Firstly – apologies once again for the recent depression-fest masquerading as a blog post. This one will be better, you have my word.
Before I start, I’d like to share an adorable picture that was sent to me by a lovely lady called sha21 (I do not think this is her real name). She made me into a cartoon! I am very flattered. My cartoon is much better looking than the real-life version, I hasten to add. I particularly love the addition of ice-skates for skating around frozen London!
Anyhoo – to the weekend! It was really lovely because Alex’s daddy came to stay. He had some meetings in Singapore on Monday so thought he’d spend the weekend here.
He landed on Friday evening, and we went to meet him in Boat Quay for a glass or two, then headed to a place called Loof. Loof is fun – it’s a rooftop bar, just opposite Raffles Hotel. It’s very relaxed and though it’s only on the fourth floor, it feels a lot higher because there is lots of space and the views are great!
This is Loof (courtesy of their website, www.loof.com.sg, as I have no decent picture of the place. Must. Get. New. Camera)
We ordered some food because by this point it was midnight or so, and none of us had had supper. However, after an hour, no food had arrived, and we realised that they had forgotten our order. Such a shame – a really great bar but let down a bit by the service.
So, we packed it in and headed to Geylang.
Geylang is actually Singapore’s red light district, but if you ignore all that it’s worth a trip there for the fabulous food! Basically there are tons of local restaurants crowding every corner, and every inch of pavement is covered in plastic chairs and tables. But don’t be fooled by appearances – the food here just might be some of the best and most authentic you’ll get in Singapore (and certainly some of the cheapest!)
Here is Geylang:
(photo courtesy of Alphonsus Chem for the Straits Times)
We had a beer each, and beautiful piles of freshly made, pillowy dim sum, rice, chicken wings and a big plate of stir-fried Baby Kai Lan with Oyster sauce – a delicious leafy cabbage-like green vegetable. The food was superb, and the bill less than you would pay for a lunch for two at any Pret or Eat in London. This is really one of the best things about Singapore – the ability to go out at any hour of the day and eat amazing food for less than the price of a pint).
The following day, the weather was a bit rubbish and rainy. It definitely wasn’t beach weather, so we decided to be horribly touristy and check out [drumroll, please]….UNIVERSAL STUDIOS!
We had seen Universal lots of times, as it is just over the bridge from the mainland on Sentosa, and we pass it every time we go to the beach. We had never been, however, and so we were accordingly very excited!
We stopped at a modern ‘British pub’ on the way for lunch; a place called The Queen and Mangosteen just across the water from Sentosa, by Vivo City shopping centre. My Fish & Chips were good (though not a patch on my Friday night childhood fish and chips back in Kent) but Alex’s dad, Alex, and Alex’s dad’s girlfriend all plumped for mussels, which were superb…cue major food envy from me.
Suitably filled up, we jumped on the Sentosa Express (a really fun little monorail train which zips you across the water to Sentosa in no time at all) and jumped off at Universal Studios!
As soon as we got there, however, we were informed that two of the main rides were out of action. Damnation! Duelling Dragons, the main attraction, has been out of action due to ‘safety concerns’ for the last six months or so. Obviously this is reassuring – very little in Singapore is taken more seriously than public safety, and clearly it should not be open if it was unsafe. However, we did think it a little rubbish that the park was still charging full price for tickets (about $70.00 each!) despite two of the main attractions being closed. Despite this, we were reassured that there was still lots to do, so we went in.
Once in, it became apparent that the Universal Studios in Singapore is, at the moment, still on a very small scale. We only went on one actual ride – a rollercoaster themed around the film ‘the Mummy’ which is all inside, and in pitch darkness. It was rather fun. The other two things we did were not rides, but ‘3D experiences’. One was a very realistic mock-up of a Category 5 Hurricane in New York – actually quite frightening! We were shepherded into a mocked-up sound stage, where the set was dressed up to look like a boathouse with the Manhattan skyline visible out of the windows. Half of the set was water, and there were lots of props everywhere to make it seem even more real. When the thing got going, strong winds buffeted the room, waves appeared on the water, and various objects appeared to fall from the sky – it was very well done and I did feel as if I had experienced a hurricane at the end of it!
The second ‘experience’ was a 3-D screening of a Shrek spin-off story, screened in a cinema with moving seats, so that you truly felt you were part of the action. ‘Highlights’ included 3-D spiders flying through the air towards us, and then little mechanisms below our seats wriggling around on the floor, so that it felt that we were really being attacked by spiders. Nice. Alex’s daddy’s poor Thai girlfriend did not like this bit AT ALL and kept her feet up on the seats for the rest of the screening.
Fun as this was, I have to say that I was quite disappointed by Universal Studios, and don’t think that with the current attractions and ridiculous queuing times it was worth the entrance fee. The log flume, for example, had a queue time of an hour – none of us were prepared to stand in line for an hour on a very hot, humid Singapore afternoon to experience a ride lasting about three minutes.
So, in summary, a nice afternoon, but I shan’t be going back to Universal Studios for a while!
The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing. We spent Saturday evening at Indochine, on the water at Robertson Quay – a lovely restaurant and bar with an open air terrace. The founder of the chain had invited Alex’s daddy for drinks and dinner, so we went along and met him and his lovely girlfriend. Let’s call her the Russian Doll because she is Russian, and looks like a doll.
The food was wonderful; lots of big fresh prawns, salmon sashimi, oysters, and some hot dishes as well – we were all stuffed by the end of the meal!
The place itself was lovely – right on the water, with lots of tables all lit up and glowing.
Also, this is my attempt at an atmospheric table shot, but it didn’t work. Sadly, I think I must accept that photography is clearly not a strength of mine…
The rest of the weekend was lovely and relaxing, and after some meetings on Monday Alex’s daddy and his girlfriend flew back to Phuket. That evening, I went to the cinema the Russian Doll. We went to see Season of the Witch with Nicholas Cage.
Before I begin, it ought to be noted that the cinema here is rather different from back home – everything has Chinese subtitles, and the cinema’s are FREEZING! Seriously, it’s the same in Phuket; I think they are trying to make sure it doesn’t get too warm in there, but a proper tip for any pending cinema trips in South-East Asia; take a cardigan. Or blanket. Or gloves. Or all of the above.
The subtitles were actually not too distracting, as subtitles go. Once, Alex and I went to the cinema in Malaysia, and were dismayed upon settling down to watch the film that there were subtitles in Chinese AND Malay, both sets huge and flickering and obscuring most of the picture! (don’t get me wrong; I expected subtitled…I had just hoped to be able to see something of the picture, is all)
Anyhoo, the cinema provided a perfect example of why, in Asia, I am fast learning that you need to double-check everything. It had been quite a long day at work and all I had eaten was cereal, so I was very hungry when we got there and decided to treat myself to a large box of popcorn. I ordered the biggest box of sweet popcorn they had, and a huge cup of iced water. Once in the cinema and starting to much, I swiftly discovered that I had been given a huge box of inedibly salty popcorn, and a massive bucket of some sort of hugely sugary fizzy Sprite-like drink. Fail.
The Russian Doll laughed and informed me that it’s best to check everything twice – a lot of the cultures in Asia, Thailand especially, will not tell you if they do not understand your request or they do not have something available, because it is a loss of face. Hence why if you are in a restaurant and order something they have run out of, a lot of the time they will not tell you and you only find out half an hour later when something utterly different arrives at your table.
The film itself I was really looking forward to. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am quite a bit fan of Nicholas Cage – I think it is because he looks like a Basset Hound, and also he does lots of action films which I love. I was introduced to the cinematic epic that is Con-Air at school by a friend, and have never looked back since – best film of all time.
Season of The Witch, as it turned out, was actually pretty scary – there were a few scenes that had Russian Doll and I clutching each other’s arms in genuine fear – but it was made much less scary by the absolutely amazing lack of historical accuracy and the utterly hilarious accents throughout. Good for a giggle, anyway.
I think that’s pretty much it! I have tried to refrain from even a sniff of doom and gloom – hope I succeeded.
Lots of love,
PS: Saw the most AMAZING sign on a van – made me giggle. ‘Have Ice Will Revel’ – best slogan I have seen yet (but if you have a better one, please do send it to me!)
PPS: I got some new shoes as an early birthday present! I am very proud of them…now must practice walking in them.