Singapore and Home

Thursday 17 September 2015

The Stamford Swissotel is ideally positioned above the considerable Raffles City Shopping Centre, which is fabulous for both eating and shopping – two things that Singapore does best.

In Italy we had lots of pizza, pasta and risotto. In Singapore, it’s time for soups, noodles and rice.  For breakfast we head down to the basement food court and start the day with a Vietnamese Sliced Beef Pho.

H is not feeling well so while he heads back to the room to rest I hit the shops.  Two pairs of shoes, a few tops, shorts and dresses later I call it quits as I’m not going to get anything more in our luggage home.

That night we dine at our favourite Din Tai Fung and then head outside for the first time all day to check out the preparations for the Singapore Grand Prix which is set to start tomorrow.  The final touches are being put in place – barriers are up, merchandise stalls are stocked, entrance gates are installed.  But tonight we are free to wander the enclosures and imagine what tomorrow will bring.

Singapore Grand Prix – Gate 3

The Merchandise

The Rules

The Track

Alas for us tomorrow brings the end of our trip and another long flight home.

Once home we are check the house for damage and find the pool a merky green.  There is a pair of men’s undies stuck in the filter box. What on earth has been happening while we have been away?  Actually, on second thoughts, ignorance is bliss – I don’t want to know!

That does not look right!

 

Milan – Dubai – Singapore

Tuesday 15 – Wednesday 16 September 2015

Have you ever noticed that the feeling of dread you have when faced with mammoth flight.   Something like … Milan to Dubai 6 hours, 5 hour layover, Dubai to Singapore 7 hours 15 minutes plus travelling to and from the airport, checking process and waiting at both ends.  Then add the fact that you are going home after a wonderful holiday.  Its enough to bring you to tears!

I have two brilliant strategies to counteract the suicidal feeling.  Firstly, fly business class and secondly have a two night layover in Singapore.

Emirates business class is the way to go!  The complementary limo picks us up precisely on time and delivers us efficiently at the Malpensa airport.  We check in and then are delighted to discover that the La Scala Theatre company is rehearsing at the airport – something to do with the Milan World Expo.

Before the flight we get to relax in the Emirates lounge and enjoy the facilities and a couple of glasses of Champagne before boarding the long flight to Singapore.

It almost makes flying bearable!

With the 2 flights and the 5 hour layover in Dubai we loose an entire day and arrive in Singapore at 3:00pm the following day.  Customs processing is smooth and the Emirates limo takes us to The Stamford Swissotel at City Hall, where we have stayed on our last visit to the city state.

Our room at The Stamford Swissotel

As we have both managed to get some sleep on the flight and are not too shattered, but in desperate need to stretch our legs we decide to brave the Singapore steam and walk down to Chinatown for a beer and visit the TinTin shop as we always do.  As always in Singapore I am fascinated by the juxtaposition of narrow alleys with traditional two storey shop fronts, antique air-conditioners poking out from every available space, huddled under sleek architectural designed towers.

Back allies and skyscrapers

Then it’s time for the famous Singapore Chili Crab – this time we are trying Jumbo on the Riverwalk at Clark Quay.  They don’t have a table for two, so we are ushered to a large room at the back of the restaurant where there are two large tables set up.  We have the room to ourselves, but it does not stay this way for long.  Two by two all the seats are taken by fellow diners – some tourists, some local.

Prepping for a feast of crab

The Chili Crab is fabulous, but we are now flagging fast.  So it’s back to the hotel to crash for the night.

Arab Town

Sunday 13 September 2014

Umm Sunday is Singapore …. what to do.  I know lets partake of the two Singapore favourite pastimes.  Shopping and eating!

So at a respectfully late hour (Singaporeans don’t do early morning) we head down to the Raffles Shopping Centre for a repeat performance at Nam Nam for breakfast.  The soup is soooo yummy!

I’m keen to stock up on my work clothes so we hit the shops again.  We hit pay dirt in one shop where two lovely little ladies pass me one outfit after another determined to get me into every dress in their section.  We hit a few more shops, drop my collection of shopping bags upstairs and then head outside.  Its mid afternoon and things are pretty quiet on the streets.  We head straight down North Bridge Road about a 1 km or so, to Arab Town.

Arab town is a step back in time, the pedestrian laneways are a small and charming.  The buildings are over 100 years old and there are many little shops selling fancy wares, beautiful fabrics, carpets and other Arabian wares.  We do a circuit of the streets and admiring the mosque and then head to the street full of middle eastern restaurants.  The tables spill out into the street and they are full of people smoking water pipes (no hash in Singapore).

Arab Town 1

Arab Town 1

Arab Town 2

Arab Town 2

Mosque

Mosque

Arab Street Eateries

Arab Street Eateries

We select a restaurant and after being ignored for 10 minutes move to another restaurant where we are also ignored.  Eventually one of the waiters decides to acknowledge us, only to tell us we can’t sit at the table that we were shown to and we have to move.  Ummm hospitality = zero.

After we obligingly move and quickly get an order for drinks and food before we disappear from their line of sight.  Drinks eventually appear and food quite some time after that.  The food is fine but by that stage all we wanted to do was get the hell out of there.

We walk back towards the hotel and stop at a bar for a few drinks at Luke Mangan’s “Salt Tapas”.

Tomorrow a new destination for us – Manila, Philippines.

 

Singapore Traditions

Saturday 12 September 2014

When in Singapore there are three traditions that we always follow – eat Chilli Crab somewhere, go to the Holiday Inn Atrium for a pedicure-manicure and check H’s favourite HiFi shop and go to China Town and invest in a TinTin figurine.  Sounds like a perfect itinerary for a Saturday.

But first breakfast, at about 10 we head down to Nam Nam in the food court for a Sliced Beef Pho, Lemongrass Pork Banh and a Vietnamese Iced Coffee with condensed milk for H. Very good indeed. Nom nom nom for Nam Nam.  Then a quick look at the rest of the shopping center before hitting the streets for a long walk over to the Singapore Flyer.

Rather than just hits the streets I navigate towards Singapore River and the old historic British Colonial buildings including  Parliament House, Raffles landing site, Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall and the oldest bridge in Singapore.

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall

We continue down the river toward the Singapore Flyer – it is a sweltering hot day and the sun is beating down – my hope to catch a river breeze is short lived – no such luck.

Marina Sands and ArtScience Museum

Marina Sands and ArtScience Museum

Helping the locals

Helping the locals

The Singapore Grand Prix is on next week and the city is in full preparation for the race.  Streets are blocked off and huge spectator stands have been erected for the attendees lucky enough to get a ticket.  I’m told the races are at night as it too hot for the drivers and spectators during the day.

Grand Prix race track and stands

Grand Prix race track and stands

Because of the race preparations we have an obstacle course of barricades and overheads and underpasses to weave around.

Eventually, hot and bothered, we arrive at the Singapore Flyer.  At the base is a small food hawker centre set up like an traditional market – very cute.

Singapore Flyer food hawker stall

Singapore Flyer food hawker stall

The concierge at the hotel has recommended and booked us into Seafood Paradise which he has assured us has the best Chili Crab in Singapore.  As we enter the vast restaurant which is richly furnished we are surprised to find it empty.  Why did the concierge insist that we book – weird.  We are lead to a table for 6 by the window right next to the wait station so that the wait staff are constantly hovering behind our backs.  Seriously? Thats the table they give us?

The crab lady (who was in a crabby mood) serving us points out all the live seafood in tanks by the kitchen.  The selection is tempting – but we cannot divert from our mission – Chili Crab is ordered as well as Prawns in Salted Egg, Baby Kai Lan with garlic sauce.  She also assures as that we have to order buns to go with the Chili Crab (its traditional!).

Chili Crab is messy business

Chili Crab is messy business

Prawns and Kai Lan

Prawns and Kai Lan

What can I say – the concierge lied – its not the best Chili Crab in Singapore.  It was good but not outstanding.  Crab lady picked a nice fat female crab full of roe (cost a fortune) and she kept coming to the table (she only had to walk 3 feet) and heaping the roe into our bowls.  Problem is H doesn’t like roe (I’m not that keen either), so he kept heaping it into my bowl.  Luckily there was plenty of spicy sauce!

Stuffed to the gills we pay up and head back out into the humidity to grab a taxi to take us across town to The Holiday Inn Atrium on Havelock Road for our pedicure and manicures.  The place we usually visit has closed but we quickly find a shop open.  H only gets a manicure cause he has to go to the record shop (the real reason for our visit) while a get the full treatment.

Ready for pampering

Ready for pampering

A couple of hours later wearing my new glittery thongs (can’t put my flats back on until the polish is dry) we head toward Chinatown to visit the TinTin shop and then grab a beer or two.

China Town

China Town

TinTin and Snowy

TinTin and Snowy

Its now getting dark and things are cooling down so we opt to talk back to the hotel and admire the amazing Singapore architecture.

IMG_0349

Electronics Shopping Centre

Electronics Shopping Centre

Not being able to face another big meal at 9:00 we go to the food court in the shopping centre with the locals for a light snack/dinner – Hianese Chicken and Rice (yummmmm), dumpling soup and green onion pancakes.

Quick departures

Friday 12 September 2014

Adios Seminyak – we won’t be back.

By 10:00 we are packed and waiting at reception for our transfer to the airport.  We squeeze into the hotel van with another couple with a little girl who coughs and splutters up germs for most of the trip.  It’s a slow, uncomfortable trip.

Check-in, paying the exit tax and immigration is a breeze. Seriously I think its about the quickest we have ever experienced and a vast improvement over previous trips to Bali.  Love the efficiency of the new airport but now its just like any international airport – big, bland and overpriced.

Our Indonesian Air Asia flight is delayed by 1 hour and 15 minutes. The flight is blissfully quick and bippty, boppity, boom we are in Singapore in a taxi heading toward our hotel – Swisshotel The Stamford.  Our room is 6364 – yes we are on the 63rd floor.  God I hope there isn’t a fire!

The hotel is actually a part of the Raffles Shopping Centre and we are very happy to discover there is a Din Tai Fung in the food court area.  YES!  We quickly freshen up and head back down stairs and go directly to the restaurant and straight to a table.  We order pork and shrimp dumplings, stuffed green chillies, noodles with mushrooms and pork sauce, deep fried prawn dumplings, stir fried dou miau (green vegi) with garlic.  On my goodness – its all amazingly good.

Sated we head to the shops for some window shopping – the shops are open every night until 10:00 pm.

It’s great to be back in civilization again.

Homeway bound – Singapore stop over

Thursday 10 October 2013

We wake up refreshed and hit the buffet breakfast in the Rex Hotel – devine.  This is my last change to dine on the delectable treats of Vietnam.  After we are gorged ourselves we head out into the steamy day to walk off a few calories.  A bit of window shopping, dodging hawkers and dancing in the traffic we have to grab our cases from the hotel and taxi back to the airport for the quick flight to Singapore where we are staying one night before flying back to Brisbane on Friday.

I manage to buy a couple of bargain shoes at the airport – tick – that completes my shopping list.  When we get into Singapore it is late afternoon and a huge storm hits as we are in the taxi to the hotel.  We are still seeking a hotel in Singapore that we want to return too. Alas we have not found it yet!

This is a particularly strange hotel in a weird backstreet near Clarke Quay.  The room is a strange L configuration but its clean and comfortable and only for 1 night.  We settle, chill for a bit (waiting for the rain to stop), then head out in a taxi to Little India.

Wow … talk about electric wonderland.  I don’t know if its for a festival or its like this all the time but the place is lit up like christmas.

Events - 2347

 

Little India

Little India

We wander around uselessly hoping to come across a fabulous looking restaurant but ti now avail, we have no clue.  We find a restaurant (Indian of course), grab a table and end up have a cracker of a meal.

Alas, back to Brisbane tomorrow, back to reality, back to housework, back to cooking, back to work!  Boo Hoo!

 

 

 

Singapore layover

Sunday 16 June 2013

As I wake up I have one of those moments where I have no idea where I am – what country? what area? what hotel?  It slowly filters through the brain … Singapore … Chinatown … Scarlet Hotel.
Scarlet Hotel – great location in Chinatown, great decor, tiny, tiny rooms.
Unfortunately its another day of travelling today … our last day.
We have a wander around Chinatown have a few beers and dinner in a local restaurant and then back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.
Chicken & Rice ... breakfast, lunch or dinner

Chicken & Rice … breakfast

After breakfast of chicken and rice (I’m seriously into this chicken and rice … breakfast, lunch or dinner) we depart back to Singapore Airport.  By 10:30 tonight we will be back safe and sound in our bed at home.  Tomorrow back to work for me!
NOOOOOOOO!

Paris – Dubai – Singapore

Friday 14 June 2013

Today is all about being on the move:
  • Checkout
  • Fill up the tank (more complicated than it sounds)
  • Drop off hire car (much complicated than it sounds)
  • Get tax refund docs stamped
  • Check in for flights
  • Wait for 2 hours
  • Fly to Dubai (6 1/2 hours)
  • Transit (3 hours)
  • Fly to Singapore (9 hours)
  • Collect bags
  • Taxi to Scarlet Hotel
  • Check in
We start check out at 12 noon of Friday and check in at 4:30 on Saturday afternoon.
Shattered! Seriously!
A steal at 29,000 euro and thats duty free!

A steal at 29,000 euro and thats duty free!

Gardens by the Bay

Saturday 25 May 2013

We ask the concierge for suggestion for breakfast and end up at Tiong Bahru Markets.  Upstairs are hundreds of hawkers stall selling anything and everything to eat.  H has a carrot cake (eggs, rice cake and carrot?) fried up like a omelette and fresh pineapple juice (S$4.50), I have chicken and rice (we are in Singapore after all) and an apple, beetroot and carrot juice ($5.50).  It is obviously a locals only place, the food is good and cheap and we recommend you give this place a go.

We then head off to visit the brand new Gardens by the Bay.  The taxi ride takes forever (roadworks) and the ride ends up costing way too much.  We take the little guided tour on a little buggy train through the gardens cause it’s bloody hot and humid.  After 30 mins they drop us off at Bay South Garden the two spectacular glass domes which are homes of the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome – S$28 per person.  We head into the Cloud Forest and as we cross the entrance we are greeted with an amazing 35 meter man-made mountain and waterfall.

Waterfall

Waterfall

Cloud Dome

Cloud Dome

It is like being transplanted from hot humid Singapore to a cool remote mountain range (except for all the people surrounding us). The hollow mountain is coated with cold climate, exotic plants – orchids, ferns, vines and all types of flowers. We spend 2 hours in the atrium marvelling at the ingenuity and beauty.

Orchids ...

Orchids …

Orchids ....

Orchids ….

and more Orchids ...

and more Orchids …

Primitive Sculpture

Primitive Sculpture

Crystal Cave

Crystal Cave

After a refreshing ice-cream treat, we move to the flower dome, which is also temperature controlled (i.e. cooled) and houses plants for every continent (except for Antarctica – as the brochure tells us).  There is a fabulous display of Australian plants, particularly the kangaroo paw which are the best I have even seen.  The desert plants are stunning as are the huge ancient olive trees in the Mediterranean section.  The flowers look like they were at their best a week or two ago.

Flower Dome

Flower Dome

African garden

African garden

Desert plants

Desert plants

Flowers of the World

Flowers of the World

The two domes are very impressive and I thoroughly recommend a visit.

Super Tree Grove

Super Tree Grove

Facing the heat and humidity again we walk to the super tree grove … man made “trees” of course and then through the Marina Bay Sands Hotel to the shopping centre.  Wow … this is a shopping centre on steroids.  You can catch a boat ride through the venice style canals, go to the casino (free for foreigners, S$100 for the locals), hit all the big name designer shops or dine at one of the dozens of restaurants.

Its snack time again so we head to Din Tai Fung, my favourite yum cha restaurant chain.  We order a small selection of dumplings which disappears very quickly and then some more, a few beers later we are sated and ready for a bit of pampering.

This morning we discovered a small retail centre attached to our hotel, there are heaps of reflexology, massage and beauty parlours, and most surprisingly a fancy old school hi-fi shop.  While Howie ponders the selection of vinyl, I settle in for a desperately needed manicure and pedicure.  After a while H finds me and organises a foot massage and pedicure for himself.

Before long H has everyone in the place laughing.  The little Japanese lady next to me is getting her toes painted with an elaborate bow tie design is giggling behind her hand, obviously amazed, if not slightly bewildered at Howard’s antics.

Alas, our time in Singapore is at an end as we are flying out tonight at 1:40 am.  We check out at 11:00 pm and head out to the airport for next leg – Singapore to Dubai 7 hours 10 mins, stopover 3 hours 40 minutes, Dubai to Copenhagen 6 hours 40 minutes … what joy!

A Dream Come True

Friday 24 May 2013

My dream has come true.  Upon disembarking in Singapore on Friday 24 May 2013, I WAS FIRST.  My bag was THE first to appear on the convey belt, this seemingly insignificant event sent me into raptures. I threw my arms around Howard and gushed “I have such a great feeling about this trip … it’s going to be perfect” I know I was setting high expectations, but ALL has been perfect so far.

FIRST!

FIRST!

It all started with a hellish day at the office, where I managed to complete most of my to do list, then raced home and started packing.  As our driver was not due to pick us up until 11:30 I had heaps of time.  I was determined to pack light, for once, and had whittled my selection down so I only had 3 pairs of shoes and a half full bag.  Then something happened that had never happened before … Howard went through my wardrobe and started picking out things for me to take out.  Crazy huh!
Chris and Ang turned up to look after the house (thanks guys) and before you know it Alan is at the door to take us to the airport.  It turns out that Howard is familiar with Alan the limo driver, he drove Howard home last week from his regular Friday lunch date with Dr Bill.
A hour later we are settled in the Emirates lounge sipping Veurve and killing time waiting for the dreaded 2:30 am departure.  The champagne soothes some of the pain of this ungodly time for a flight.  As does the last minute boarding into business class.
We manage to get a few hours of restless sleep and catch a couple of movies before we touch down in Singapore in the early morning.  Its a public holiday in Singapore so the roads are nearly empty and we are quickly settled into our hotel, Holiday Inn Atrium on Havelock Road.
Its hot and steamy in Singapore, overcast and drizzling. The familiar scents of Asia permeate our senses. But we need to move so we grab some hideously bright green “Holiday Inn” umbrellas and set off to China Town for some beer and noodles
Its a bit of a slog and the humidity requires that we move at a leisurely pace, but we eventually find ourselves in the backstreets of China Town.  It seems to be a common theme in Asia that there are move Indian hawkers touting their crap in China Town than there are Chinese.  We saw it in KL and now we see it here.
Ummm yummy

Ummm yummy

Chinatown

Chinatown

After visiting the Tin Tin Shop (yep Tin Tin in China Town) and adding to Howards collection, we select a bustling little restaurant called Tak Pu on Smith Street.  We quickly order a large Tiger beer to quench our thirst and nibble on on the freshly roasted peanuts as we ponder the menu.  We agree to skip the frog congee, chickens feet and tripe noodles and order Har Gao (prawn dumplings), deep fried pork dumplings and claypot beancurd .. all of which is fantastic and only S$23 – A$19.
Got to love it.
Around the corner is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.  Poor Buddha … we have been discovering parts of him all around the world.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Temple Decorations

Temple Decorations

Durian Ice-cream

Durian Ice-cream

Across the road is the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre, only half the stalls are open, but the place is packed.  The Singaporeans love to eat and they seem to do it all day.  We are tempted to eat again but stand firm and resolve to return tomorrow to sample the  fare.
Maxwell Road Hawker Centre

Maxwell Road Hawker Centre

Once were chickens

Once were chickens

Next stop is Merlion park for some touristy shots.  Some random Asian girl stops me and asks if she can have her photo taken with me.  Before I know it I’ve got two tiny girls (up to my shoulders … and I’m not tall) at my side and I’m recorded for prosperity.
Marina Sands Hotel and the Arts Centre

Marina Sands Hotel and the Arts Centre

Merlion Park

Merlion Park

Our feet are aching and we are parched, so we jump a taxi to Orchard Road in search of air-conditioning.  The traffic is unbelievable …. apparently EVERYONE in Singapore goes shopping on public holidays.  Escaping the crowds we find a row of restaurants/bars on a side street that are housed in these gorgeous old traditional shop/homes.  The Five Tapas Bar on Cuppage Terrace has Asahi on tap and we quickly down a couple of brews.
Restaurants - Cuppage Road

Restaurants – Cuppage Road

Greetings from Tin Tin

Greetings from Tin Tin

Back to the hotel we rest up before heading out for Chilli Crab – a Singaporean must have.  Howard has been asking everyone where is the best place for Chilli Crab … the consensus is East Coast Seafood restaurants.  Its a 20 minute taxi ride out of town towards the Airport to the collection of seafood restaurants.  We settle on the No Signboard Restaurant and place our order Chilli Crab, Prawn Noodles and a bottle of ridiculously overpriced white wine.
No Signboard Seafood

No Signboard Seafood

Enjoying the Night Air

Enjoying the Night Air

Singapore Chilli Crab

Singapore Chilli Crab

The noodles are a bit short on prawns but the chilli crab is fabulous!  We take our time extracting every single piece of the sweet, sweet flesh, moaning in delight and generally making a mess of ourselves and the table.
Day 1 a huge success!