Oh, but first, let me record our great dinner last night, in the Cordon Bleu “Signatures” restaurant here on the ship. Delicious!
I’m afraid we’re not wine afficionados. We enjoy wine; we know what we like to drink and very much appreciate a good one when we find it. But when we find descriptions like this, we can’t help but smile.
So, having sampled the racy Sancerre and moved on to the crushed plum, graphite and liquorice note of the Crozes-Hermitage, we’d tried very hard to identify these flavours but gave up, simply reporting that they were both delicious!
Signatures is great – special but not stuffy. Great food very much to our taste and best of all, we have another couple of bookings up our sleeve for later in the voyage.
But we had an early start this morning. Whilst Mark was in the bathroom around 6am, I peered out on our verandah and saw this – a tug guiding us into our berth and the lights of Singapore shining out in the early morning gloom.
Our tour today was taking us to the further corners of the island and I thought of my friend Maggie as we drove past some of the last remaining shophouses of the past. Singapore really doesn’t look like we remember it from just fifteen or so years ago – Maggie, I don’t think you’d recognise it at all.
Most of what we saw looked like this. Manicured lawns in front of large apartment blocks, served by efficient (but busy) dual carriageway roads. Yes, a little anonymous and one might even say, sterile.
But some things haven’t changed at all. Desmond, our guide (whose real name was three syllables of Chinese) gave full and frank descriptions of life here, explaining carefully about the “chewing gum” rule and the restrictions on nipping over into Malaysia to buy petrol at half the price the Singaporean garages charge. But ultimately, Singapore is, well, Singapore! Strictly controlled and ever so slightly antiseptic. Not at all Asian.
We began at the market, where Desmond gathered fruit for us to try later, pulled a couple of unfamiliarly flavoured eggs from a stall to show us and explain, and then picked up this black chicken to describe what it was and how it was created. As you can see from the photo, his audience was rapt!
Next stop was the funerary goods stall, where paper replicas of the things one might need in the next life could be purchased by one’s grieving family.
Yes, that is a set of paper dentures, toothpaste and fixative…
not to mention the ipad….
There were also the more traditional market goods and for sure, the fish smelled and looked very good indeed.
But there was no time to linger. We sped out on the expressway (the PIE, as it was described on the signposts, to our amusement!) Passing by the Flyer (the wheel) and the new development at the Marina (those three tower blocks are hotel rooms, linked right at the top by a park and an infinity pool), we entered the sixteen km long tunnel, arriving at our destination for the morning: Changi.
I will say at this point that I was none too keen on coming here. We’d really chosen to spend the day exploring that wheel, those three tower blocks and the park on the top of them. But sadly, not enough people had chosen that particular venue and so, we selected what I considered to be the best of a bad job. How wrong I was.
The Changi museum and chapel were truly moving and explained the personal stories behind the people involved so very well. Uncomfortable, certainly, but nevertheless we felt the better for having learned a bit more about these remarkable survivors and the experience was one we will remember.
The same could be said for the Commonwealth War Graves site at Kranji – yes, some holiday this is, eh? But again, this was an amazing place and we both felt that it had been worth the short time we’d spent here. Nothing like seeing those rows and rows of immaculately tended headstones to make one feel blessed.
From there, it was on to lunch at a smart Country Club, where the chicken head on the plate being rotated on the lazy susan kept giving me the eye…
Then, finally, a stop at the Bright Hill Temple. A fine piece of Chinese architecture, we loved the huge Buddha and followed Desmond’s example of walking around it in thoughtful mode.
Only partly distracted by the email address engraved on the side….
The small buddhas on the lawn were cute, too, attracting plenty of attention.
Back to the ship, then, and a last look at the latest amazing development right by the harbour. These wonky skyscrapers were said to have been designed by a drunken architect…hardly surprising when one takes a close look.
Our ship was being refuelled, so we looked down on this tanker for a while until we were ready to leave. With a long blast on the ship’s hooter, the ropes were released and we were away, bound for Kuala Lumpur tomorrow.