Travel preparations and a letter home

Friday 29 June 2001 – Singapore

Spent the morning preparing for travel in SE Asia, working out what I’d need to take and what should be left behind in Singapore. Feeling much better, the cold is clearing up rapidly. Took the gals from Music Education out to lunch to say thanks for their assistance during my visit. Had a message from Stephen Smith at the MPO to say I should meet with him next Friday morning at about 10.15am.

Walked home from lunch through Orchard Road. Must say that I’m glad to be getting away from Singapore. It now feels so familiar that I think I could find my way around blindfolded. Thought I’d try Newton Circus Hawker Centre for dinner as I felt like celebrating my last night in town (for a few weeks, at least!) with a decent meal. Unfortunately it was so crowded that there was no room for a lone traveler, even one who was prepared to spend $30 on some decent seafood, so caught the train to Orchard and had dinner at a food court instead – very ordinary.

Looking forward to restaurants where you sit down and someone who speaks English comes and asks what you’d like, rather than barking incomprehensibly at you, grabbing the money, dishing out very ordinary grub and leaving you to your own devices.

A letter home

The Joys of Travel Part One

After having my activities curtailed for a few days by a bout of the ‘flu, I thought I’d share some odd signs and notices that it’s been my pleasure to encounter. Well, they tickled my childish sense of humour. Put away your disdain and your taste and enjoy!

A popular Singapore magazine with a somewhat over-defined niche market: Female Brides (I can only assume that this publication is an arm of another popular women’s magazine entitled simply ‘Female’. I told some locals about how the Women’s Weekly – a local version is published here – used to actually be a weekly, but that when it changed to a monthly, it was felt to be inappropriate to change the name. The Singaporeans I told this to could not see any reason why it shouldn’t have been changed.)

  • Shop at Great World City (a large shopping mall)
  • ‘Wanko’ (It must have been a boutique)
  • ‘Cold Cooling Beer and Drinks’
  • ‘Chinese Tea $0.70 Buy 1 Cup Gets 1 Cup Free Topping’
  • Free wine tasting for Finder (a Singapore magazine for Expats) readers featuring Rosemount Wines and wine appreciation. (Presumably the appreciation was of a different brand of wine?)
  • Amrise Hotel – Special Opening Promotion Overnight (1 day) $38 2 Hours $15

Some tempting menu items

While I love the food here, there are some things I’ve not been able to bring myself to attempt. I’m sure these are all wonderful and delicious dishes that are simply suffering from all-too literal translations from the original Chinese:

  • Pig Organ Soup (sometimes seen as Pigs Stomach Soup or Pigs Liver Soup)
  • Boiled Fish Head Curry (this is apparently a quite wonderful dish of bream)
  • And of course there are many tempting ways of presenting chickens feet!

In Other News

Have been busy with meetings etc, and also looking around Singapore before I head north (see below). Last weekend I went over to Palau Ubin, a small island of Singapore’s North East Coast in the Straits of Jahore between Singapore and Malaysia. It’s relatively undeveloped, still containing some jungle and kampungs or old-style villages. It’s where Singaporeans go for their ‘outdoor adventures’, cycling the 10k or so around the paved road that circles the island, camping in carefully manicured grounds and generally trying not to get lost!

It’s the closest they have to a ‘Wilderness Experience’ – after all, they might be as much as 5km from the nearest food centre! I did have a near encounter with a large monitor lizard that thrashed back into the undergrowth as I zoomed past on an aged mountain bike.

The ‘hovel’ in which I’ve been living for the past couple of months has just been featured in a four page spread in a local lifestyle magazine! It seems that I’ve been living in the height of Singaporean style and taste! I’ve got the article to bring home to prove it.

I’m heading north next week to meet with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur. I’ll be travelling light and not taking the laptop with me, so communications may not be as instantaneous as we’ve enjoyed until now. However I will check my email every couple of days, so continue to contact me that way if needed.

Am attending a Tasmanian promotional bash at Raffles Hotel (no less!) this evening, with Jim and Honey Bacon and lord knows who else in attendance. It will be nice to see them, and as there’s no other way I’d ever run to dinner at Raffles, that should be an experience. Anyway, I’ll send more news as I’m able. Looking forward to seeing everyone at home in just a few more weeks.

Lots of love, Andrew

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