The Honeymoon Travel Blog (abc)
ARRIVED IN SINGAPORE: "Singapore seems to be alive. Blink and another building goes up. More offices, more shops, more businesses, more hotels, more new bars… It's mind boggling."
After our three day Orient Express extravaganza we arrive in Singapore with a slight sway in our step - something akin to sea-legs.
We hop in a taxi from the station and before we know it we've arrived at the Fullerton hotel, one of Singapore's finest establishments. Built in 1928 and famous as the one-time Post Office with 100-metre long counter (now a swanky bar), the Fullerton is instantly recognisable thanks to its white stucco-fronted columns and wedding cake look.
I really like the slightly off keel colonial-meets-Asian atmosphere - white-clad bellboys and an original red pillar post box sit comfortably alongside a huge lobby pond where Koi carp swim for good Feng Shui.
We're welcomed at the door and whisked up to our suite. It's gorgeous - and ginormous! The stunning duplex suite in golden creamy colours is flooded with light from the floor to ceiling windows, overlooking the South China Sea and the crazy new Marina Bay Sands treble skyscrapers (complete with Titanic-look-alike structure neatly deposited atop the three buildings, about 60 floors up).
We have a beautiful mezzanine upstairs, with swanky bathroom (with that amazing harbour view), elegant furniture in golds, dark woods and Chinese prints, and even our own terrace wedged between the imposing façade's columns. If only we lived here. We could recline on the mocha velvet divan, invite lovely friends for a cosy dinner party and watch movies on the huge flat screen TV. This could be our dream apartment…
For now, we'll make the most of it for 48 hours while we also try to pack in all of Singapore's must do sights. There's a lot on the agenda. Between an expat friend's recommendations, and wanting to go back to the places we last saw in 2003, we might be a bit ambitious. ..
Nevertheless, we plan an action packed schedule, starting with a walk down Boat Quay, where at night the street is lined with bars and restaurants, from Penny Black's English pub to seafood eateries where you can see the creatures before they meet their demise - anything from grumpy looking eels (who probably knew they were edible), to giant crabs (the size of a small dog - seriously!), and other assorted sea/see-foods.
Also on the list is a visit to Chinatown. We decide to walk there from the hotel but take a wrong turn and end up amidst motorways and building sites, easily done in Singapore. It might seem small, but it's deceptively big when you're on foot - and building sites are a dime a dozen. We negotiate traffic, hop over barriers and jaywalk - not usually recommended in a country with strict rules and regulations, but we have little choice. I wouldn't usually mind jaywalking, but I seem to recall that even chewing gum is illegal here. Indeed, where else could you find brand new flat screen TVs in the street, sleek digital displays and a spotless metro system without a piece of litter or graffiti to be seen?
Eventually we find Chinatown, and walk around the Temple, Pagoda and Mosque streets. Since we did the temple thing last time we just browse the stalls selling everything from very intriguing looking food to jade trinkets, the eternal Chinese dresses, silk bags, paper fans and plastic good luck charm cats - a must have item we decide to invest in, choosing an 'eco-friendly' solar powered waving cat with a cheesy grin.
I really do love shopping, but I can't quite believe how many luxury malls and designer brands there are in such a small square mileage! The abundance of Gucci and Louis Vuitton stores is amazing. It seems that everywhere we look in Singapore, there's a mall - SunTec, Orchard Road, Raffles City…
It's torture for me! I suffer major shoe envy - those teeny, tiny sizes are no match for my size 9s - the eternal curse of the 6ft2 giant.
Singapore seems to be alive. Blink and another building goes up. More offices, more shops, more businesses, more hotels, more new bars… It's mind boggling. Nevermind visiting the old heritage sites, like Chjimes or the famous Black & White houses, there's barely enough time to see all that's brand spanking new!
We squeeze in a dinner at Lau Pa Sat, the authentic food hall where locals chow down on Vietnamese, Thai or Malaysian food, and order something that tastes pretty good considering we have no idea what it is.
On the other end of the scale, we also make it to legendary Raffles. It's compulsory in Singapore. The cream meringue-like building with its elegant high ceilings, beautiful beams, detailing and antique furnishings is opulent colonial luxury at its best.
To start off, we pop to the courtyard bar (which is really well hidden) with its intricate, white latticed balconies, and have a couple of drinks before dining at the gourmet Grill. Spoilt with amazing foie gras and chicken confit terrine and the Australian Waygu steak, we even allow the sommelier to twist our arm and try a Chateau Margaux 2005 - a real treat. I try to skip dessert but am foiled by the chef who insists we try his petit fours with a coffee. I love the freshly made fluffy 'guimauve' marshmallows and the financier 'finger' with its almond flavouring.
For 'apres' we sneak up to the Long Bar for a Singapore Sling - also totally compulsory here. Be warned! The bar with its peanut shells on the floor, paddle fan ceiling system and smiling staff is so cliché it's like a movie set. I start chatting to the manager who turns out to be an ex-member of Transvision Vamp - You meet the most interesting people, in the strangest of places!The pink drink we've come to sample is extraordinarily sweet (apparently specially devised for ladies back in the day) so next time, I'm sticking to Cosmos.
PREVIOUS: "Entering the Orient Express lounge in Hualamphong Station was the start to a journey in a parallel universe."
For more from Rowena, follow her @just_glorious - take a look at www.justglorious.com or her portfolio at www.carrallinson.com . For photography check www.frereimages.com