Oh dear, how sad we’re leaving. the drizzle and mist of Belthorn for 10 weeks.
Don’t you just love Heathrow. One of the top airports in the World – allegedly – the UK’s top airport and terminal 5 is their latest flagship terminal; complete with 10 minute walk, not that I mind walking but there are people less able, with not a travellator anywhere; then the ultimate shame for the UK, you have to catch a bus to terminal 3; no monorail; no underground train; a 12 minute journey with the delightful whiff of spent diesel fumes – joy.
2 hours into our journey and only 2 arguments – not bad going, even Victor would be proud. At Heathrow we follow the sign to take laptop out, but being consistent with Manchester and all other American airports I leave Wendy’s iPad in – note Wendy’s not mine. Then get my bag turned upside down, inside out and sniffed for explosives – Manchester were happy with it. Bear in mind we’ve been airside all the time. This all takes 15 minutes as there’s a queue for the sniffer geezer. Mind you two of his colleagues are, as you would expect, keeping a watching eye out for suspicious activities, well they will be when they’ve finished discussing their recent holidays – should have stuck around as I’m sure the lurid details of their sex lives would have been next. Then sniffer geezer uses the term “you people”. Well that goes down really well. Complain to supervisor.
When will we get airport security that is consistent, has a smidgen of common sense and most important of all uses profiling .
Second discussion is with BA who are still powerless to organise isle seats for Wendy on the Singapore to Sydney flight – there I go again having this delusion that I’m a customer.
Great flight to Singapore with 4 seats to ourselves so we get to spread out and catch some sleep. All this way and we arrive on time – lesson for our trains there.
Singapore airport is superb, spotless, modern and no queue at immigration. Time for the American immigration officials to pay a visit – no repeated scan of all fingers yet again, no stamp, stamp, stamp and no staples. The place looks spotless.
Our Hotel is the The Residence at The Singapore Recreation club very swish. Full gym and great pool. Rooms very well kitted out with a lovely balcony overlooking rugby fields and the Singapore sky line. It’s like a old gentlemens club but with up to date facilities. I just love the 2 notice boards that list members who are DEFAULTERS and IN ARREARS – the shame of it.
We venture out for some lunch or dinner or whatever it is. Find a great food plaza and try some Japanese. Wendy nearly starves to death as they only have chop sticks, but she eventually gives up and uses the giant pottery soup spoon.
Then pop into a supermarket for some water and milk. Amazing isn’t it, in Britain they stack sweets up near the checkout to tempt kiddies. Here they stack up different condoms! Cigarettes packets are horrifying. Not just a government health warning. Oh no. Each pack has horrific colour pictures of the various illnesses caused by smoking – gruesome.
Well today we get to go on the “topless bus tour”. Wendy says she’s having none of it but I’m quite looking forward to it. Tad disappointed for topless read “open top” – I can feel a trades description claim coming on.
Do two bus tours and the river tour. Great way to get an overview of the city. Very impressive. By 15:00 we’ve had enough and head back to relax and have a swim in their fabulous indoor, subterranean, swimming pool.
In the evening we venture onto the MRT (subway) to China town. Wander around all the food stalls and finally settle on a restaurant. I have to try the famous Singapore Chilli Crab. Comes with the main body crab meat in a chilli sauce but you also get the claws as well. All very nice but it does push your chop stick skills trying to tease out crabmeat from the claws. Adventurous I may be but I pass on Bull Frog, Jelly Fish and Boneless Chickens feet. I often wondered what happened to all the chickens feet when you bought a chicken in the UK. Well now I know. I wonder whether they take the bones out to reduce shipping weight?
During my swim I came upon the idea for two business opportunity. Export chest hair rugs to all these chest follicly challenged baldy Orientals and secondly create a Boneless Turkey Feet dish then we could export them as well.
They’re such an enterprising, friendly and helpful people. No wonder the place seems to prosper, todays headline reads “Ministry of Education to improve spoken English in primary schools. Unlike the bloody Welsh who seem to think it’s agreat idea to ram the Welsh language down childrens throats – that’ll prepare Welsh kids for a place in the 21st century world market place.
The network of underground stalls, shops, shops, shops, more shops, retaurants, eateries, cafes, food stalls and MRT stations is amazing. It’s a wonder all the locals are not stony broke; waddling around like a duck like Billy Bunter; suffering from rickets through lack of sunlight. Not that there isn’t plent of sun but it’s just so hot and very humid that you really don’t want to be walking. Given time, I think they’ll all become the equivalent of HG Wells’ Morlocks. With the exception that they all have smart phones permanently in their hands like some intrepid explorer and of course ear plugs in.
After a leisurely breakfast we pick up the free bus out to Sentosa. Pleasure island complete with beaches, bars, rides, Universal Studios and more ways to extract the last cent out of you than there are chop sticks in Singapore.
Have a pleasant walk around and decide on a gourmet meal at MacDonalds – at least there’s no chop sticks nor Chinese food.
Bus back to Suntec where we pick up the Red Bus tour and call off at Little India, dirty and seedy not a bit like the rest of Singapore. Visit the Hindu Temple for a bit of coconut throwing and watch some bananas and coconuts being taken for a walk around. All very strange; very gruesome statues; dark and dingy; dirty; another religion to be avoided.
Then we hope back on the bus to Raffles. Nothing dark and dingy here. It’s a toss up between tiffin or a Singapore Sling in the long bar. Certainly a hotel from another era. The Long Bar wins – free peanuts, chuck the shells on the floor. Meanwhile Original Singapore Sling for me and Tropical Sling for Wendy is a quick way of frittering away the kids inheritance – about £33 for two – and to top it all Wendy doesn’t like hers, mines great. Both have enough alcohol in them to top the Government weekly units limit. A real experience with the atmosphere of our colonial past. A tad disappointed though to find that the ceiling fans – see picture – are operated by a motor and not a Punkah Wallah – standards are obviously slipping.
Then it’s a 50 yard walk, almost stagger, back to our hotel – very convenient.
After a brief pause at our hotel we venture out for an evening meal in the underground Mall just across the road. More Asian cuisine, but I get to try the famous Laksa Chicken Noodle, a very hot Thai curry. Does some serious damage to taste buds, gets the sweat and endorphins flowing. One of the best curries I’ve had but another mission impossible trying to eat noodles with chop sticks.
Another leisurely breakfast and get packed ready for our overnight flight to Sydney and then onto Cairns. Decide to catch the MRT. All very fast and efficient and only S$2 each.
Well what do we like about Singapore:
Very clean; vibrant; no graffiti; no litter; no chewing gum; no scrots; modern; colourful city and roads with plants and flowers everywhere; very friendly; cosmopolitan; great hotel in an ideal location; fast and efficient MRT system; good choice of places to eat although mostly Asian; eating out seemed cheap; no traffic jams; didn’t seem overly expensive for a major city.
What do we dislike:
MRT ticket machines are a disaster; hot you expect and can cope with but the humidity is debilitating; expensive wine. Not much to dislike really.