Raffles is well worth seeing – for all that Singapore does surface glitz, Raffles is different. I suspect the place is far cleaner than in Somerset Maugham’s day. The Long Bar was full, but perfectly recreated in dark woods. Discrete signs say that you are welcome to sweep your peanut shells onto the floor – it is a tradition, despite Singapore’s stringent littering laws. It is all about ambience. The quaintly Victorian nude painting hangs above the bar and the ceiling fans sway lazily to and fro on their complex mechanism – despite the icy air conditioning: it adds to the atmosphere.
I found a seat in the Raffles courtyard. The floor singer was accompanied by electric piano and bass. She is good, even if the selection of material is ’60s Cobana style befitting an early Bond movie – but somehow it fits the setting perfectly.
A Singapore sling at Raffles is not to be hurried, but rather, savoured with friends. At SN$19.00 it is not a drink for the slaking of a thirst among the palm trees and white Colonial splendour of the inner courtyard.
The Sling is like a pink fruit punch with a dryness on the palette that tells you that somewhere beneath the pink froth and fruit lies a gin or vodka heart. It is served with a slice of pineapple and a glace cherry – which complements the fruity liquid. I suspect that one could easily consume several without realising the inexorable effect it will have
on one’s knees when you attempt to stand. But price will limit most people to just one.
I paid with a fifty – but had to ask later for the change. Interesting. Raffles is still a residential hotel, but in keeping with the Singaporean trend of squeezing some extra enticement for the Western dollar, the upper floors along the balconies are lined with
shops. Not just any shops either – Tiffany – the real jeweller, exclusive ceramic boutiques, and Georg Jensen are all there, along with some exclusive galleries.
As the clock swept closer to 11.00pm I decided to call it a night and walked back to the hotel. As I passed through the Marina Plaza shopping centre I found that Singapore does close at night – the shopkeepers were just locking up for the night – it would have been a
long day for them. Meanwhile another breed of Sinagporean came to life – the riggers and maintenance workers – mainly Indians – were stringing up tomorrow’s banners and festoons of lights.
Time for a quiet coffee in the hotel before sleep and the 0800 departure for the airport to catch the 0930 flight home.
I had always thought that people with travel irons were over-packed until I went on a business trip and found that the hotel had only one for 40+ conference delegates – all of whom wanted to look presentable to their European colleagues. At that point I decided that for certain destinations I would pack an iron, and not be waiting until 0600am on the morning of the conference to get my turn with the iron.
Enter the dual-voltage Korjo travel iron. This is a compact iron with a near-full-size teflon coated plate. It has a folding handle which doubles as the reservoir for the water – yes it is a fully functional steam iron – ideal for those creased cotton shirts.
The handle clicks securely into its upright position without any play so it has a positive feel. The steam function has no separate button – if you fill it with water and have the high heat setting selected, then you will get steam. It takes only about a minute to warm up. Do stand it on a towel though – as the steam commences it will push out a little water first and you probably don’t want that on your white shirt.
The water lends weight to the iron, and it smooths the toughest creases like a bought one.
The cons: The rubber stopper at the end of the iron does not like to stay in place so there can be some water leakage from there if you are a bit rough with your technique. My second minor gripe is that the sole doesn’t taper as much as a full sized iron, so it can be difficult to get between the buttons.
Sum up – if you are a business traveller in Europe (where irons seem more scarce than elswhere) then this is an indispensible item to pack. It is light and compact and does the job very well.
I arrived in Singapore okay and the hotel is very comfortable. The arrival sign in the airport was just a little disconcerting!
Singapore is hot and humid and the air is heavy with hibiscus and bougainvillea. I decided to have a wander into the city – I’m am in the Raffles district – and one of the first things was to see to some food. I quickly found starbucks and subway and New York New York and Delifrance – but do you think I could find a simple noodle house?
Finally someone said there’s a food hall/market just one stop away on the MRT – the underground train – so I thought ‘can’t be too hard’ and found the system very like the ones in Europe … except once I went down the escalator to find the platform, it seemed like I was in a long corridor, with some funny markings at intervals along a big glass wall.
Next thing a train comes along right next to the glass wall and doors open up everywhere! It seems they stop people falling onto the tracks by building a glass wall along the very edge of the platform, and carefully stop the train so its doors line up perfectly with the ones in the glass wall.
Soon I found myself on the other side of a canal and quickly found the food hall. Then the search was on for a decent local feed of noodles. Not much around if you were a vegetarian – but at least the food was cheap and filling.
I have a great view from my balcony room on the 18th floor – about halfway up the hotel – and the hotel has the highest atrium in the southern hemisphere – I’d believe it too: the interior looking up just keeps going up and up.
Anyhow it seems I am largely destined to eat mainly western food as this is a major tourist area.
And to round off the seven days – I’m up to 77968 steps for the week.
Despite not sleeping much last night I managed six hours on the plane here so I’m not as wrecked as I thought I might be.
Well, not a lot of new stuff this week – although I shall soon be road-testing a new travel iron, given my experience in Europe with hotels and the lack of irons for their business clientelle. Anyhow – the great walking challenge is on, and with six days down I can say I am now hitting ten thousand steps a day. And here’s the proof!
The real trick is getting a sharp image on the old 2MP camera. The other thing I’ve done this wek is play quite a bit of fiddle, and I’ve recorded ‘Da Eye Wifey’ made famous by the band Shooglenifty. That said, I’ve only seen the music, and not heard them play it. But I have it on good authority that they play a kind of slow and sedate version, whereas mine probably owes more to Ashley McIsaac 🙂 Anyhow, it’s on the computer now, courtesy of Traktion software and a small Behringer mixing desk.
The name sounds like either a corruption of wifi – the wireless internet connection or something to do with someone’s wife giving them the ‘hairy eyeball’, but in fact seems to owe its name to an optician in Edinburgh, where Shooglenifty is based.
It all started a week ago, when Sharon started a challenge among her online friends to walk 10,000 steps a day to improve fitness. The challenge was to blog a photo once a week of the pedometer – thus making it a public challenge, and the results publicly visible. As someone with a desk job, it seemed a reasonable way to go, and surely not too arduous. And something that could be worked into one’s normal day, without having to travel to a gym or buy outlandish medieval torture devices. Just a discreet little pedometer. And so it began.
By day two I realised that a desk job usually involves walking about 4-5,000 steps – and it was quickly apparent that I would need to do more to get the requisite number of steps up. Moreover, by the end of day two I realised I would now need to exceed 10,000 steps a day in order to catch up my deficit. Then i remembered the time I put on my pedometer set to zero before playing a show, and after three hours had 40,000 steps done… Ah – a bit of fiddle practice should do the trick!
And it nearly did – after the first seven days, here is the result: