Friday, March 20, 2015

Further Adventures in Singapore

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!


e said...

Wow...That's a lot of Singapore slings...Those tower blocks are amazing...

Ms. Moon said...

You are leaving me breathless here! Such color and beauty!
Big news in Lloyd is that yes, Papa Jay's is opening tomorrow.
I can barely stand THAT excitement.

ellen abbott said...

I've never traveled anywhere except to Mexico. You certainly make me want to cross the pond.

Sharon said...

Another set of fantastic photos. Good job getting all those buildings in one shot! I totally forgot about Raffles being there. Scenes from old movies with names I can't remember popped into my head when you mentioned that. $48 dollars is a lot for two drinks but I certainly can't say that I haven't paid that before. Sometimes the price is worth it. I wondered about the heat too. You are very close to the equator so I would expect to be pretty darn hot.

Vivian said...

thank you, i love the pictures and the post!
each time you vacation i get to go for free ha ha!!
happy spring!

37paddington said...

When I was in my twenties and going out to clubs with friends, a Singapore sling was my drink. Frankly, it was the only drink I knew the name of. You bring back memories. Great photos!

alphabet soup said...

A colourful look at Singapore; the apartment blocks are lifted out of the mundane by the use of colour and the people in shorts and tank tops are those who either can't read or didn't buy a guide book or maybe they are those people to whom rules do not apply.

Ms Soup