Singapore- Part 3

David & Valerie Allen
Sun 19 Dec 2010 08:09
01:15.93 N   103:48.79 E

Tuesday, November 23, 2010.

After the rally briefing today, we thoroughly cleaned and tidied in preparation for our Happy Hour aboard with Eunice and Guan.  I don't think they can really believe we live in such a small space- and are exceedingly happy about it!  They also couldn't believe how our kids have all grown and have families of their own.  (Wasn't Jonathan a teenager just a few months ago?)  They examined the family photos and remarked how everyone (except Trish) had changed.  Just when we thought we were finally able to return some of their magnificent hospitality, Guan brought out a chilled bottle of champagne!  She even managed to open it without damage to the boat.

the grand opening!

After munching our way through some crackers, cheese, dips and sausages, we were off to eat again (of course- this IS Singapore!).  Tonight's adventure was in a familiar spot (Sammy's Curry House).  We used to eat there at this banana leaf restaurant in our old neighbourhood.  That is where all similarity ended.  Our house is still there, unchanged, although the entire neighbourhood has changed around it.  Sammy's still serves wonderful food (we chose South Indian dishes this time) and still on banana leaves.  However, the restaurant is much more upscale- no more long tables with benches squeezed in chock-a-block.

Sammy's Curry House

It fits in well with the new upscale neighbourhood of Dempsey Hill.  No longer are there tin-roofed shanties with carpets and Indonesian antiques for sale (a few remain in modern shops);  now there are street after street of fine dining establishments- even branches of the East Coast Parkway's favourite restaurants.  There is an exclusive butcher shop, an intriguing fountain with an enormous arowana and even a Ben and Jerry's ice cream emporium.

On Wednesday Dave was worn out and wanted to rest by doing some work aboard ANGEL and begged off walking around the Esplanade area downtown.  So the three of us had a girls' day out.  What a wonderful afternoon!

After finding a parking space, we set off to make a circuit of the bay.  Guan and Eunice pointed out some of the imaginative new edifices while we made our way towards the Esplanade itself- the Theatre and Opera House which was just completed before we left in 2002.  En route we stopped to admire the Merlion, the symbol of Singapore.  "Singapore" comes from "Singhapura", which means "Lion City" and, since it is one of the world's largest ports, a lion that is part fish was an appropriate symbol.

Singapore's Merlion in front of one of "The Durians", ie.e, The Esplanade

Another modern day icon is represented in this sculpture, made up entirely of Starbucks cups.

Starbucks sculpture

Singapore is also known as The Garden City and it still lives up to its name.  This photo is of the Law Courts Building framed, Singaporean style by flowers.

The space-ship shaped Law Courts Building

In the marvellous Esplanade itself there are very well-attended theatres and an opera house.  Upstairs there is also a public library devoted to the arts.  In the dance area, the library resembles a dance studio.  You can borrow music and could even dance there if you wished.  There is an upright grand piano in a sound-proofed room where you can take sheet music from the shelves for practice purposes.  There are hundreds of movie DVDs and Audio CDs  can be listened to at stations around the room.  Every newspaper imaginable is available in the periodicals area.  Membership is free and many people pass their lunchtime there.  However, it is closed in the evenings.

Singaporeans love durians.  This is a large rather prickly fruit with a very distinctive odour.  It is forbidden to carry them on public transportation.  Eating it has been likened to eating ambrosia while sitting in the sewers.  It is, therefore, very appropriate that the Esplanade buildings look like this fruit from a distance.

Following the walkway around the bay on your way to the Marina Sands Casino and Resort Hotel complex, you pass over the water via the Helix Bridge.  From above it does resemble a helix.  From inside it looks spectacular.

The Helix

Probably the most distinctive building in Singapore is the Marina Sands Hotel with its three towers supporting an observation deck and 100 metre infinity swimming pool.  It is awesome in every sense of the word.

Marina Sands Hotel and Casino

As Eunice and Guan had never visited this incredible building, we took the elevator to the top.  The views are unbelievable.

One view before entering was also incredible- that of the workers currently working on the outside of the lotus-shaped future cultural museum.

not a job for just anyone!

Here are a couple of other views from the top of the "ship".

looking down at The Esplanade (the Durians)

The Singapore Flyer

I wish I could have afforded to stay a night in the hotel in order to use the swimming pool!

swimming pool for hotel patrons only

Swimming, anyone?

For the less adventuresome, there are hot tubs on the other side of the "ship" with a feeling of more security- a plexiglass barrier.

adrenaline hot-tubbing

We made it all the way around the bay back to the  heritage Fullerton Hotel before the heavens opened and the lightning and thunder were unleashed.  It was quite a sight to stare across at the new modern hotel from the comfort of a more genteel era.

view from the Fullerton Hotel Lantern Pool

While Eunice popped out to see about a new apartment, Guan and I did my grocery shopping in record time and then returned to Guan's mother's apartment for a wonderful family dinner.  Amid the marvellous collections of pottery and antiques Guan's father had amassed during his lifetime
we were welcomed by her 90 year old mother, Winnie and her sister and brother-in-law.  Her mother is an absolute treasure- spry and full of tales about her life in England during the war and while escpaing to Singapore with her babies in tow.  The dinner was fabulous and the entire experience an amazing treat.  We felt very honoured to have spent our final night in this special home with these special people.  We can't thank them enough!

I will end this entry with my favourite photo of Guan and Eunice at the Fullerton Hotel (before the downpour!)

What wonderful friends!