Monday, April 7, 2008

Touring Singapore

If you’re wondering what happened to the last half of March (and its attendant fruit of the month), I’ll tell you: we were, as Singaporeans put it, “so blur.” We had work, we had travel, we had houseguests. And somehow, before we knew it, it was April.

But I do remember that we spent our last week of March trying to convey to our guests, in just a short time, what Singapore was all about. Singapore has a reputation of being a quick, easy place to visit; most people think they’ll be done in a day or two. Our guests had even scheduled a couple of days in Bali in the middle of their fairly short trip (not that we blame them; who would not want to go to Bali?). But they still wanted to see all Singapore had to offer. So we tried...

We ate a modern, multicultural breakfast at the lush Shangri-La Hotel. We pounded the pavement at Orchard Road and pretended we could afford the merchandise. We ate Thai food at our favorite place (of course).

We packed our guests off to wander in Chinatown and Arab Street, and they returned with handfuls of costume jewelry and stomachs full of dim sum and kebabs. We dropped by the Malay wet market to choose from the endless fruit stalls. We ate a quick sunset dinner of hawker food (fried bananas, noodles, nasi lemak, satay, sugar cane juice). And after dark, we watched the yipping river otters, pouncing fishing cats, and a flying squirrel the size of a housecat frolicking in the dim light of the Night Safari.

Our guests collected sea glass at East Coast Park and got horribly sunburned (it is the equator, after all). With Joey they ate roti prata and laksa by the harbor, dropped by the American club, and dined at a gorgeous place designed to look like a Peranakan nonya’s living room.

We toured the botanical gardens one morning, timing our visit so we could see the stunning orchids, walk through the mist-filled room filled with pitcher plants, and be sitting in the shade sucking down ice-cold lime juice just as the mid-day heat set in.

Then our guests were off to Bali. When they returned, they told us their tales of watching temple dances and the rice harvest (and being climbed on by mischievous macaques), as we eased them back into big-city life at one of Singapore’s colorful riverfront quays.

Their last day, we wandered through the huge British Colonial buildings, the Asian Civilizations Museum, and the legendary Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar, where the Singapore Sling was invented. We did the tourist thing, drinking the pink stuff with fish and chips and throwing our peanut shells on the floor. And then we headed off to a most unusual spa on Sentosa - but that deserves its own post.

A whirlwind tour, and still there were things we missed: Little India, the Chinese and Japanese gardens, the fishing village on Pulau Ubin, and the rainforest, just to name a few. Who knew such a tiny island would have so many things to see?


Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't know that we missed so many places. Shall baba and me visit you and Joey again? Thank you so much for showing them around.


Anonymous said...

A two-week visit is required - at least!

Cheryl said...

You did well! I'm proud of how far you've come from being newbies yourselves to expert tour guides today.