Today, we wandered across the city to Little India in search of a lunchtime curry. There’s all kinds of street eating in Singapore and for a reason I don’t really understand, the Indian option usually looks measurably less hygenic as to drive us elsewhere. This visit is no exception; being kind, the food on offer looks like it was made several hours ago and in kitchens that continue to avoid the city state’s strict by-laws regarding cleanliness.
Close to giving up, we spot the Islamic Restaurant and get a few strange looks as we enter and settle at a table.
Our choice of mutton rogan josh and chicken jalfrezi accompanied by garlic naan gained us some cred amongst the one-handed diners. When it arrived, it was delicious and we set about it with great enthusiasm, only blunted by our poor choice of day and time; the restaurant staff were anxious to close up and answer the call of the imam who was busy yodelling across the road.
No problems, we quickly mopped the last of the delightful sauce and departed along Haji Lane for Blu Jaz, a nearby open air bar, where a couple of Tigers and some excellent music on their audio system, completed an excellent lunch.
Saturday. We got just about everything back into our luggage and felt like a pre-departure treat for lunch. There is a Japanese sushi chain outlet in one of the underground malls across the road. Sushi is just S$1.50 (R9) a plate and without going into the gory details, I will admit paying a bill for almost R250
At that price, the stranger types of sushi become accessible without embarrassment or financial ruin. So, we tasted and added octopus, sand clam’s giant red tipped horns, swordfish, sea bass and okra wrapped in a sweet bean curd pancake to our usual roster of salmon, tuna and prawns. They were all uniquely flavoured and at that price, well worth the risk
We almost didn’t make it though. The warren of underground malls around City Hall, Raffles Hotel and various other buildings of note is like the work of a demented knitter. We’d stopped in Raffles Courtyard for a quick beer o’clock (two actually) and suitably refreshed, entered the labyrinth, only to be completely disoriented by our unusual point of entry. Wandering like Hansel and Gretel and leaving a trail of sushi rice behind us wasn’t an option given Singapore’s littering laws, so we walked and walked and walked some more. Up escalators and down stairs. Eventually, far away at the end of the last mall, I managed to spot what looked like the red exterior of our chosen culinary target. Saved!
It’s been a great stay here in our favourite city. The economic woes of the rest of the world aren’t so obvious here, although if you look carefully, there isn’t quite as much money sloshing around as we’ve seen on previous visits.
One thing we did see was an enormous flotilla of merchant ships, unladen and tied up just a kilometre or so offshore. The scale of this response to the economic downturn really struck us earlier in the week when we walked the length of the East Coast Park.
Long a “must-do” on previous Singapore visits, we finally set an afternoon aside, got a taxi as far along the Park as we could convince the driver to go – much closer and we’d have been back at Changi Airport – and then walked back to the city; some 8km.
The Park is an integral part of life in the city and offers side-by-side pedestrian and cycle tracks, beaches, recreational facilities, barbecue areas, restaurants, cabana accommodation and much more.
Offshore, literally hundreds of commercial ships from small freighters to oil tankers and several huge container vessels bobbed gently at their moorings, their owners doubtless wondering how long it would be before they started earning meaningful revenue again.
We wandered – the afternoon temperatures were beginning to finally dip – and got a first-hand glimpse of everyday relaxation time in this extraordinary city. As the Park petered out so did the pavement and short of tackling the huge and not very pedestrian-friendly road system, we hailed a taxi back into the CBD and our hotel.
Saturday evening with time to kill, we wandered down to the area where Marina Bay meets the Grand Prix circuit to check out Mapansutra – an outdoor hawkers’ market. It was heaving on this fine evening and our dinner of bee hoon (Singapore style noodles) and grilled chicken wings was topped off by the nightly light show put on by the aforementioned Marina Sands across the Bay. Done and once again full of food, this time topped up with some regrets at leaving, we meandered along past the brightly lit restaurants of Boat Quay to the hotel. In a couple of hours we’ll be on our way to Changi to start the check-in process and wait for 02:35 tomorrow morning when our flight lifts off for home.
By the time I’ve posted this, we will be back home in Rooi Els, some nine weeks after leaving for London early in November.
So, some stats:
According to the Interwebs, we have flown 27358 miles or around 44028 kilometres. This does not include the 4352 km from Sydney to Perth on the train.
The longest flight was from San Francisco to Sydney (7416m/11935km), the shortest from Bangkok to Vientiane (322m/518km).
The flights took us to and from 17 towns and cities, where we stayed in the same number of hotels.
We had nothing but good service from every place we stayed. The best; MotherHome Guest House in Siem Reap, which stands head and shoulders above what has been a pretty impressive bunch. Especially so, as almost every establishment we stayed in had been selected and booked over the ‘net.
We ate at least twice a day, invariably out of our hotel/guest house. Our eating choices were largely based on the country/city we were in at the time, interspaced with the predictable Japanese, Italian and Indian fare. On no occasion did either of us suffer any more than the slightest after effect, despite choosing some pretty dodgy looking establishments in which to dine.
In the nine weeks, we walked:
- 104.5km in November
- 294.3km in December
- 96.5km in January
I took slightly less than 9000 photographs. Most were taken in the urban environment and around 60% were shot with MLS, which has proven to be a fantastic piece of kit. The balance were mainly landscapes and shot with my Nikon D700. So far, I’ve identified around 7% of that total as “keepers”. I’m sure there will be more when I have time to edit, sort and choose properly.
Those 9000 photographs are all in RAW format and retained on the cards that captured them as I want to be certain of not losing anything. They have all been imported into a specially created Aperture (see other comments below) library, currently nearing 150Gb and which which resides on my notebook’s hard drive. From there, I have also backed-up the entire library to an external 500Gb hard drive and finally, every file has also been copied to an additional hard drive that has been in a zippered pocket of my travelling jacket since I purchased it in Santa Fé.
I blogged the trip from beginning to end and at this point (excluding the two pre-leaving posts) the word count sits at a little over 16,300.
In summing-up, I’ve realised that there was never a post from Las Vegas. Must have been the fleshpots getting to me. I’ve almost got it written now and will either post it on the blog, or just put it into the book – I’m producing a Print on Demand (PoD) book which I’m hoping to have finished in a couple of weeks.
Travelling, especially driving enables us to listen to a lot of music; car radio, restaurants, hotels and TV. We discovered a number of very good musical offerings that would probably have otherwise passed us by, not the least being Yo-Yo Ma’s Goat Rodeo Sessions and Gotye’s Like Drawing Blood.
We read a lot – thanks to my Kindle and Di’s iPad – and didn’t harm a single tree in so doing. Nor did we discard a single completed volume. The Kindle offering is very, very compelling, especially if you travel. It’s impact has been huge – in every city we’ve visited, mainstream bookshops like South Africa’s CNA are closed and out of business. The more specialised shops, like those that still sell audio LPs and film/processing services will doubtless survive.
We also watched a fair amount of TV (see earlier post), including the final six episodes of Spooks. Sad it’s done, but great watching. We also watched the entire second season of Treme and BBC’s surprisingly good legal drama series, Silk. To quote Mrs P; “…thinking (wo)man’s television.”
My Apple MacBook Pro has worked throughout, but it need be said that Apple’s recent operating system releases (OS X V10.7 et seq) show some distinctly Microsoft-like tendencies, notably OS kernel panics (crashes) and sporadic and glacial performance, especially on the Interwebs. My photo workflow tool of choice (Apple’s Aperture) proved to be almost unusable and resulted in my writing to the development team in the US to complain.
Their responses have been very nice, but without any real assistance and I’ve resorted to the Interwebs for help. If you are also using Aperture and getting ready to toss is out in favour of Adobe’s Lightroom, you might drop me a note and I’ll give you a couple of pointers that might make it’s performance a little more acceptable. With the fixes I’ve implemented, I now find it usable and don’t have to spend 30 seconds waiting for it to do pretty much anything.
How much did it all cost? In South African Rand, quite a lot – that’s a secret shared between me and my bank manager.
Oh yes. You probably won’t be surprised to know that we have started sketching out the route for our next major trip