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Friday 11 November 2011

Singapore 2009

Singapore, November 1999

While sitting in our small TV room watching the news, Alex’s best travel bets came on. One of his special features was a holiday to Singapore and the Indonesian island of Bali. Shelagh and I looked at each other and pretty much decided then and there that we must go. The holiday comprised of three nights in Singapore and 12 nights in Bali, and came in under $5000.00 on a B&B basis. Pretty good deal! We booked and waited for the departure date, still a couple of months away.

Finally in November were found ourselves at Vancouver’s international airport checking in at the Singapore Air counter. The first of quite a few wonderful experiences with this airline. In flight, the service was impeccable, the flight attendants all beautiful women and the food amazing. We arrived at our stopover in Seoul, South Korea after a 10-hour flight quite tired and eager to move on. The wait was about an hour and we re-boarded the jet for the next flight from Seoul to Singapore, a seven-hour flight. We arrived at Singapore’s Changi International airport at midnight local time, exhausted. A bus took us to our hotel along the beautiful East Coast Parkway. We checked in and shared a bottle of duty free wine to calm our selves down for a good sleep.

The lobby of our hotel as seen from the 23rd floor

The next morning at 8:00 AM Shelagh flung open the curtains and rousted me out of bed. “Get up, you can’t just lay there, we’re in Singapore”! A quick shower and we were ready for a little breakfast at the hotel followed by a walk around town. We walked to the financial district and found it, well, businessy and stark, so we continued along the waterfront to the older parts of town known as the historical district. We wondered along Boat Quay and browsed the shops along the waterfront. There are lots of funky places to eat and sit and people watch, but we had a limited amount of time so we hoofed our way through as much of the city as my legs could stand.

Boat Quay

After a while we wandered into a shopping mall and found a place for a quick lunch of Korean cuisine. Super spicy soup and a delicious noodle dish. Why we were eating in a shopping mall still baffles me but it just happened that way. After lunch we continued our walk and ended up at Raffles Hotel, famous for it’s past elite clientele. The world famous long bar is there and it’s the birthplace of the “Singapore Sling”. We ordered one, and then another one. Total cost $72.00 Sin. A small fortune, but well worth it. Some of the folks whole bellied up to the long bar were the likes of Rudyard Kipling, Winston Churchill, Charley Chaplin, Amelia Earhart and Peter & Shelagh Kouwenhoven.

Raffles Hotel

In the Courtyard

The Long bar

Time for a Sling
Next we hit the main shopping district of Singapore, “Orchard Boulevard”. It’s November and the streets were all decorated in Christmas themes, a bit strange, it’s 32°C with 95% humidity and the music says that the weather outside is frightful! But we battle on and I find a nice store to buy a new set of headphones for my Sony Discman. Now nearly 13 years later they both still work fine!

Orchard Boulevard

Christmas Decor

Funky little streets
After nearly nine hours of walking and sauntering through the streets and this great city Shelagh manages to buy some ice cold Heinekens and we drag ourselves into our hotel room for a break from the heat and humidity and enjoy a nice “cold one”. A couple of hours later we’re ready to find dinner!

Boat Quay at night

Boat Quay at night

Along Boat Quay we noticed some lovely restaurants on the waterfront with views of the river, and we decided to walk there, I had taken some Advil to keep my hip joints from killing me. Exactly at 06:30 the sun splashes into the ocean and it’s dark, just like that. All the little lanterns along the quay guide the way to food, drink and entertainment of all varieties. It being wet season there was not much outdoor seating, but some enterprising restaurant owners has put up large market umbrellas to keep the customers happy and dry. We found a nice Lebanese place and had a great dinner in the tropics with a cold beer. We walked back to our hotel because the next morning the bus would be ready for us at 06:30 AM to take us back to the airport for our flight to Bali, Indonesia. In our room we enjoyed the second bottle of duty free wine, and sleep came quickly…

We realized that three nights does not mean three days, our stay in Singapore was much too short, but we do believe that for the time we were there we did see a lot. On the return trip from Bali to Vancouver we had one more night in this great city and we enjoyed another fine dinner along Boat Quay. Some day we will return.