Tuesday 25 April 2017
I wanted to make something of my last day in Singapore as I was flying to Japan that evening. I have been to Singapore a few times before and didn’t feel the need to do much sightseeing however one place I wanted to go to was the Marina Bay Sands (or MBS as it is locally known) as it wasn’t there last time I went. It opened in 2010 and the main hotel is comprised of three 55 storey towers topped by the Skypark, the world’s largest public cantilevered platform which overhangs the north tower by 67m. It has an observation deck with 360 degree views over the city (that the public can access – for a substantial fee) and a spectacular infinity pool (for hotel guests only).
I left with Maria in the morning as she had to go to work and then made my way to the Waterfront and spent a lovely morning wandering round the shops – apparently the largest collection of coveted designer boutiques in Asia. Window shopping only I’m afraid! I paid my Singapore $23 to go up to the Skypark Observation deck and enjoyed looking down onto SuperTree Grove and over the city under the moody sky that threatened rain at any second.
I was sad not to have time to visit SuperTree Grove, which is a series of gardens featuring giant trees made of reinforced concrete wrapped in a steel frame. Planting panels are attached to the trunk where over 162,900 plants are spread over the 18 ‘trees’. It was time I was making my way to lunch as I was due to be meeting Maria and her brother Mark. By the time I’d come down from the Observation deck it was raining so I hopped in a taxi, missing a call from Maria. I called her back and for some reason Mark couldn’t make it but as I was already on my way she and I still met and we had a nice lunch in an Indian restaurant, where I ate Chinese food!
Maria had to go back to work and I decided I would be a tourist after all as the weather had improved. I wanted to see the famous Merlion and, on the way, stopped off at the Fullerton Hotel where I learnt lots of history. Originally built on the site of the former Fullerton Fort the building was named after Robert Fullerton, the first Governor of the United Straits Settlements (1826-1830). When completed, in 1928, it was the largest structure ever built in Singapore. The General Post Office occupied the first two floors for many years however the building had many other uses, such as the headquarters of Japan’s military administration during the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945. It became a six-star hotel in 2001 with 400 luxury rooms and if the ladies was anything to go by, the rooms must be truly sumptuous.
After my history lesson I wandered over to the Merlion and tried to take some arty pictures with MBS in the background but I’m not sure I was that successful! It was now mid-afternoon and I was in need of some refreshment; I couldn’t come to Singapore and not have a Singapore Sling in the famous Raffles Hotel! It was a bit of a walk but I knew it would be worth it. The rain started to come down but luckily I had my trusty umbrella so that when I arrived I didn’t look too much like a drowned rat.
Once in the hotel I followed the signs to the bar. I had first visited Raffles back in ’96 and was wondering if it would be as I remembered, however the main bar was being refurbished and I was directed to the Bar and Billiard Room. On arrival there was a lectern with a sign to queue to be seated, but it was deserted. I stood there looking around and two men arrived and asked me if they could get a table. Haha. The waiter came out and showed me to a chair at the end of the bar and then showed them to the two chairs next to me. It turned out they were US pilots Bob and Drew (married and in their 50’s so don’t get any ideas!) and flying to Japan the next day! What a coincidence.
The bar was very oldy-worldy and colonial and I felt a bit like I was back in England, albeit a posh members club in London. I once had a lovely boss who was well to-do and one day we met in the RAC Club for a glass of wine and a discussion about Brexit and mortgages (he’s in his late 60’s so definitely don’t get any ideas)! Anyway, it felt a bit like that. The tradition in the Raffles bar is that you eat peanuts – the Americans were amused when I said we call them Monkey Nuts in the UK – and then throw the shells on the floor. It was quite strange walking on the floor crunching shells underfoot, I felt sorry for whoever has to clean up every day! I had such a lovely time, sitting there with my cocktail (at the bargain price of Singapore $36.50 = @£20!), having a good old chat with these guys as if I’d known them for ages. It got to 5pm and I reluctantly said my goodbyes. I didn’t want to go, but I was expected home as I had to leave for the airport in a couple of hours.
More goodbyes and then I was in a taxi back to the airport to fly to Japan. I was hoping there would be no delays because in the morning I would be seeing Australian James!! I could hardly believe it, he happened to be in Narita on the same day as me – see, fate isn’t always a bad thing.