Image Copyright Kent, 2011 Used under license from Shutterstock.com; Image Copyright Jason Ho, 2011 Used under license from Shutterstock.com; Image Copyright Pavol Kmeto, 2011 Used under license from Shutterstock.com
My business trip continues and I’ve flown from Shanghai to Singapore. I’m exhausted but thinking of the Airmiles! I’ve had meetings for the past couple of days but I’ve now got two days to myself before I fly home and I’m going to try and pack in all of Singapore’s must- see sights - but there is a lot on the agenda…
Between an ex-pat’s friend’s recommendation and wanting to go back to places which I went to back in 2005, I’m going to have to plan this like a military operation.
Operation Singapore Day 1 - 10.00hrs:
I start my mission with a walk down Boat Quay. At night the street is lined with bars and restaurants – a real mix of venues from British pubs to seafood eateries where you can choose your dinner before its demise. I swear the seafood is enormous – some of the crabs are the size of my head (and with my ego, that’s saying something…)
Also on the list is a visit to Chinatown, I squeeze in a quick lunch at Maxwell Road Food Centre where locals chow down on street foods (more about that in my next blog) and I order something and it tastes delicious, considering I have no idea what I’m eating!
To help my food digest I walk around the Temple Pagoda and Mosque streets but since I have very little time, and I did the temple thing the last time I was here, I just browse the stores selling every imaginable trinket possible.
That is one thing the city is amazing for – shopping. I’m still getting my head around the number of luxury malls there are in such a small mileage. The abundance of Gucci stores is mind-blowing. There are malls on Suntec, Orchard Road, Raffles City - it’s a shopper’s heaven – though it is hell for me as I’ve already maxed out my baggage allowance in Shanghai, so I haven’t got any room for beautiful, shiny, new designer goods. Grrrr!
I hop a taxi back to my hotel to freshen up for dinner and in the back of the cab I notice how much the city has changed since the last time I visited, new bars, hotels, restaurants – it’s so cosmopolitan and there is so many new sites to see, yet I’ve not even got enough time to visit the old heritage sites like Chjimes or the famous Black & White houses. I wish I was staying for longer.
I’m staying at the Fullerton Bay Hotel built across from the old pier's site and the water, this brand new boutique hotel is the contemporary cool little sister to the Fullerton's classic Grande Dame. It’s very modern and very chic.
I’m meeting my ex-pat friend Louis for dinner and I’ve requested we meet at the legendary Raffles Hotel – the epitome of colonial luxury. A meal at the Grill will set us back a small fortune but isn’t that why credit cards were invented?
Once we’ve stuffed ourselves on gourmet cuisine we sneak up to the Long Bar for a legendary Singapore Sling. The bar itself is like a movie set – a real cliché of peanut shells on the floor and a paddle fan ceiling system. I love it, though I’m not too impressed with the pink drink I specifically came to sample. It’s too sweet for my palette - I think I’ll stick to a gin and tonic next time!
Operation Singapore Day 2 - 13.00hrs:
I’m not sure military operations are usually run on hangovers but unfortunately I got over-excited with Louis last night and we ended up going to a place called The Clinic, a hilarious bar in the heart of Clarke Quay - identified by its hospital whites, colourful pills and all manner of things clinical in a tribute to tongue-in-cheek pop artist Damian Hirst. The chairs are gold wheelchairs – which only enhances the fun theme. Though I will say, you certainly leave this hospital feeling worse than when you are admitted!
Anyway, back to the military operation...
I head out to the Botanic Gardens and wander through the swaths of virgin rainforest and then take in the National Orchid Garden's beautiful collection of 1,000 orchid species and 2,000 hybrids. Once I’ve florally exhausted myself, I drop into the food court near Tanglin Gate for some local cuisine.
I then make my way over to the Singapore Flyer, Singapore's answer to the London Eye. It’s quite expensive for a 30-minute ride and seems to be in the middle of nowhere but this works to my advantage as I don’t have to wait in line. I wish I had come here at dusk to take a ride as I am told when entire row of downtown skyscrapers is softly lit it is a real spectacle.
Back to base for another night of culinary indulgence, I head to the top floor restaurant - I can't wait for my next gastronomic adventure! The dining room has an amazing 360˚ view and looking out to the skyline, it's quite clear Singapore has upped the stakes in terms of architecture and dining. Perhaps I should miss my flight and stay here long enough to try out all these amazing new restaurants…
For a goodbye drink I head to the rooftop deck Lantern bar, with its own eternity pool and oriental-inspired tents and swish cabanas. It's exceedingly snazzy and I love the ambiance but I manage to behave myself and head back down to my room to bed as I have an early flight to catch tomorrow.
I fall into bed and feel quite annoyed with myself that I never made it to the crazy new Marina Sands Sky Park across the water, simply because the queue went around the block and I had run out of patience due to my hangover. But I have decided it gives me the perfect excuse to come back soon – Miss H reporting for Operation Sky Park, sir...