Slingin' It in Singapore
Trip Start Aug 04, 2010
54Trip End Feb 04, 2011
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Where I stayed
We woke up the morning of the 19th determined to have a better day. When we arrived at our new hotel we were pleasantly surprised to find out that they had our room ready for us, so we dumped off our stuff and headed out to see the city. We bought a ticket for the hop on hop off bus line and set out to see the city. We loved this bus system because there was commentary in English so we learned all about the different sites we were seeing along the way. We ended up doing a loop on the both of the bus lines so we could get the lay of the land. We had lunch in Chinatown (we ate dried chicken with chillies, rice and a steamed Chinese cabbage dish - yummy and not something we have ever eaten at a Chinese restaurant in the states). After lunch we hopped back on the bus to check out the rest of the loop. Along the way we saw all the famous sites from a new HUGE casino/hotel that boasts a swimming pool on top of the building, to the Raffles Hotel where the Singapore Sling was invented (more on this later). Singapore is packed full of shopping centers, tall office buildings, a botanical garden, a performing arts center and so much more. After seeing all of the sites on the bus line and making notes of places we wanted to go back to, we got off at Clark Quay, a restaurant/shopping area on the water
We rounded out the evening with a walk across town to the famous Raffles Hotel. The Long Bar at the hotel is famous for being the place where the Singapore Sling was invented. We couldn't come to Singapore and not experience this bit of history, so after we explored the hotel grounds we made our way up to the bar for an after dinner night cap and peanuts. Yep a part of this historical experience is eating peanuts and throwing the shells on the floor while sipping your Sling......
Here are the Singapore Sling Ingredients
•30 ml Gin
•15 ml Cherry brandy
•120 ml pineapple juice
•15 ml lime juice
•7.5 ml Cointreau
•7.5 ml Dom Benedictine
•10 ml Grenadine
•Dash of Angostura Bitters
•Garnish with a slice of pineapple and cherry
Feeling good from our drink that according to an article I read on the internet had the equivalent alcohol of a half bottle of wine per drink we walked off our buzz as we headed home to Little India. As we got closer and closer to Little India we began to realize that the Thaipusam festival (more on this later) had already begun, so we stayed up until 2:30am to watch the early participants wearing predominantly orange saris walking with ornately decorated jugs of milk on their heads
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated by the Tamil community in Indian communities across the globe (although in Singapore we saw a few Westerners and Chinese participating as well). The festival this year fell on the 20th of January and we were thrilled to be staying in Little India so we could share in the festivities. On the day of the festival, some of the devotees shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route (in Singapore this route was a 4km walk from one Indian temple to another) while engaging in various acts of devotion to Murgan the Tamil God of War, notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but piercing of the skin, tongue or cheeks with skewers is also common. The most unbelievable kavadis are the chariots decorated with peacock feathers that men (most of the chariot carriers were men) attach to their bodies with various hooks and barbs.
Because we were up until 2:30am the night before we weren't able to get ourselves going until close to noon on the 20th. We rushed out of our room feeling anxious and nervous that we might have missed the bulk of the festival, but as luck would have it, the festival was in full swing. We grabbed a quick bite of yummy Indian vegetarian fare and watched the devotees and families process through the blocked off section of the street. We saw one man carrying a chariot and walking on shoes of nails...we saw others pulling a chariot that was connected to their backs with large hooks....the strength and resolve of these participants was truly admirable. Thrilled with our cultural experience it got even better when Les started up a conversation with a man who told us that we could actually go inside the temples to watch the ceremony that goes on as the chariots are put on the men
Feeling exhausted from the heat and being on our feet all day, we decided to take a break from the festivities in the late afternoon. We ended our day with some good coffee, a yummy meal of Korean food and a free music concert at the Esplanade which highlighted Indonesian music and the unique instruments used in creating the notes. Amazing day!!
The excitement of the 20th wiped us out so on the 21st of January we decided to take ourselves for a walk in nature at the city's beautiful botanical gardens. A green oasis in the middle of this crowded city, the botanical gardens were absolutely lovely. The coolest part of the gardens was an educational section that detailed the evolutionary aspects of plants......they also have an eco-garden in the works and an area just for kids.
The evening ended on a high note as we reunited with our friend Wilson. Wilson was a student of Les' at the flight school in Florida and we had him over to our place for lunch during his stay in the US. After spending time catching up, we had a terrific supper at one of Wilson's favorite Indian restaurants in town. Thank you Wilson for being such a wonderful host in Singapore. We can't wait to see you again in the US, please come visit us when you can!!