I am coming to you from the world-famous Raffles Hotel, a relic of the old British empire. It is virtually required of all Singapore visitors that they come to Raffles for a Singapore Sling, the cocktail allegedly created here. I have ordered mine but it hasn't arrived yet. I'm soaking in the ambience while I wait: the dark wood, slow ceiling fans, peanut shells on the floor and hordes of tourists.
On the advice of my library-procured guidebook ("dress standards apply, so no shorts and sandals please!") I wore long pants and a nice collared shirt. There are people in here in shorts and tank tops. Just sayin'.
Today has been another long day of walking. The goal was Little India (top), another fascinating neighborhood! But first I walked along Orchard Road, Singapore's equivalent of Rodeo Drive, to check out the scene:
Needless to say, I didn't buy anything.
Little India was incredibly colorful and reminded me so much, unsurprisingly, of India. The bright colors, the smells, the temples and sari-clad pedestrians.
The older architecture was beautiful.
I bought a bracelet of brown glass prayer beads from a toothless old man selling miscellaneous stuff on the sidewalk. He tried to charge me 25 Singapore dollars, and I paid 15 ($11), which is still insane -- but he looked like he could use the money. He launched into a rambling story about learning the guitar, and how we never stop learning no matter how old we get. I agreed!
From there I walked back into the center of town via a huge housing complex called Rochor Centre. My challenge here was to photograph all four of the massive towers, each painted a different color, in the same frame. Without a wide-angle lens it was darn near impossible, but I managed!
This was another heavily Chinese part of town. I really felt like I was back in China. I wandered through a huge open-air market where I had lunch:
This is "Taiwan Eight Treasure Grass Jelly Beancurd," according to the menu. Again, I am a bit unsure what it entailed. The "jelly" was two kinds of tea-flavored (I think?) gelatin, and there were two kinds of beans, pumpkin and peanuts on top. The beancurd was sweet and, again, jelly-like. I was skeptical but it was really good, and since it's served cold, it was very refreshing on a hot day.
Afterward I enjoyed the craziness of the crowded market. Is there a Chinese religious holiday of some sort right now? The doorway of the temple was packed with people holding incense and flowers and looking skyward as they chanted, or recited, or prayed. I didn't take pictures (there was a "no photography" sign) but I did photograph the old women selling flowers and incense nearby.
After that, back to the hotel for a much-needed shower and rehydration. It is very warm here, though not blistering hot. I'd say maybe in the high 80s? Even though I've been drinking the tap water (which seems fine), and thus am not dependent on the availability of bottled, it's been hard to stay hydrated with all my walking.
My Singapore Sling has arrived! It's a pink gin-and-fruit concoction with a wedge of pineapple and a maraschino cherry perched on the rim. I was prepared to hate it, frankly -- not being a huge fan of sweet drinks -- but it's not half bad! Raffles, alas, does not offer WiFi to non-guests of the hotel. So I will have to wait until I get back to my own roost to post this.
Addendum: I wound up having two Singapore Slings, for the astonishing price of 66 Singapore dollars, or $48 U.S.! That's OK. I was prepared for it to be expensive. And the entire time I was there, that cash register never stopped churning out receipts. Whoever owns Raffles is raking it in!