkiss. Just like our expectations of the Heavenly Kingdom where we were currently sequestered.
As it was, with our official protestations, they kept only photocopies of our passports as we roundly refused and threatened a full-scale karaoke battle right here in the lobby if they didn’t relinquish our passports immediately. I had broken out my nastiest cigar and was primed to offend.
With that, we all had our keys and trooped over to the elevators for our first, of many, inexplicable waits. We made many uncharitable and potentially nasty remarks about the Anti-Western posters that made up some of the wall décor. Once we finally made it to our floor, we all fanned out to find our rooms. Viv found his first and was quite pleased to report to the rest of us that there was a “Welcome” basket in his room.
We all hoped that we would be receiving one a well.
I was in room 3914; which I considered a close call, but later only wondered as there was no 3913. Upon entering, I saw it was 1980s Hotel 6 opulent, but with an excellent over-city view. True it was late, dark, and the city was only somewhat lit up; I was looking forward to the view of the town in full daylight.
The room had a ‘king’ bed; that is if the king in question was Tutankhamen, the stubby, Egyptian boy king. The bed had no mattress pad and no box spring but it was hard enough for my liking. Many of my compatriots didn’t agree and complained bitterly. They eventually received thin mattress pads for all their kvetching.
There was an ancient Japanese color television, which only had 2 English language channels - Al Jazeera and the BBC, which was on a dated news loop. Watching the local channel is amusing though; the ads for ‘personal enhancements’ were hilarious, even without understanding a word of the language.
There were a couple of chairs and a low table, built-in dresser drawers for our clothes, a rusty and probably unusable room safe with corroded batteries, a small table built out of the wall that would serve as my travel office, and would-you-believe, a rotary telephone; how’s that for nostalgia?
There was an old-model radio built into the nightstand next to the bed. I was very surprised to find it not only received AM, FM but shortwave as well. I had brought along a pair of Bose headphones and during some rainy down days, spent many fun-filled, and I mean that sincerely, hours DXing from the comfort of my ‘enormous’ king bed.
Beyond that, the room was very nondescript. Like any other of the millions of rooms in hotels around the world that unlike here, aren’t claiming a 5-star rating. I mean, it was clean, if not a little long in the tooth. But didn’t smell too terrible, even after I took care of that with my Camacho offerings. It was utilitarian, everything worked, even the water pressure, which surprisingly could strip off layers of one’s skin if you weren’t careful.
The bathroom, though no Jacuzzi, had a large enough bathtub for the occasional soaking period. Western accouterments in the bathroom were also welcome additions. My knees can’t handle the traditional squat-holes any longer.
There were an electric teapot and several brands of tea, but no coffee. A quick “Gee! I sure wish I had some coffee!” to the four walls and damned if 30 minutes later, a porter didn’t arrive to replenish my tea and courtesy in-room coffee…
There was a small Japanese brand in-room refrigerator which I thought might house a mini-bar. Oh, no! It was actually a complimentary larder stocked with all sorts of Best Korean goodies. Multiple cans of Taedonggang beer. Several bottles of Pyongyang Soju, in various flavors ranging anywhere from 16.8 to 53 percent alcohol by volume. My fridge was skewed towards the right-hand side of the bell curve; the more heavy-duty boozy side.
Evidently, my reputation had preceded me again.
There was a selection of German-style wheat beers from the Taedonggang Brewery and the more familiar ales, steam beers, and lagers. There were some imported beers like Heineken, Bavaria, Pils, a couple of Japanese brands: Asahi and Kirin, and something called ‘Hello Beer’ from Singapore.
There were also ‘sampler’ bottles of Apricot Pit wine, and a couple of high-alcohol fruity liquors made from constituents such as apple or pear, and mushrooms. There were also special medicinal liquors like ‘Rason’s Seal Penis Liquor’.
That is going home with me unopened.
There were a couple of bottles of local sake, called Chonju. Finally, there was a couple ‘samplers’ of homemade alcohol known as Makkoli. Plus there was something called ‘Corn Grotto’, which for the life of me, looks and tastes much like a very passable Kentucky Sippin’ Bourbon.
I put our concierge on instant danger money the very next day. He’s yet to source me more than a fifth of the stuff so far.
I found that there is a popular drink here which mirrors the Yorsch of Mother Russia. Beer and soju can be mixed to create *somaek’; a foamy, frothy, funky drink of many flavors, depending on the soju chosen.
Is ethnoimbibology at thing? The science of how different cultures drink and the effects of drinking culture on different societies. If not, now I have another Ph.D. to pursue after I endow a chair at some likely Asian university.
Anyways, in everyone’s room was a “welcome” basket, just chock full of Best Korean goodies. Postcards, stamps, ads for coin sets, stamp proofs and other goodies that could be purchased at the hotel. There was a field notebook, which I thought was a very nice addition, newspapers, cookies, crackers, biscuits, candies, fruit drinks, and some fresh fruit; although tamarind chewies and durian chips aren’t on my list of personal favorites.
There were a couple of tour books, just chock full of staged photos. These were very nice as well, as so far, we haven’t had much time for shopping outside of government stores or smaller family-run shops in town or out in the boonies.
A few of us were hungry and decided to see what the hotel had to offer room service-wise.
Bupkiss.
But, they did have a selection of restaurants. There is a Chinese restaurant, a European restaurant, and a Korean restaurant on site but they all serve the same food...a Best Korean attempt at western food. And it was weird being the only ones in the restaurant even though it was fully staffed.
We grazed lightly and decided to do some late-night perambulations around our hotel. Our handlers admonished us to stay within the confines of the hotel, or see them if it was absolutely necessary to go walkabout. In the hotel, we were on our own.
We found that there were tunnels in the hotel’s basement. The basement tunnels were a real bonus. There’s a bar with pool tables, a karaoke room, bowling, and a massage parlor, where I was beaten and pummeled into submission by tiny, diminutive, little Korean lassies fully 1/5th my size.
It was wonderful.
There was a hairdresser’s, who were completely befuddled by my shoulder-length silver-gray locks and full gray Grizzly Adams beard. They did provide a lovely shampoo/cranial massage though for the equivalent of US$2.
There were a couple of shops selling Chinese goods rather than local stuff, which was sort of disappointing, a cold noodle bar, and another casino. No shops selling Korean Communist propaganda posters, as I wanted to augment my Soviet-era collection. Perhaps I’ll find something in-country later on.
We were shocked to find that the casino had WiFi that was uncensored and we were able to access; after a fee of liquor miniatures and a cigar or two. We were supposed to have access to the global internet, not local intranet, from the universities that we would be visiting. However, all of that was under the heavily squinting eyes of handlers and guys in shiny suits wearing fake Ray-Bans.
I still had my secret satellite internet lash-up available, but that was iffy, a pain in the ass to set up, and ridiculously expensive. However, it did work on the 39th floor and the times I used it instead of wandering down to the tunnels, no one appeared to be the wiser. Thus far.
So typically, we’d just head to the basement casino with our laptops, iPads, and phones. Bam! Robert’s your Sister’s Husband, we could connect more-or-less free with the outside world; hence how you are reading this now.
Herro! “Yes, I’d sure like another beer. This time a porter, if you please.”
The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain. Or the more they put into locks, the easier they are to pick.
Besides, we were told we’d have access to unfettered and free internet. OK, so we just found it for ourselves. Whaddya expect? We’re scientists, motherfucker, back off.
Ahem.
Back to reality.
The breakfast buffet the next morning had a wide choice of Asian and Western food, although the choices seemed to be the same every day. The main event was to beat the Chinese tourists to the egg station every morning. Breakfast always included fried eggs, a limited selection of pork, kippered fish, potatoes, rice, fruit, and a very Titanium-dioxide-white white bread
After a while, I took to going to the small market behind the lobby, buying some imported Chinese or Japanese nibbly bits and heading to the tunnels for a few breakfast beers before the long hard day’s work. It took almost a week, but I gained the trust of some of the workers in the tunnels and they showed me the on-site microbrewery at the hotel. It produced very passable, and very, very cheap beers of several varieties.
Liquid bread. Beer. Is there nothing it can’t do?
After breakfast our first day at the hotel, we were told to meet in the Conference Room “Il-sung” as we were going to have a ‘Welcome foreign imperialist scientists’ introduction and indoctrination.
Besides our handlers and the shiny-suit squad, there were several Korean folks we didn’t recognize. These were students, scientists, and scholars from the Kim Chaek University of Technology, Kim Il-sung University, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology; all hailing from Pyongyang, and the University of Geology from North Hwanghae Province.
“Oh, marvelous”, Erlen remarked, “It’s going to be a bloody Chautauqua. We’ll be here all day.”
“Well”, I replied, “It could be worse. We could be on a bus headed off on another unscheduled road trip.”
As we found our seats, our Korean counterparts were busily setting up portable screens, like the ones your grandfather had for showing his 2.1 Googleplex worth of travel slides every Christmas or Thanksgiving get-together. They had a couple of ancient Chinese brand laptops that could have doubled for body armor, they were so thick and heavy.
While they fiddled with running cords for the overhead projectors and 16mm film projector; yes, it was going to be movie time as well, the hotel’s restaurant folks wheeled in carts laden with scones, cupcakes, and other sweet sorts of bakery. Another cart was wheeled in with pump-pots of hot water, tea, and coffee. Usual scientific meeting fare.
There was one final cart that made the day bearable. It held a pony keg of hotel micro-brewed beer on ice, with several dozen frosty mugs available for all who wanted to partake.
There were instantly 12 mugs that were spoken for.
I grabbed a cold beer and wandered around the conference room, sipping beer, chewing on an unlit cigar, and just trying to be pleasant to our hosts and their scientific guests. I was surprised when one North Korean professor, who spoke amazingly British-tinged English, offered me a light for my cigar.
“Is smoking allowed here?” I asked.
“Allowed?” he laughed heartily, “My good man, it’s practically a prerequisite.”
“Here then”, I said, offering him a nice, unctuous Camacho, “Try one of mine.”
Dr. P'ung Kwang-Seon of the North Korean University of Geology became my instant and lifelong friend at that moment.
We had a very nice chat, much to the chagrin of the gray suit cadre, who could hear what we were talking about, but probably didn’t understand anything beyond every 8th word.
After a while, we were asked to take our seats, after refreshing our drinks, and introduced to the group of Korean geoscientists we’d be interacting with during our stay here in Best Korea.
I tried to record every name, but between the students, other scholars, and professors from the various universities, I decided I’d ask for a list of participants once the day had worn on. After all, they had all our names, references, and resumes if the thick folio they kept referring to was any indication.
There were a couple of hours of introductions, as every one of the Korean geoscientists there introduced themselves, mostly through translators, told of their personal area of specialty, and their latest work.
Most were what would be considered geoscientists, but oddly enough, not one that you would consider a petroleum geoscientist, however tangentially.
There were geomorphologists, structural geologists, petrologists, mineralogists, marine geologists, engineering geologists, and seismologists. However, there were no stratigraphers, sedimentologists, paleontologists, or geochemists. We were all geoscientists, but apart from the obvious Korean:English disparity, it was as if we spoke different scientific languages as well.
That would be our first hurdle to overcome.
They had no oil industry here; none whatsoever, therefore why one would bother with the geosciences that fed directly into petroleum? That, in and of itself, would make it difficult to explore for oil in the country. Couple that with the fact that they’re so insular, think their version of ‘science’ is the best, at least that’s the official line, and think all other’s ‘science’ is capitalistic, substandard, and inferior doesn’t bode well for your country discovering anything either oily or gassy.
We were having another conclave around the beer keg, ack, err…a ‘coffee break’ and I mentioned this fact to my scientific colleagues.
“Guys”, I need input here, “We’re going to get precisely nowhere if they won’t even acknowledge that they have major problems from the start.”
Ivan replies, “Very true. I’ve seen this before back home. You get a group so entrenched in their own little corner of science, they can’t even accept or acknowledge that others exist. Not only exist but actually know more about a certain problem than do you.”
Dax joins the fray, “Sure, that’s very true, but who’s going to tell them this unfortunate fact? They could take that as a personal, national, and global insult. Imagine you’re at an international conference and a bunch of foreigners walk in just to tell you you’ve been doing it all wrong for the last 75 years.”
I add, “Remember, though. These characters are scientists as well. I think it’ll be a good measure of seeing what sort of science and scientist we’re dealing with here. If they are truly researchers, they’ll listen to and evaluate what we say as for veracity and accuracy. If they’re just a bunch of Commie goons; no offense, Comrade Academician Ivan, they’ll get all pissed off, kick us out, and we get to go home and enjoy our triple Force Majeure pay.”
Ivan walks over and deliberately steps on the toes of my newly polished field boots.
“In Soviet Russia, field boots walk on YOU.” He laughs in his heavily inflected, and scary, Soviet-era speech…
“Yes, I agree”, Joon adds, “But who is going to address this issue with our hosts? Perhaps one of our Russian comrades, as they are, or were, more politically aligned with our Korean friends and perhaps best understand the issue?”
Ack speaks up, grinning maniacally, “No, I disagree. We should have the one person here who so encapsulates the ideologies and political leanings that they love to hate here so much. You know; the quiet, diminutive, and soft-spoken North American…”
Dax recoils, “Oh, no! I’m not going out in front of this mob of ornery Orientals…”
I smile wanly and tell Dax to cool out.
“Relax, Dax. They’re talking about me.”
“Oh, yes”, a collective group of voices replies, “Yes. Let out fearless Team Leader break the bad news to our Eastern Colleagues. That way we can gauge their reactions to being bounced around scientifically by a member of the Evil Capitalist Cartel.”
“OK”, I reply, “I’ll do it. But be forewarned, my fine feathered fiends. I get stuck on a topic that’s not precisely my bailiwick, I’m going to throw your ass to the wolves. Remember, we’re all in this together.”
Whoops, and catcalls were reduced to mumbles and ‘Aw, fucks.’.
Chautauqua resumption was called and I asked for the floor.
It was a bit off the agenda, but since they’ve been chewing the air for the last several hours, they understood it would be appropriate for us to at least try and get a word in edgewise.
I downed my beer, and grabbed a fresh one as what I was going to say was going to be harsh, cut-and-dried, and rather pointed. But delivered in a pleasant manner.
I hoped.
This all had to be filtered through a series of translators, one for general conversational Korean and another for the more technical and scientific transliterations. I realized I was going to be up here for a while. So, I brought a cigar.
One way or another, I was going to deliver our pronouncements and hell, I may as well be comfortable while doing it.
.
“Greetings and felicitations, my Eastern Colleagues. Let me first say how nice it is to be here in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as part of the ….”
I’m going to fast-forward through all the flowery bullshit and introductory happiness; I’ll going to just cut to the guts of the matter.
“…Now, you do know why there has been virtually no oil, gas nor any other hydrocarbon related deposit discovered here in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea?” I asked by way of a rhetorical question.
I sipped my beer and lit my cigar. In for a chon, in for a won.
I let the buzzing subside on the side of our eastern counterparts.
“Because, and please do not take this as insulting or derogatory, but as a statement of irrefutable fact, no one with the proper training nor experience has been looking. You’re historically guilty of applying the science incorrectly and letting dogma and politics guide your search, instead of the scientific method and the facts. Geology, like all natural science, is just as truth based on the facts for a capitalist as it is for a communist. Reality is not influenced by your beliefs, be they scientific or political, secular or spiritual, ‘trusted’ rather than ‘thought’; any more than by your wish that it wouldn’t rain today during a raging thunderstorm.”
Little Boy over Hiroshima was dropped with less effect.
Our Democratic People's Republic of Korea colleagues erupted into a chaotic mixture of stuttering, internecine yelling, accusations, and sputtering.
Calling for decorum, I figured that since I was this far gone, I may as well push the plunger all the way to the bottom.
“Gentlemen, I do not denigrate the science of geology as taught and practiced here in Best Korea.” I actually said that, sort of a slip of the tongue. Continuing, “However, one would not fish for Bluefin tuna from a rowboat in a pond with a fly rod. One does not hunt bear in the city with a slingshot. Just as one doesn’t search for oil and gas with mining engineers, geomorphologists, and seismologists.”
I let that sink in and after the translation, they calmed a bit and wanted to hear the rest of what I had to say. I could sense a couple was less than thrilled with what I had to say, but forging onward…
“One fishes for Bluefin tuna in the deep ocean with huge rods, reels and a specialist boat captained by someone with deep experience in hunting the elusive fish. One hunts bear in the proper environment, the taiga or forest, with the proper tools and guided by one with the education, learnedness, and experience to know how to make the hunt come out successful.”
Hit them with some analogies they can relate to and digest. Now, go for the carotid.
“Just like one does not hunt oil and gas without stratigraphers, sedimentologists, geophysicists, petrophysicists, and other oil and gas experts who have the education, experience, and knowledge to know where to look. Knowing which environment looks most conductive to hide your quarry, if you’ll pardon the pun, and how best to find them, the guys who know how to corral and de-risk them once you find them, and the engineers and technologists who know how to bring them to the surface so they can be utilized.”
They had stopped being irritated and were listening in rapt attention.
“My colleagues and I have spent the last few days going over, in detail the geology of your country. There is nothing we can see that would preclude the development, entrapment, and preservation of economic quantities of oil and gas. Ture, the geology is quite complex as is the structural history of the entire peninsula. That’s one other thing you will have to accept. Geology doesn’t give the tiniest shit about political boundaries. One must look at the big picture, and that doesn’t stop at some man-made borders. Ignore that fact at your peril, because if you continue to view the geology here as not existing across political boundaries, you are preadapting yourself for failure.”
Drs. Ivan, Volna, and Morse make certain that everyone sees the ex-Soviets agreeing with the bushy-bearded, cigar-chomping American capitalist.
“So,” I said, hoping to bring this little spit-balling session to a fortuitous close, “If we can have an agreement; scientific agreement, on these points, then I am certain we can find a way forward with not only this discussion but the program we can devise for the best Korean (notice phase shift?) geologists to take the project forward both scientifically soundly and economically successful.”
My North Korean counterpart gets up from his seat in the conference room, goes to the keg, taps a couple of beers and walks up to the podium where I was standing.
“Thank you, Dr. Rocknocker, for saying what needed to be said”, he spoke in perfect English as he handed me a beer.
I grinned and gratefully accepted the beer.
“Why, Dr. Chang Kwang-Su”, I said, as that was his name, “You old fraud. You do speak English; and very well, I must add.”
“Yes, almost all of us do”, he relayed, “But, as you said, we are most reserved. We were more or less under orders of the ‘most illustrious’, to play coy, and act as if we spoke no English.”
“I see.” I said, “I’ve worked in several FSU countries as well as Russia and saw that there as well. I guess old habits die hard.”
“That they do, Doctor.”, he replied, “But, we must now tell you the truth. We knew exactly what you said is true, and we agree. We are not as totally insulated from the outside world as some suspect.”
“Well, I was going on what your superiors related to us. Like the police that had all their toilets stolen, I had nothing else to go on.” I replied.
“Ah, ha! Quite!”, he chuckled, “We had long suspected that we were lacking in certain areas of scholarship. What you said cements that fact as it was an independent conclusion. We can now present that to our superiors with the caveat that unless we bolster work and training in these areas, the hunt of hydrocarbon resources here will be for naught.”
“I am relieved”, I said, truthfully. “I was slightly concerned that some might take umbrage to being told their science is not up to specifications. I tried to be the bearer of that bad news but deliver it gently. Here, I find you need that to use that as a truncheon to smack one’s boss upside the head and tell him that an upgrade is required. And fast.”
“Ah, so”, he replies, “We are in total agreement. Now that is out of the way, we would appreciate it if you’d help in designing a course of study for up and coming local geoscientists. Then, we can go forward with a great plan to search for oil and gas here in…Korea. Correct?”
“Absolutely”, I remarked, “You’ve got over 400 man-years of science and exploration expertise here in this room alone. Let’s shoot for the moon, so to speak. Let’s get you up to speed on scientific journals and articles that are available out there in all of academia and industry. Let’s get you communicating on a global basis. Let’s prove that you can talk science with global scientists and still not have it affect your political or nationalistic aspirations one little bit. Let’s see if we can drag you, figuratively speaking, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.”
“Doctor”, Dr. Chang remarked, “You are the embodiment of what we were always told what Americans are. Brash, loud, confident, and evil. Except for evil, you are American as we were led to believe.”
“Hey, I take that as a compliment”, I exclaim. “You think that’s bad, I’ve got a bunch of earnest Europeans, raucous Russians, and a couple of cagey Canadians on my side as well. Before we’re finished here, we’ll have you ordering hachee, dining on Caldo Verde, snacking on salmiakki, drinking Russkaya vodka with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, eating poutine, and rooting for the Packers.”
“Doctor, I don’t know what half of that means, but I hope it comes to pass. It sounds most fascinating.” Dr. Chang chuckles.
The rest of the day was spent with various groups crystallizing and breaking off from the main crowd; then reforming as different groups. This was good, as it showed an interest across not only national borders but across ideologies and scientific specialties.
Most everyone here spoke English with some degree of fluency, so the translators were called in only occasionally.
I made certain they were included in everything that transpired that day. I want everyone to feel ‘part of the team’. How better to show the classlessness of Western science to include everyone in on both sides of every discussion and activity?
To be continued…
submitted by Rocknocker to Rocknocker [link] [comments]

Default English word list

Alright so, I took the default database from there https://skribbliohints.github.io/ and with the help of html, I extracted the words to a list separated by commas. It's useful when you want to translate those words into your native language.
Word of advice, when using google translate, do not put all words at once there, it can rapidly worsen the translation.
(And there is a last thing. Their algorithm of picking only custom words is not working really good, at least for me. Meaning that I often get duplicates, despite having a list this big and without duplicates. I'm still trying to find some solution to this, so if somebody is experiencing this as well, share the knowledge please, I will do the same.)
SOLUTION: Thanks for the reply from PepegaWR who identified the cause. I also tested it and there seems to be a custom words limit of 5000 characters. The easiest way in my opinion is to shuffle the words before each session to minimize the impact. Also thanks to the flynger who had the same idea before me :)
Finally, here it is, enjoy the scribbling ^^ :

ABBA, AC/DC, Abraham Lincoln, Adidas, Africa, Aladdin, America, Amsterdam, Android, Angelina Jolie, Angry Birds, Antarctica, Anubis, Apple, Argentina, Asia, Asterix, Atlantis, Audi, Australia, BMW, BMX, Bambi, Band-Aid, Barack Obama, Bart Simpson, Batman, Beethoven, Bible, Big Ben, Bill Gates, Bitcoin, Black Friday, Bomberman, Brazil, Bruce Lee, Bugs Bunny, Canada, Capricorn, Captain America, Cat Woman, Cerberus, Charlie Chaplin, Chewbacca, China, Chinatown, Christmas, Chrome, Chuck Norris, Colosseum, Cookie Monster, Crash Bandicoot, Creeper, Croatia, Cuba, Cupid, DNA, Daffy Duck, Darwin, Darwin Watterson, Deadpool, Dexter, Discord, Donald Duck, Donald Trump, Dora, Doritos, Dracula, Dumbo, Earth, Easter, Easter Bunny, Egypt, Eiffel tower, Einstein, Elmo, Elon Musk, Elsa, Eminem, England, Europe, Excalibur, Facebook, Family Guy, Fanta, Ferrari, Finn, Finn and Jake, Flash, Florida, France, Frankenstein, Fred Flintstone, Gandalf, Gandhi, Garfield, Germany, God, Goofy, Google, Great Wall, Greece, Green Lantern, Grinch, Gru, Gumball, Happy Meal, Harry Potter, Hawaii, Hello Kitty, Hercules, Hollywood, Home Alone, Homer Simpson, Hula Hoop, Hulk, Ikea, India, Intel, Ireland, Iron Giant, Iron Man, Israel, Italy, Jack-o-lantern, Jackie Chan, James Bond, Japan, JayZ, Jenga, Jesus Christ, Jimmy Neutron, John Cena, Johnny Bravo, KFC, Katy Perry, Kermit, Kim Jong-un, King Kong, Kirby, Kung Fu, Lady Gaga, Las Vegas, Lasagna, Lego, Leonardo DiCaprio, Leonardo da Vinci, Lion King, London, London Eye, Luigi, MTV, Madagascar, Mario, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars, McDonalds, Medusa, Mercedes, Mercury, Mexico, Michael Jackson, Mickey Mouse, Microsoft, Milky Way, Minecraft, Miniclip, Minion, Minotaur, Mona Lisa, Monday, Monster, Mont Blanc, Morgan Freeman, Morse code, Morty, Mount Everest, Mount Rushmore, Mozart, Mr. Bean, Mr. Meeseeks, Mr Bean, Mr Meeseeks, Mummy, NASCAR, Nasa, Nemo, Neptune, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nike, Nintendo Switch, North Korea, Northern Lights, Norway, Notch, Nutella, Obelix, Olaf, Oreo, Pac-Man, Paris, Patrick, Paypal, Peppa Pig, Pepsi, Phineas and Ferb, Photoshop, Picasso, Pikachu, Pink Panther, Pinocchio, Playstation, Pluto, Pokemon, Popeye, Popsicle, Porky Pig, Portugal, Poseidon, Pringles, Pumba, Reddit, Rick, Robbie Rotten, Robin Hood, Romania, Rome, Russia, Samsung, Santa, Saturn, Scooby Doo, Scotland, Segway, Sherlock Holmes, Shrek, Singapore, Skittles, Skrillex, Skype, Slinky, Solar System, Sonic, Spain, Spartacus, Spiderman, SpongeBob, Squidward, Star Wars, Statue of Liberty, Steam, Stegosaurus, Steve Jobs, Stone Age, Sudoku, Suez Canal, Superman, Susan Wojcicki, Sydney Opera House, T-rex, Tails, Tarzan, Teletubby, Terminator, Tetris, The Beatles, Thor, Titanic, Tooth Fairy, Tower Bridge, Tower of Pisa, Tweety, Twitter, UFO, USB, Uranus, Usain Bolt, Vatican, Vault boy, Velociraptor, Venus, Vin Diesel, W-LAN, Wall-e, WhatsApp, William Shakespeare, William Wallace, Winnie the Pooh, Wolverine, Wonder Woman, Xbox, Xerox, Yin and Yang, Yoda, Yoshi, Youtube, Zelda, Zeus, Zorro, Zuma, abstract, abyss, accident, accordion, ace, acid, acne, acorn, action, actor, addiction, addition, adorable, adult, advertisement, afro, afterlife, air conditioner, airbag, aircraft, airplane, airport, alarm, albatross, alcohol, alien, allergy, alley, alligator, almond, alpaca, ambulance, anaconda, anchor, angel, anglerfish, angry, animation, anime, ant, anteater, antelope, antenna, anthill, antivirus, anvil, apartment, apocalypse, applause, apple, apple pie, apple seed, apricot, aquarium, arch, archaeologist, archer, architect, aristocrat, arm, armadillo, armor, armpit, arrow, ash, assassin, assault, asteroid, astronaut, asymmetry, athlete, atom, attic, audience, autograph, avocado, axe, baboon, baby, back pain, backbone, backflip, backpack, bacon, bad, badger, bag, bagel, bagpipes, baguette, bait, bakery, baklava, balance, balcony, bald, ball, ballerina, ballet, balloon, bamboo, banana, bandage, bandana, banjo, bank, banker, bar, barbarian, barbecue, barbed wire, barber, barcode, bark, barn, barrel, bartender, base, basement, basket, basketball, bat, bathroom, bathtub, battery, battle, battleship, bayonet, bazooka, beach, beak, bean, bean bag, beanie, beanstalk, bear, bear trap, beatbox, beaver, bed, bed bug, bed sheet, bedtime, bee, beef, beer, beet, beetle, bell, bell pepper, bellow, belly, belly button, below, belt, bench, betray, bicycle, bill, billiards, bingo, binoculars, biology, birch, bird, bird bath, birthday, biscuit, bite, black, black hole, blackberry, blacksmith, blanket, bleach, blender, blimp, blind, blindfold, blizzard, blood, blowfish, blue, blueberry, blush, boar, board, boat, bobsled, bodyguard, boil, bomb, booger, book, bookmark, bookshelf, boomerang, boots, border, bottle, bottle flip, bounce, bouncer, bow, bowl, bowling, box, boy, bracelet, braces, brain, brainwash, branch, brand, bread, breakfast, breath, brick, bricklayer, bride, bridge, broadcast, broccoli, broken heart, bronze, broom, broomstick, brownie, bruise, brunette, brush, bubble, bubble gum, bucket, building, bulge, bull, bulldozer, bullet, bumper, bungee jumping, bunk bed, bunny, burglar, burp, burrito, bus, bus driver, bus stop, butcher, butler, butt cheeks, butter, butterfly, button, cab driver, cabin, cabinet, cactus, cage, cake, calendar, camel, camera, campfire, camping, can, can opener, canary, candle, canister, cannon, canyon, cap, cape, cappuccino, captain, car wash, cardboard, carnival, carnivore, carpenter, carpet, carrot, cartoon, cash, casino, cast, cat, catalog, catapult, caterpillar, catfish, cathedral, cauldron, cauliflower, cave, caveman, caviar, ceiling, ceiling fan, celebrate, celebrity, cell, cell phone, cello, cement, centaur, centipede, chain, chainsaw, chair, chalk, chameleon, champagne, champion, chandelier, charger, cheek, cheeks, cheerleader, cheese, cheeseburger, cheesecake, cheetah, chef, chemical, cherry, cherry blossom, chess, chest, chest hair, chestnut, chestplate, chew, chicken, chihuahua, child, chime, chimney, chimpanzee, chin, chinchilla, chocolate, chopsticks, church, cicada cigarette, cinema, circle, circus, clap, clarinet, classroom, claw, clay, clean, clickbait, cliff, climb, cloak, clock, cloth, clothes hanger, cloud, clover, clown, clownfish, coach, coal, coast, coast guard, coaster, coat, cobra, cockroach, cocktail, coconut, cocoon, coffee, coffee shop, coffin, coin, cola, cold, collapse, collar, color-blind, comb, comedian, comedy, comet, comfortable, comic book, commander, commercial, communism, community, compass, complete, computer, concert, condiment, cone, confused, console, continent, controller, conversation, cookie, cookie jar, copper, copy, coral, coral reef, cord, cork, corkscrew, corn, corn dog, corner, cornfield, corpse, cotton, cotton candy, country, cousin, cow, cowbell, cowboy, coyote, crab, crack, crate, crawl space, crayon, cream, credit, credit card, cricket, cringe, crocodile, croissant, crossbow, crow, crowbar, crucible, cruise, crust, crystal, cube, cuckoo, cucumber, cup, cupboard, cupcake, curry, curtain, cushion, customer, cut, cute, cyborg, cylinder, cymbal, dagger, daisy, dalmatian, dance, dandelion, dandruff, darts, dashboard, daughter, day, dead, deaf, deep, deer, defense, delivery, demon, demonstration, dent, dentist, deodorant, depressed, derp, desert, desk, desperate, dessert, detective, detonate, dew, diagonal, diagram, diamond, diaper, dice, dictionary, die, diet, dig, dinner, dinosaur, diploma, dirty, disaster, disease, dishrag, dispenser, display, diss track, distance, diva, divorce, dizzy, dock, doctor, dog, doghouse, doll, dollar, dollhouse, dolphin, dome, dominoes, donkey, door, doorknob, dots, double, dough, download, dragon, dragonfly, drain, drama, drawer, dream, dress, drink, drip, drive, driver, drool, droplet, drought, drum, drum kit, duck, duct tape, duel, dwarf, dynamite, eagle, ear, earbuds, earthquake, earwax, east, eat, echo, eclipse, eel, egg, eggplant, elbow, elder, election, electric car, electric guitar, electrician, electricity, elephant, elevator, embers, emerald, emoji, employer, emu, end, engine, engineer, equator, eraser, error, eskimo, espresso, evaporate, evening, evolution, exam, excavator, exercise, explosion, eye, eyebrow, eyelash, eye shadow, fabric, fabulous, facade, face, face paint, factory, failure, fairy, fake teeth, fall, family, farm, farmer, fashion designer, fast, fast food, fast forward, father, faucet, feather, fence, fencing, fern, festival, fidget spinner, field, figurine, filmmaker, filter, finger, fingernail, fingertip, fire alarm, fire hydrant, fire truck, fireball, firecracker, firefighter, firefly, firehouse, fireman, fireplace, fireproof, fireside, firework, fish, fish bowl, fisherman, fist fight, fitness trainer, fizz, flag, flagpole, flamethrower, flamingo, flashlight, flask, flea, flight attendant, flock, floodlight, floppy disk, florist, flower, flu, fluid, flush, flute, fly, fly swatter, flying pig, fog, foil, 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wrestler, wrestling, wrinkle, wrist, writer, x-ray, xylophone, yacht, yardstick, yawn, yearbook, yellow, yeti, yo-yo, yogurt, yolk, young, youtuber, zebra, zeppelin, zigzag, zipline, zipper, zombie, zoo, zoom,
submitted by StaroSVK to skribbl [link] [comments]

ULTRA CANADA

Hey Ultra Nauts! I've been wondering why we haven't received an Ultra Music Festival here in our beautiful country, Canada.
A population of now almost 40 million people, mainly all located on the East Coast who are each and every day hungry for endless of entertainment. Especially in locations like Toronto and Montreal. The two major cities in Canada. We are a country built by migration and share the same culture as the United States of America.
Ultra has established all around the world with "ULTRA WORLDWIDE", especially in countries like Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, Korea, Taiwan, and many other areas. So why not Canada?
Here is why I believe ULTRA CANADA would work. In Canada, our dollar is cheaper meaning many Americans will attend this festival with a cheaper cost which would allow easily for the tickets to be sold. Marijuana is legal while in some States in the US like Florida it is not, the drinking age here is 18 while in the US it's 21. Having these advantages would allow hundreds up to thousands of Americans to consider partying here in our Country with a festival as huge as Ultra being played. Especially Americans up in the North.
Furthermore, our cities in Canada are all close to one another, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Trois Riviere, and Toronto, except Vancouver of course. These Canadian cities are also close to the Northern cities in the US like Boston, New York, Washington DC, Detroit, Cleaveland, Pittsburg, Toronto ( Ohio ) and that is without including the Towns and Villages in our Country and in the Northern side of the States.

To continue, because Canada is a country built by immigrants, I can easily picture people like in Europe to come and attend the Festival like the one in Miami, since people from Europe have family here and I am confident they would love to party with their loved ones in a beautiful festival like Ultra. The Euro is strong and their trip to here will be even cheaper than visiting the United States, so sales of tickets should sell out even quicker than the festival in Florida.

My recommended location for ULTRA CANADA would be either Toronto or Montreal, especially Montreal on the Formula 1 Race Track which is located on an Island connected to a 6 Flags Amusement Park, a major Casino, and Two Museums. Now hear me out! This isn't Virginia Key! The island is accessed to a Metro system that is connected directly to Montreal and Longueuil. It is also connected to the Major bridge "The Jacque Cartier bridge", another small bridge and of course a dock for boats. The venue is capable of holding up to 60 000 people which is more than Bayfront Park and just 20 000 less than the major festival located in Belgium which I will not speak of. There are of course many other possible venues but this one is my favorite. We can consider Montreal as the Northen little brother of Miami. The city is known for partying and clubbing all night. Its located directly near the water like Toronto and its always ready for new and exciting ideas.
As for dates, I was thinking the month of June where the weather gets pretty warm here and beautiful. It's also the month where 1000s of Americans come and visit for our shows and of course the Formula 1 race. Ultra can establish on the venue either before or right after the major Formula 1 race.

To conclude from all of this, I and plenty of Canadians are still shocked that Ultra hasn't established here yet, consider the profit it can make. We can only pray and hope.

THANK YOU for taking the time and reading my first ever Reddit post. Much love and respect to you all!

- A fellow Canadian who is a massive fan of Ultra <3
submitted by CallMePaulChek to UMF [link] [comments]

Trip Report: The 10 Best Sightseeing Activities in Singapore

Singapore has a lot to offer visitors, from modern skyscrapers to charming colonial neighborhoods, those who have the chance to explore Singapore will have no trouble filling their time, and their stomachs, with the rich cultures that can be found here.
Singapore is small enough that you can travel from one end of the country to the other in around two hours by the state-of-the-art subway system (MRT), the official language is English, and you can drink the water straight out of the tap. In addition, Singapore enjoys one of the lowest crime-rates on Earth, so you can relax knowing you can explore the city safely. It is sometimes referred to as “Asia Light” because you can get a taste of Asian culture, while enjoying easy travel and all the comforts and conveniences of one of the wealthiest cities on the continent.
I have spent a good amount of time here exploring the tiny city-state and playing tour guide for visiting friends and family members. Here is my list of the best attractions for short-term visitors to check out while exploring this fascinating city.

Marina Bay

A scenic walk around Singapore’s Marina Bay is the perfect way to take in some of the best views of the city’s awe-inspiring skyline. Marina Bay is surrounded with some of Singapore’s most famous landmarks. To the south, there is the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel with its three skyward towers crowned by a world-famous infinity pool, the ArtScience Museum, with its high-tech salad bowl architecture, and Gardens by the Bay. To the north, the imposing skyline of Singapore’s Central Business District provides a backdrop for the Fullerton Hotel with its Merlion statue, the official mascot of Singapore, with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, and Theatres on the Bay performing arts center. The Theatres on the Bay building was intended to look like a microphone, but locals endearingly refer to it as “The Durian” because it also closely resembles the stinky fruit commonly eaten in Malaysia and Singapore.
Marina Bay is located at the southern end of the downtown core, where the Singapore River meets the South China Sea. You can reach the bay via the Bayfront MRT station which will drop you off underneath the upscale shopping mall that adjoins the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Be sure to stay for Spectra, a laser light, music and water show at Marina Bay that happens Sunday-Thursday 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm, and Friday and Saturday 8:00 pm, 9:00 pm, and 10:00 pm.

Gardens by the Bay

Singapore Gardens by the Bay was originally conceived in 2005 as part of an effort to transform Singapore into a “City in a Garden”. Consisting of 250 acres of manicured gardens, and admission is free. The main attractions are two large glass conservatories, the Flower Dome, and the Cloud forest, and the Supertree Grove.
The Flower Dome is the largest glass greenhouse in the world without internal supporting columns, and is filled with hundreds of species of carefully manicured flower and plant gardens.
The Cloud Forrest is a towering structure designed to simulate high-elevation tropical habitat, and features a huge indoor waterfall. Visitors can take an elevator to the top and walk down through the various levels of the structure which contain exhibits along the way. The Cloud Forrest features an excellent exhibit on the effects of global warming in the region and the world.
The Supertree Grove consists of towering structures designed to act as artificial trees. Each tree is covered in species of ferns orchids and other plants representing different regions. Be sure to catch Garden Rhapsody, nightly at 7:45 and 8:45, a light show synchronized to music at the Supertree Grove. The electricity to power the lights and music is sustainably generated at the Gardens by the Bay.
Gardens by the Bay is carefully engineered for conservation. The conservatory domes collect rain water for the park, while electricity is generated by photovoltaic cells to generate electricity, and biomass in the form of plant trimmings from the garden are burned to generate steam and power turbine generators.
Admission to Gardens by the Bay is totally Free, but there is a fee to enter the conservatory domes. You can visit the website for the latest events and details http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en.html

Hawker Centers

It has been said that you can tell a lot about a culture by its food. While Singapore has a huge array of fine dining options for visitors, the hawker centers are what feed the locals. Singaporean food has influences stemming from China, Malaysia, India, and the rest of Southeast Asia, and should be on any visitor’s list of things to check out.
Hawker centers are basically food courts which first sprang up in Singapore in the 1950’s in an attempt to manage the street vendors who were setting up shop all over Singapore. An overabundance of street food was causing congestion, and made it nearly impossible to oversee sanitation. The solution was to move vendors into permanent stalls in large food centers, where health officials could ensure sanitary conditions.
In my opinion the best food in Singapore can be found in the hawker centers, and for reasonable prices too. If you are planning to sample of Singapore’s culinary delights, you might consider skipping the indoor restaurants, and head straight to the local hawkers.

East Coast Park Lagoon Food Center

This is my personal favorite choice to experience Singaporean food. Located on East Coast Park, this hawker has some of the best food in Singapore, with an amazing view of the ocean. Get there early to ensure that you can get a good table, buy a bucket of beer, and sample the rich food culture of Singapore on the beach. This is a great place to try seafood, including the infamous chili crab, one of the unofficial national dishes of Singapore. Chili crab is a whole crab cooked in a rich spicy curry. Soft fried buns are usually eaten alongside chili crab so soak up the delicious sauce. The chicken, mutton, and beef satay are also a must-try. After your dinner you can work off some of your meal by walking along the ocean, watching the large ships mooring offshore while they wait to access the Singapore Harbor.
The best way to get to East Coast Park Lagoon is by taxi, as MRT does not go there. Be sure to tell the driver that you want to go to “East Coast Park Hawker”, not “East Coast Park Seafood."

Maxwell Food Centre

Located nearby Singapore’s vibrant Chinatown, the Maxwell Food Center offers visitors the chance to try a selection of Singapore’s most famous dishes, at a convenient downtown location. Probably Maxwell’s most famous stall is Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice. Made famous by an endorsement from celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, long lines are usually present to sample the poached or roasted chicken and fragrant garlic rice. Personally I would skip the line, as the other chicken rice vendors at Maxwell are also excellent, but you certainly can’t go wrong with Tian Tian. Keep an out for roti prata at Maxwell. Roti prata is a Malaysian Muslim dish which is similar to a crepe, filled with egg, onion, and/or cheese, and served with a rich curry for dipping. Roti prata is my favorite breakfast in Singapore.

Lau Pa Sat Festival Market

Lau Pa Sat is located in the center of Singapore’s financial district. Located in the historic Telok Ayer Market building, which was originally built on what was at the time Singapore’s waterfront in 1824, Lau Pa Sat is a great place to get your grub on. The best time to go is after 7:00 pm, when they close one of the adjacent streets for “Satay Street”, where vendors compete to see who grills the best satay, or delicious skewers of marinated meat that are served with a peanut dipping sauce.

Cable Car to Sentosa

The small Island of Sentosa was built just off the southern coast of Singapore as a resort and entertainment destination. Sentosa is covered in theme parks, water parks, golf courses, and beach-front bars. Universal Studios is one of Sentosa’s main attractions, but visitors can race down a zip-line, take a bungee jump, navigate a street luge course, see one of the world’s largest aquariums, or try their luck at the casino.
You can get to Sentosa by taxi, on foot, or by monorail. My favorite way to reach the island is by the incredibly scenic Cable Car. The Cable Car consists of small gondolas on a sky-high cable that runs from Mt. Faber on the mainland, through the Harbourfront Center building, all the way across a long waterway to Sentosa. The Cable Car provides some of the best views of Singapore, and is definitely the way to get to Sentosa in style.
You can ride the cable car to Sentosa by taking a taxi to Mt. Faber, or hopping on MRT to the Harbourfront Station (Vivo City). Round trip tickets are USD $20, but even budget travelers might find the experience worth a splurge.

Chinatown

Singapore is more than 75% ethnic Chinese, so it should come as no surprise that it is home to a lively and thriving Chinatown. Visiting Chinatown offers visitors to Singapore an opportunity to experience the sights, smells, and flavors of China right in the heart of Singapore. Chinatown is made up of several blocks of colorful colonial style shop-houses just outside of the Central Business District.
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is one of the main attractions in Singapore’s Chinatown. The temple offers visitors the chance to visit an active working Buddhist temple. The structure itself is not old, built in 2007 in the style of Chinese Tang architecture at a cost of $75 million dollars. The temple gets its name because it houses a tooth that is said to have belonged to the Buddha. The tooth was discovered in a collapsed golden stupa in Myanmar in 1998, and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple was built to offer a suitable place to house the holy relic. The temple is four stories high, with a large prayer wheel and serene garden on the roof. Admission is free of charge, including the excellent museum showcasing the history of Buddhism. The temple is located on South Bridge Road and Sago Lane, which was once referred to as the street of the dead as it was once lined with “death houses”. In Chinese superstition, it is unlucky if anyone dies in the family home, so early Chinese immigrants to Singapore sent their elderly to places like Sago Lane to await their end.
Chinatown food street is located on Smith Street, right in the heart of Chinatown. Closed to car traffic, the street is lined with hawker stalls and outdoor seating, offering a great place to try some of Singapore’s local favorites. The stalls tend to be a little more expensive on food street, than in Singapore’s plentiful hawker centers, but the lively atmosphere makes up for it. Smith Street is also home to Liao Fan Hawker Chan Restaurant (78 Smith Street). Hawker Chan has received the coveted Michelin Star award for its chicken rice in 2016, and is widely acclaimed as the cheapest place to try a Michelin Star meal in the world at well under five bucks a plate.
Singapore’s Chinatown is also one of the best places to pick up inexpensive souvenirs for your friends and family back home. Many of the streets of Chinatown are lined with shops featuring the best of Singapore’s touristy nick-knacks, and at some of the lowest prices on the island due to the amount of competition.

Little India

The bright colors and bustling streets of Little India, offer visitors a taste of the Indian sub-continent right in central Singapore. Little India holds a large share of Singapore’s hostels and budget accommodation options, so if you are traveling on the cheap, odds are you will get to know Little India pretty well. The main things to do in Little India, are shop and eat.
Little India Arcade is a small collection of shop-houses that were built in 1913. The narrow streets are closed off to traffic, and are lined with shops selling curiosities from India. This is a great place to do some souvenir shopping while exploring the fascinating wares that the vendors are offering.
The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is a colorful Hindu Temple in the heart of Little India, the temple was built in 1881 and is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. Inside, a statue of Kali can be seen adorned with a garland of human skulls.
Mustafa Centre is Singapore’s answer to a Walmart. This huge shopping complex is open 24 hours, and consists of sprawling labyrinth-like corridors spanning several floors of multiple buildings. If Mustafa Centre doesn’t have it somewhere, it probably doesn’t exist.
For great cheap food, stop by Sakunthalas Restaurant at 151 Dunlop Street. They serve up a variety of Indian dishes at bargain prices. Be sure to order a “teh tarik” or pulled tea to go with your meal.

Singapore Zoo

A visit to the Singapore is a great way to spend an afternoon or an evening while visiting Singapore. I am a little bit hesitant to recommend zoos to travelers, as they sometimes get a bad rap for their treatment of the animals. The Singapore Zoo is truly an exceptional zoo, and I am pleased to report that enclosures and care for the animals are first-rate. Most of the animals have plenty of space to roam. Some, like the monkeys don’t even really have cages, and can wander around in the primate area as they please. I have actually seen wild local monkeys interacting with the monkeys at the zoo on more than one occasion. The elephants have acres of land that they can walk, and all of the enclosures are clean and well cared for. Visiting the Singapore Zoo will offer you a chance to see wildlife from around the globe and you can learn about the threats to endangered animals in Southeast Asia. For a particular treat, you can even arrange to have breakfast with the orangutans.
Have you ever gone to a zoo, and half of the animals are just lying there asleep? That’s because many of the animals are nocturnal, and are mainly active at night. The Singapore Zoo Night Safari is the perfect way to see how all of the animals that are normally sleeping during the day behave once the sun goes down. On the night safari, guests are driven around the zoo on a tram, offering a glimpse into the alter ego of the wild kingdom.
The Singapore Zoo River Safari showcases the fish and animals that live in the world’s largest river systems. The River Safari is unique, as most aquariums highlight saltwater and ocean fish. It is really amazing to see just how diverse life in freshwater systems can be. The river safari also offers two optional boat tours at an additional cost.
The Night Safari, and River Safari, are available as an add-on to zoo admission, or as a separate ticket. Personally I prefer the River Safari to the zoo, as it is not that often that you have a chance to explore the Earth’s freshwater habitats in an aquarium.

Nature Reserves

Most visitors to Singapore would never guess that the ultra-modern city was once nothing more than mangrove swamps and thick jungles. While most of the tiny island has been paved, and is now home to towering skyscrapers, there are still a few wilderness areas where you can get a taste of the dense forests that once dominated the landscape in Singapore.

MacRitchie Reservoir

The MacRitchie Reservoir is Singapore’s oldest reservoir, built in 1838. There is still more than 1 square kilometer of virgin jungle next to the reservoir, that hikers can explore via wooden boardwalks and trails. Water monitor lizards and monkeys are commonly seen along the trail, and the latter can even be a nuisance if you do not keep your food hidden from sight. Trails range in length from 3-11 km. It can be unbearably hot and humid in the jungle in Singapore, so be sure to bring plenty of water, and visit in the morning to avoid the afternoon heat. MacRitchie Reservoir can be easily accessed by the Marymount MRT station. Where else, can you take the subway to get to the jungle to hike with wild monkeys and giant lizards?

Sungei Buloh Wetlands

Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve is located to the extreme north of Singapore, next to the causeway that separates Singapore from West Malaysia. The park is home to swampy mangrove forests and estuaries that attract all sorts of wildlife. On a typical walk at Sungei Buloh, you can expect to see water monitor lizards, monkeys, countless bird species, mudskippers, dragonflies, and even saltwater crocodiles. The trails are impeccably maintained, and flat. There are birdwatching blinds, and benches along the trail, making this more of a casual nature walk than a hike, but Sungei Buloh is still one of the best places to spot what is left of the wild animal species that once dominated the island of Singapore.

Haw Par Villa

Haw Par Villa is without a doubt one of the strangest attractions in Singapore. Originally built in 1934 by the Haw brothers, who were the creators of Tiger Balm ointment, the sprawling complex was originally the grounds for one of the family’s lavish mansions, and an amusement park. The amusement park/grounds were intended to teach school children about Chinese culture by depicting scenes from Chinese folklore in the hundreds of statues that cover the grounds. Despite seemingly constant maintenance, the statues seem to be in a constant state of disrepair, giving the park the vibe of a long-abandoned, dilapidated amusement park, straight out of a horror movie. The main attraction at Haw Par Villa, is “The Ten Courts of Chinese Hell”, an indoor depiction describing the ten hells, and the sins that will land you in each one. Admission is totally free, and you can reach the park from the Haw Par Villa MRT Station.

Tiger Brewery

The largest brewery in Singapore, Tiger Brewery offers regular tours of their extensive operation located on the west side of Singapore. Tiger brews beer for several different brands, including ABC and Guinness. The tour costs about USD $15, and includes a generous sampling of Tiger’s brews in the tasting room. Getting to the brewery is a bit of a trek, as MRT does not go directly to Tiger. The best way is by taxi, or tour can hop on one of Singapore’s excellent public busses to save some cash. Tickets should be purchased in advance. You can reserve a spot on a tour here https://tigerbrewerytour.com.sg/
The original posting of this trip report (with pictures) can be found here https://www.mymola.com/the-10-best-sightseeing-activities-in-singapore/
submitted by SuperflyCookiePuss to TravelNoPics [link] [comments]

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