Friday, June 01, 2012

Sweltering in The Sultan!

Here we are in Singapore staying in a brand new hotel called The Sultan which is in fact an old building renovated. It's very fresh and clean but the bathroom is so tiny that two people can't fit in there at once and the air conditioning doesn't seem to work in that small area. The only mirror is beside the shower so when I attempt to put on makeup it just drips off me in the heat - delightful I know!

We had a fairly uneventful flight from Melbourne to Singapore. We were in one of those new A380s and it was smooth flight although they obviously haven't provided any extra leg room.

On one side of me sat Iris, unmarried and without children, who has been travelling alone for 50 years. What an interesting life she has had! Iris is a staunch Royalist and proudly showed me a photo which had been in the newspaper of her reaching out and touching Prince Charles hand with Lady Di beside him. She has travelled to so many interesting countries and had so many interesting stories to keep me entertained. Iris also explained to me that one night in her youth she went to bed as usual and when she woke up she had completely lost her hearing. After several tests the doctors announced that she had suffered from sudden onset deafness and she has never regained her hearing. Having said that Iris wears hearing aids in both ears and manages very well. We had a completely normal conversation and she could hear the babies crying on the plane. She really was an amazing lady and was so excited to be travelling to London again on the occasion of the Queen's 60th jubilee. She is away for two months and doesn't plan to leave London until she sees the Queen. After that she is visiting cousins in England and may pop over to Italy or elsewhere in Europe for a week or so. 

I did manage to watch two movies during the flight although I was a bit distracted by Iris who had been encouraged to try rum for the first time and was feeling very excited and naughty about such an event! I loved Warhorse which I missed seeing at the theatre. It moved me to tears however so it was good to have a giggle with Iris later.

I have a vivid memory of our last visit to Singapore in 1973. We were on our way to London for our overseas experience (OE) and had travelled by ship as far as Singapore. In the last few days on the boat a number of passengers including me managed to succumb to food poisoning and I also remember a very painful injection in my backside to prevent me throwing up! When I stepped from the boat onto the shore in Singapore I almost passed out from the intense heat and I also remember feeling totally ill from the strong smell of street foods as we did the touristy things. They were not good memories.

When Mr B and I stepped out of the Singapore airport late last night it all came back to me - the intense humidity was like walking into a steam room. Wow, it was hot and I was wearing too many clothes even though I was carrying my jacket and had already stripped down to a t-shirt and wore only lightweight long pants.

Today Mr B and I caught one of those hop on hop off open air double decker buses and had an explore. We walked along Arab Street in which every shop sells either rolls and rolls of Chinese silks and other gorgeous materials or carpets and mats. We also checked out Little India, China Town and Orchard Road. When we set out in the morning a lot of shops were closed but later everywhere was buzzing and alive with many interesting sights and smells. On the back of a cleaning contractor's truck was a large sign "AWOL and illegal dishwashers forbidden." It took a minute to realise that the dishwashers referred to were not the mechanical variety!

We have been enjoying some yummy Chinese food and also partook in the most delicious icecream creation from Coldstone Icecreamery which I think may be in parts of Oz. Watching it being created was half the fun. He flattened a blob of icecream on a board, chopped the apples etc, rolled it in a ball and tossed it in the air catching it in the paper cup. I chose apple pie, cinnamon and cookie crumble with a caramel sauce and served in a chocolate waffle cone. I definitely need to run!

In the evening we squeezed through the Bugis Street Markets and it definitely WAS a squeeze. Wall to wall people had the same idea and it was difficult to venture near the stalls but we managed and it was a fascinating place, When we came through to the open air it was still busy. The city certainly was buzzing at night and we were encouraged to come in and try the delicious smelling foods. We settled for a noodle place and enjoyed a tasty meal and the best iced honey and lemon tea - so refreshing on a hot night.
City of contrasts

Indian Temple inside

Indian temple roof



  1. Why do you need to fit two people into a bathroom at the same time? Hey, that Iris sounds like a good catch - did you get her phone number? I love travel!

  2. Ewen - Iris could not be a day less than 75, possibly older! You wouldn't get a word in edgewise either - sound familiar lol!! Mind you, providing you love the Queen, she would keep you amused!

    1. Bugger! I'm a good listener too!