Friday, October 24, 2008
We started late again today. We had no specific plans, and it was rainy earlier this morning. We learned our lesson yesterday about coffee and muffins in the Lobby, so we headed to Starbucks for breakfast and free internet access. Actually, the internet was the deciding factor since there are several restaurants serving breakfast in the hotel. Once again we trudged down Orchard Road, marveling at the number of people who were out and about. We saw magnified versions of this foot traffic in Japan, Shanghai, Bangkok and Saigon – people scurrying along crowded sidewalks, everybody going somewhere, but where? Singapore isn’t as bad as those other places, but the walkways are still bustling.
We walked past Mt. Elizabeth Hospital [or at least its driveway]; this is the hospital where Caiden was born, but we couldn’t find the commemorative plaque. On to the Paragon mall again. We know our way around too well now and still have one more morning to use the internet. D got coffee and a muffin and MA got passion fruit tea so we wouldn’t feel guilty about the wireless connection. We checked e-mail and D uploaded the newest addition to the blog. It’s become somewhat Dickensian in its length and MA reminded D that Dickens was paid by the word.
Today was Tourist Day. We took a taxi to Suntec City, an office and convention complex on the East side of the city. The Marriott concierge had called ahead to make reservations for our ride on the “Duck.” We have used every other type of transport on this trip, so this was only fitting. The Duck is an amphibious craft developed during WWII. By definition, then, it rides the streets and the waves. Our trip was scheduled for 1 o’clock, but we were early, naturally. Suntec Center had 2 huge food courts which were crammed with diners. At one end, there was a tremendous fixed-price buffet, and at the other, there was a collection of “stalls” which specialized in anything Asian. We were brave and didn’t try anything although what we knew as Chinese bread [from our lunch on Ko Samui] looked good.
The one-hour tour ended up as 45 minutes during which we drove and swam around a small part of Singapore and Marina Bay. The vehicle was noisy, the ride was bumpy and we could only catch every third word of the narration. All in all, it was not a great experience. Still, we had a good time.
When we returned to Suntec, we hailed a taxi for the two block journey to Raffles Hotel. We could have walked, but our first cabbie of the day urged us to ride because of traffic and dangerous intersections. It wasn’t as bad as he made it sound, but the ride wasn’t too expensive and we are on vacation…
Raffles is an institution in Singapore which dates back to colonial days, probably the late Nineteenth Century. Other than being posh with a capitol posh [rooms start at $600USD per night], its Long Bar is the acknowledged home of the Singapore Sling. It’s not tourist tacky, but it was filled nonetheless with tourists. It probably hasn’t changed in almost a century. Dark wood. Ceiling fans. Free peanuts. Throwing the shells on the floor. All of these date back to the primordial mists. When in Singapore, act like a tourist, so MA had a Sling while D had his usual Diet Coke. We also ordered French fries and a satay sampler [four each beef, lamb and chicken skewers]. We sat and relaxed and soaked it all in. D took the requisite pictures and the videocam behaved, surprisingly. Once it was time to go, we caught a taxi at the Raffles Hotel taxi stand and returned to the Marriott to pack for tomorrow’s trip to Cambodia with the family. We talked with Jon who had called before we returned. He offered the use of his video camera but we decided to take our chances. We chatted for a few minutes and then let him go back to work.
Our last taxi driver suggested someplace called Lau Pasak for dinner if we wanted something local, not tourist, but we opted for Indian at Ras at Clarke Quay, the complex we visited last night. We were in the same general area again, so we could watch the light show and the boats even though we weren’t right by the water. Clarke Quay was jam-packed tonight. Most of the outdoor restaurant venues were pretty full as were many of their indoor areas. The sidewalks were almost impassable in spots, especially outside of the nightclubs. It is a happening place to put it mildly. After dinner, we came home and braced ourselves for tomorrow’s departure. We can hardly wait!