Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Melbourne – Singapore. Monday 26.9.05, Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Posted by Lisa Hill on November 14, 2005

The flight from Tullamarine was uneventful and arrived half an hour early because of a tail wind. Singapore Airlines is terrific – very attentive, and the seats are a bit more comfortable than Air Lauda to Vienna in 2001. We didn’t sleep much, but listening to Alistair Cooke’s ‘Letters from America’ on my new i-Pod was great – and Carl was right, noise reducing headphones do blot out the drone of the plane and the bawling babies!
$32.05 for two coffees and a muffin! Our first mistake, but it was nice coffee… The Ritz-Carlton is very pleasant, expensive and new, and full of obsequious waiters, some of whom actually bow. We arrived by bus transfer, abandoned our luggage to the porter and went in to register. Popping into the hotel cafe for a snack and a coffee afterwards, however, meant that they charged us for a hotel breakfast at $44 per head, and having just forked out an extra $30 for a room with a harbour view from the 21st floor, Tim asked for the bill to be amended. It was, but it was still the most expensive coffee I’d ever had.
Check-in wasn’t till noon, so we took off on a city tour (in an air conditioned bus, of course). We saw (briefly) the things I wanted to see: the City Hall where the Brits surrendered to the Japanese ; the old Supreme Court Building – and its ultra-modern replacement like a space dish; Raffles Hotel, made famous by Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway and Co, as well as film stars like Grace Kelly; and the Old Colonial Post Office – now Fullerton’s Hotel on Fullerton Rd.
We ‘did’ the Indian Quarter and Chinese Town, the same the world over, but still the scents were intoxicating and by the time we took a walk through Chinatown we were starving – body clocks still on Melbourne time two hours later and well past our lunch time!
The shopping doesn’t interest me, but Singapore is a lovely city. I like the contrast between the dynamic modern buildings in sparking glass and the crisp white Colonial buildings, cheek by jowl with the colourful clutter of the markets.

Flowers and plantings – palms, bougainvillea, frangipani, and orchids – are everywhere, on the forecourts and balconies of buildings, on the pavements and roadsides, in parks and gardens.
The whole island is smaller than Melbourne (approx 22km x 42km, with 4 million people) but they have a thriving economy based on biotech, education, trade and finance. They are doing nicely despite the Asian economic crisis, SARS and 9/11 because it’s safe and clean, and it’s a hub for conferences.
If only it weren’t so hot!


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