This past week has been absolutely wonderful for two reasons:
1. I have been on holiday…
2. …because my parents flew into Singapore last week to visit me! Woohoo!
Now, Mummy and Daddy Williams have never been to Asia before, so they and I were a little apprehensive. However, they have taken to the whole thing like ducks to water and, in true English style, have been remarkably game and tried everything!
The evening they arrived, I picked them up at Changi Airport, and took them to their hotel. They were staying in a gorgeous hotel in the middle of Singapore’s Chinatown district, called The Scarlet, which I thoroughly recommend to any of you coming to stay in Singapore.
Here is the Scarlet:
(Photos of The Scarlet courtesy of http://www.thescarlethotel.com)
The Scarlet is run by an amazingly exacting Frenchman named Henry who is an absolute stickler for detail, and as a result the place is exceptional.
It’s a little boutique outfit halfway up a hill on Erskine Road with only 80 rooms, but it’s stunning.
The service, rooms and whole thing really is pretty much impeccable – the rooftop bar, Breeze, is where Alex and I often go for cocktails, and in my opinion, a hotel that can turn their watering hole into a destination bar, especially in a city such as Singapore which is full of destination bars, has to be getting something right!
Anyhoo – so I’ll stop rattling on about the hotel. Once Mummy and Daddy had checked in and cooed with delight over their room, I asked them where they would like to have dinner.
Now, seeing as they had just stepped off a twelve-hour flight, I had expected them to suggest a quick bite in the hotel bar and then bed.
But, no – true Brits they are, they wanted to dive straight in. So, I took them to Lau Pa Sat.
Lau Pa Sat (or Telok Ayer Market) is an amazing hawker centre on Robinson Road, right in the middle of the CBD. It is housed in a beautiful Victorian open structure with pillars which, believe it or not, was actually built and shipped out from Glasgow! Ha – bit of British, love it.
This is La Pa Sat, isn’t it gorgeous?
(Photo courtesy of http://www.sg.com)
Mummy and Daddy asked to try some local food. So we plumped for an assortment of beautiful, pillowy Dim Sum, gorgeous Vietnamese phở gà and some Claypot Chicken Rice or shā bāo jī fàn, which is fragrant rice baked in sauce in a clay pot until the rice at the bottom is slightly charred, and served with chicken – mmm, delicious!
After stuffing ourselves silly, I took the parents back to their hotel for a bit of well-earned kip.
The next day, Alex and I headed over to Chinatown to meet Mummy and Daddy for coffee before Alex headed to work.
We took a stroll up Club Street, which I love because it’s so beautiful and full of character. It’s also right on the edge of the CBD, so you can vividly see the juxtaposition between the old colonial buildings and the new modern skyscrapers, which I adore.
Leaving poor old Alex to go off to work, feeling a bit mean, the three of us jumped into a cab and headed to THE ZOO!!
Let me start by saying –Singapore Zoo is absolutely AMAZING. It’s a genuinely good zoo.
Now, zoo’s in general are ok, but to me, they seem a bit like window shopping with no cash – lots of nice stuff but you can’t take it home and play with it.
I like animals of course; my darling Jessica Rabbit is (apart from my best friend Kitty and my family and Alex and various food stuffs) my great love, and has a strange almost god-like hold over me:
And our friend Alberto’s puppy has also wormed its adorable way into my heart (by the way; apologies for the sleazy pervert eye in this picture.
Don’t quite know what happened there, slightly worrying – do I look like that when I smile at people?)
Anyway, I digress. Zoos have always been sort of fun but not really my thing.
However, Singapore Zoo was absolutely, utterly incredible and made me want to jack it all in and become a zookeeper.
The ride out from the centre of Singapore to the zoo is quite long – about half an hour or so, and about $20.00 – $30.00 SGD in a cab. Don’t let that put you off, though, it’s utterly worth it.
It’s one of the only zoo’s I have ever been to where you can actually see a lot of the animals up close and in their natural habitat (well, sort of). For example, groups of monkeys wander around the park quite happily, not caged in any way, having the time of their lives.
The zoo is laid out really well with clear animal areas so you sort of feel as if you are exploring for yourself, and the sheer gorgeousness of some of the animals here is just amazing!
I will now bore you dreadfully by showing you some zoo photos.
If you do not want to look at them, you don’t even have to smile politely and say ‘Oh gosh, how incredibly interesting’ in a convincingly fascinated voice – just scroll down to the bottom. I will never know.
Here are two white tigers:
And some Orang-utans – Mummy absolutely adored them and spent ages making googly eyes at them!
Here is a really cool lizard…
…and some Lions. Mummy didn’t make googly eyes at them:
Here is a Giraffe:
And some zebras.
They look just like a cross between donkeys and ponies that have been painted stripey!
And here is me riding a Unicorn*
*this is a lie, I did not actually do this. This was a cunning test to see if you were still reading.
On the way out, there was a Doctor Fish Spa. I think they have these in England – Japanese Doctor Fish (they are usually Garra Rufa fish) are so called because, when you place your feet in their tank, they will gently nibble at your feet, consuming any dead areas of the skin, leaving the healthy skin to grow.
Mummy and I went in – Daddy was being terribly English and man-like and sat outside on the bench peering in a bit suspiciously.
They loved Mummy’s feet:
And they loved mine too:
Ok, ok – another huge lie.
Actually, I was very excited about putting my feet in the tank with the fishies and emerging with beautifully smooth trotters.
However as soon as I did, and they all swarmed towards me and started nibbling my feet, I got totally freaked out and pulled them out, roaring in alarm, and making Mummy jump.
I tried again, same result.
I tried a third time – once again, utter failure.
So I gave it up as a bad job and the nice lady gave Mummy my time, and I felt like an utter fool.
That evening, Alex took Mummy, Daddy and I out to dinner – Nick came along too. We went to an absolutely incredible restaurant called Ming Jiang, in a lovely area of Singapore called Rochester Park.
We were very excited about our dinner here, because they are supposed to serve the best Peking Duck in the world – that’s right, in the whole world!
And, you know what? They did.
The entire meal, from the very start to the very end, was utterly out of this world. You pre-order the duck 24 hours in advance – trust me, it’s worth it.
There were five of us, and we ordered one and a half ducks which turned out to be a little on the generous side (although Daddy and the boys would disagree with me on that, I am sure!)
The restaurant itself is gorgeous – all dark woods and subdued lighting and clean lines. We had a table on the terrace which was a lovely place to eat, and the appetisers – peanuts cooked softly for so long that we thought they were haricot beans – were stunning.
The real piece de résistance, of course, is the duck – and what duck!
The chef comes to your table and carves your ducks for you, like this:
He then goes away and rolls it into pancakes for you (using chopsticks – oh my goodness, the dexterity!) and it comes back all beautifully presented.
(Rather crapulous picture as usual, sorry)
When you have finished your duck rolls, you can choose to have the remainder of your duck put into a variety of different dishes for you – I’m afraid I cannot remember which we had (officially because Alex did the ordering, unofficially because the wine was rather nice and I had enjoyed a few glasses by this point) but it was all fantastic.
The bill was a bit painful, as we had quite a lot of wine, but although Alex winced when it came he didn’t cry which was a good sign.
So, all in all – somewhere I thoroughly recommend if you ever have the chance to go. But remember – book ahead!
The rest of the week has been gorgeous so far – as anyone who is living away from home knows only too well, a visit from friends and family can perk you up no end and make even the farthest flung place seem like home.
We left Singapore for Phuket on Saturday morning, and spent a wonderful day and night on board Chrysalis, with plenty of good food and even better company.
To get there, I headed over to Chalong Pier, on the other side of Phuket , to meet Chrysalis – the pier at Laem Hin looked particularly beautiful as I left Coconut Island, like you could see Heaven in the sky:
We sailed overnight from Phuket to Koh Ratcha, a gorgeous island a couple of hours east of Phuket where the diving is really fantastic.
It is a really rather dramatic-looking outpost; very rocky and romantic-looking:
The weather was beautiful and, post-dive, the hostess on board Chrysalis, a lovely Filipino lady named Joy, made us the most amazing lunch including what was, without a doubt, the best Tomato and Mozzarella salad I have had in a long time!
Doesn’t it look wonderful?
Anyway – we all had a fabulous day and apparently the diving was very good.
I snorkelled with our friend Film Lady – we had a great time but agreed that the snorkelling actually wasn’t that great.
In contrast, Film Lady’s partner, Interior Designer, had a great snorkel about twenty metres away from where we were so clearly we were in totally the wrong place!
Tomorrow we are going to the gun range (Mummy’s request) – I cannot wait to see her with an AK47.
I am currently writing this in the middle of a rather huge storm in Phuket – I can hear the waves on the beach at the end of the garden crashing onto the shore in a rather alarming fashion, and the rain is hammering my bedroom windows like you wouldn’t believe.
So, seeing as it is also nearly two o’clock in the morning – crap, just realised that! – I think I am justified in leaving you now for my warm cosy bed and a good book.
I hope you are all well and happy, wherever you are!
Lots of love,