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)

Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’

Singapore, Saturday May 30th 2015

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 30, 2015

Fullerton HotelWell, here we are in Singapore, en route to the UK and Europe.  The flight was uneventful and as always with Singapore Airlines, the service was faultless.  Even the food is edible!

We are staying at the Fullerton Hotel, which is very grand.  There were two Rolls Royces parked outside when we arrived (in a Toyota Camry taxi).  This is the last of the grand hotels that we’ll be enjoying in Singapore: now that we’ve had a night at Raffles (which was lovely) and another at the Marina Bay Sands (too crowded, too noisy) we shall in future be staying in less expensive places.  But it is a lovely way to start a holiday, especially when there is a 14-hour long haul next, to London.

courtyardroomWe have a courtyard room, which is spacious and comfortable and deliciously cool.  Through the window we can look down to the courtyard which is where we had afternoon tea last time we were here in Singapore.  We went there again tonight for some splendid patisserie after we’d had a rather ordinary Chinese meal along the river.  I couldn’t help thinking of Masterchef as I tucked into a scrumptious chocolate bombe, washed down with a nice glass of Baileys…

It’s only nine o’clock here but it’s after eleven Melbourne time, so it’s time to curl up with a book in bed.

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Singapore 2012

Posted by Lisa Hill on August 20, 2012

Well, here we are in Singapore, en route to Russia.  It’s been a long day.

We’re staying at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, and yes, it is the most spectacular hotel in Singapore but it’s not quite our kind of place.  We are on the 24th floor, and the view is gorgeous, but as soon as you step outside the peace and quiet of your room, there are people everywhere.   Like Chadstone at Christmastime on steroids!

We ventured upstairs to the Skypark to check out the restaurants but abandoned it very quickly and went in search of somewhere quieter.  After a whole day on the plane we were much too tired to explore very far, but eventually we found a place called High Society which was a bit more serene.  The food was forgettable, which is not what you expect in Singapore, but by then we didn’t care very much.

Back up in the room with the harbour lights twinkling, it feels more relaxed.  Tomorrow is another day!

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Singapore: Asian Civilisations Museum 27.9.05

Posted by Lisa Hill on November 16, 2005

After a good night’s sleep in the lap of luxury we made an early start for the Asian Civilisations Museum. ( We had a terrific tour guide, Sandra, who showed us around the museum in Empress Place. (There are two, the other one covers a later period in Singapore history). Her theme was the voyages of a C13th Chinese admiral who made seven voyages before there was a change of emperor and all trade and contact with other countries was shut down. The emperor ordered that all records about the admiral be burnt, so all that is known about him is from records of places that he visited and from journals of those on the journey.
She showed us beautiful Chinese artefacts including an imperial bowl with a seal so fine that only the user could see it, and some less fine quality porcelain made for trade. There was also a bowl for a Sumatran emperor and some chinoiserie that my mother would love!
Singapore, she said, was a place between the two great civilisations of India and China, so there are elements of both cultures in some artefacts – like a Buddha with a top-knot, and on Chinese pottery, the Hindu swastika, for them, a symbol of hope for happiness. Islamic culture was influential too, because of their interest in continuing to develop knowledge during the European Dark Ages. There was a book of medicines, a pharmacopia, and navigation tools – which were developed because Muslims need to be able to orientate themselves towards mecca.
There was also a wonderful display of the Tang Ship, the wreck of an Arab dhow discovered only in 1998 and the contents restored and put on display. Wonderful pottery, especially the green splashware which I’d never seen before. There was a ewer with a lion’s head stopper, and some enchanting soup bowls which had tiny 3D animal figures in the bottom of the bowl… perhaps to encourage children to finish eating their dinner??
Definitely a place to visit again on a Singapore stopover.

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Singapore – dining in style 26.9.05

Posted by Lisa Hill on November 15, 2005

Did we check out Singapore’s fabled cuisine? Of course we did!
Our first meal was lunch: crispy fried noodles for Tim, Tandoori chicken for me and champagne cocktails too.
At night, we dined at the Ritz-Carlton and started with a Singapore Sling (as you do). There was an appetiser of watercress soup in a tiny glass, a tiny mousse and bread & dukkah, followed by a seafood platter groaning with prawns, sashimi, smoked salmon, crayfish, mussels, oysters and even yabbies! To follow, snapper en cocotte, made by placing butter and the seasonings in the bowl of a special plate like an inverted bishop’s hat, sealed with puff pastry so that it steamed inside. Dipping the crispy pastry in this buttery sauce was just sublime.
Tim has to learn how to do this at home!

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Singapore Aquarium on Sentosa Island 26.9.05

Posted by Lisa Hill on November 15, 2005

It’s also worth heading over to Sentosa Island to see Underwater World, an aquarium with a fabulous collection of exotic fish, up close and personal, as they say. We circled their tank on a conveyor belt full of shrieking Chinese tourists and their cameras. The aquarium is basically a zoo that has, alas, failed to provide a natural habitat with places to hide for the fish, but it’s interesting. And, Singapore being a hi-tech sort of place, there are holograms of sharks to amuse the visitors.

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Singapore Botanic Gardens 26.9.05

Posted by Lisa Hill on November 15, 2005

So what do you do in Singapore if you don’t want cheap gold chain, tailor-made suit, fine silk gown?
You take a taxi to the Botanic Gardens. Taxis are cheap, plentiful and air conditioned, and the gardens are shady and cool. Orchids grow like weeds and there are all kinds of lush tropical plants that gardeners in Melbourne can only dream of raising in a greenhouse.

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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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