The Sling

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Friday, November 10, 2006

My closing chapter in Singapore was spent in style. Today I ventured over to the famous Raffles Hotel with Shannon, Louis, and Luke, where we spent a good hour or so cracking nuts out of shells and elegantly supping on a 'Singapore Sling', a cocktail as famous as the establishment in which it's served.

At $18 you know about it, but the experience is well worth it. You sit back and take in the ambience which feels oddly like you've gone back in time to some luxurious place of respite out in the middle of the jungle somewhere. It's quite an experience. Used nutshells are tossed aside onto the floor; drinks are carried back and forth on trays by swift, efficient, smartly dressed waiters who spin around the room ballroom fashion; automated fans waft in a kind of production line above the heads of patrons and rustle the huge green tropical leaves that define the occasional corner. It felt oddly like sitting on board the Titanic. I really got into the moment and was quite content just kicking back, shelling nuts and taking it all in.

The only thing that buffed off the shine was the amount of fat western tourists dotted about all over the place in caps and bum bags. It just took the edge off things a bit for me, and as I was sorely disappointed in the image this ridiculous dress portrayed, I quietly took off my own cap and bum bag and stuffed it in with my shopping until we got outside.

The final goodbyes were spent in the hostel. Email addresses were swapped, beers were sunk and the perfunctory group photo was taken. I left for the airport around 9pm.

I don't really know what to say about Singapore. The cultures are very mixed. Too mixed to be truly Asian or Indian, but a good mix, a harmonious mix, and one that seems to work well. Crime is very low here, people are generally very law-abiding and go about their business quite contentedly without causing much disturbance to others. There are cameras everywhere, though I really didn't feel any kind of invasion. Others did.

It's ridiculously, lathargically, sweltering hot here, and at noon there's an overwhelming downpour which has you stand undercover somewhere and watch with an immense curiosity as to how so much water can actually get up there in the first place. But it's incredibly timely. You can almost set your watch by it. When it stops there's an eerie silence and people go eat.

And then there's the food. Not only is there an abundance of local authenticity, you get to have it all: Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Peranakan, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, all the choice in the world and it's so so cheap. I found whole meals as low as $2.50. I've been in my element here. If you want the local dish you order either a 'Mutabak' or a 'Hainanese Chicken Rice', both cheap as chips and full of cross-eyed bliss. I had a Mutabak and it had me sitting, groaning, for a long time.

The people are friendly, the majority of them busy, and flitter around the city briskly with purpose. It was a pleasure to sit lazily and watch it all go by. Car number plates are stupidly over-numbered, the skyline is full of skyscrapers and everyone seems to love that 'fish-lion' thing.

Apart from dragging my guts out and rotting for a couple of days I've enjoyed my time in Singapore. It's exactly what it says on the tin. It's the 'hub' of Asia. I've met some great people, and have also had the rare pleasure of spending time with a local, sharing the delights of differing customs and culture. I do think that no matter where you go, it's the people that generally make or break an experience. Looks like I've been lucky again this time..
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