Saturday, October 21, 2006

Living the Dream ...

... and its hot!

I have a private bet with myself that we will have no delays at all on this trip simply to limit our use of airport business class lounges and all their comfortable, free, help yourself, coffee, snacks, newspapers etc. etc.

Once on board our Quantas flight we were massaged most of the way to Singapore by our Skybed seats, which among lots of other things are also able to gently knead your back for five minutes every time you push a button in the arm rest - no, I didn't manage to sleep a lot during the flight!

We did crash out for a couple of hours when we reached the hotel which joy of joys had a room ready for us at 8.00am. On coming too, being fuzzy, and not capable of much, we thought an open topped bus trip round the city would be a good idea. It was. We had a great overview of the city; of Orchard Road, Chinatown, Little India, the Esplanade and its splendid new theatre that looks like the top of a couple of microphones, Raffles, and so on and so forth. The Haze - had lifted especially for us, and we could see blue sky and the top of skyscrapers.

After our quick dip into the town we went back to the hotel, the Shangri-La, for a cuppa tea by the pool and a quick dip. Then a quick change and out for dinner with Nick's friends Vanessa and Philip. Vanessa works for Nick, she is his Asia manager, her husband Philip went to college at Loughborough and knows Swindon. They took us to the Long Beach seafood restaurant, which is on reclaimed land at Marina South. It was fantastic. We enjoyed a seafood banquet, starting with bamboo clam, (I'm searching my childhood memory banks, I think we may have called them razor shells, but I'm not 100% certain of correct recall here) with loads of garlic and spring onion, that prepared us for working our way through both chilli crab and black pepper crab and a pile of prawns.
glutinous black rice pudding with ice cream
We finished off with the most spectacular pudding - 'glutinous black rice pudding and ice cream' which came out served over smokin' dry ice! Fantastic!

To shake it all down we had a walk along the river admiring the bright lights and Singapore's iconic Merlion statue spewing out a torrent of water by the bridge. A very special evening.

On Thursday we came round at 9.00am local time having slept like logs from midnight. Hopefully banishing any jet lag lurking around. This morning we wandered round Takashimaya, a huge Japanese Department store in a Mall called NAC. Lovely goodies, we could have bought masses if we'd had enough room, we even looked at suitcases, but sense prevailed, after all we do have to lug them round with us! We had lunch in the basement food hall. A cheerful, noisy, cavernous place. Amazing value.

Then onto the Asian Civilisations Museum which has been opened for 4 years now and the taxi drivers still don't know where it is! Ours dropped us off at the Singapore Art Museum, which would have been great to look round if we had had the time, but we were on a mission!

We finally reached the beautifully refurbished colonial administrative buildings, behind the swanky Fullerton Hotel, at Empress Place, which provides an appropriate backdrop to a fabulous collection of artefacts from mainly 4 Eastern areas. India, the birthplace of 4 major religions, Hinduism, Buddism, Jainism and Sikisim; China, with different regional cultures tied together by common bonds of an imperial system of government, writing, and a hierarchical social system based on Confucianism; Southeast East Asia, Thailand, Indonesia, and headhunting tribes from Malaya - Singapore's nearest neighbours, whom they split from when Singapore became an independent republic in 1965; and West Asia, what I guess we would call the Middle East, concentrating here on the rise of Islam.

To try and give some sort of meaning to all these beautiful objects we joined an English speaking tour taken by a jocular American who described himself as a 'trailing spouse' - his wife is working in Singapore on a two year contract, he tagged along for the ride and to keep himself occupied takes these tours. He gave a tantalising glimpse into the mysterious world of The East, totally fascinating. We could have spent a week just in the ACM but with limited time other parts of Singapore were calling us.

We caught a Rickshaw - yes with my weight - the guy was game. He steadily cycled us through the traffic, pointing out the sights, to Raffles Hotel where we downed the mandatory Singapore Sling in the Long Bar the pink, sweet tasting, gin based cocktail hit the spot.
Singapore Sling at the Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Tomorrow morning we are 'doing' orchids in the Botanical Gardens before flying onto Sydney tomorrow evening. Which to you dear readers in the northern hemisphere would be all upside down time - when day is night, and involves a days change or so .....


PMM&L said...

Showed M picture of the hotel foyer in Singapore. She gasped! Looks fab. Don't eat too many puddings!!! You'll have to get gym membership in Sydney!!!

axx said...

Took me ages to figure out which picture you meant! I've just had a major tussle with Blogger on the position of Sunday in Sydney pics!

I've changed the Shangri-La link to go direct to reception :-) Glad M was suitably impressed - so were we :-)

Thought I was over any jet-lag. (Don't think we really had any) Must be just yer ordinary run of the mill slow brain syndrome!