Singapore: or, when B met A with G

1) the Merlion spits onto Esplanade Theatres on the Bay aka “The Durian”

We enjoyed two visits to Singapore – one early in December; the second just before Christmas.

Despite my fast-tracked commercially-important person entry both times (see here), I was genuinely convinced I would be denied entry to Singapore upon arrival as I have been – in my time – a vehement opponent of the commercial dictatorship that runs the wee island state. I have written letters to the President and Minister of Justice  more times than I care to remember and really half expected to be deported upon my arrival at the CIP Terminal.

That, thankfully, didn’t happen. What’s worse – to my utter chagrin – I loved Singapore and would be keen to get myself repositioned there in an instant. Take that my poor humanitarian, Aquarian soul!

We stayed both times at Singapore’s self-styled ‘most prestigious address’, the St. Regis Singapore.  Management put us in the same room both times, a lovely – if overly ornate – affair that overlooked the Botanical Gardens and came complete with a Butler who we utilized to bring us tea,  and prepare our suits for an entertaining dinner Christmas Eve at the hotel’s very french restaurant, Brasserie Les Saveurs.

2) our room at the St Regis

3) the bedroom; 4) tea served upon our arrival

5 & 6) the bathroom

7 & 8) the real Christmas tree flown in from Oregon

9) more gifts from management upon our arrival

10 & 11) the view from our room

12) very tropical eh

13) even customized handles in the bathroom; 14) the St Regis entrance

15) the St Regis swimming pool

16 & 17) Decanter Wine Bar where we had our wine tasting our second time through Singapore

18) the piano-playing chef at breakfast 

I enjoyed the hotel but with a staff to guest ratio that must be near 4 staff for each guest, it can be a tad … oppressive. You can’t reach for a napkin, or elevator button, or door, or spoon without hotel staff beating you to it. 

On an impressive note, I must relate a story that speaks to this level of service. We checked in under G’s name. On Christmas morning the hotel set up an amazing breakfast buffet (complete with piano-playing chef!) in the grand ballroom. We came down for breakfast and seeing that they had moved breakfast from the restaurant to the the ballroom, I returned to the room to fetch the camera. As I left the ballroom, one of the 3 staff guarding the podium said “Have a good day Mr. XXXXXXXXX”. I was dumb-struck. How they knew me, amid several dozen guests, and noting we checked in under G’s name, was a testament to the both the research required and level of service delivered by the St. Regis team. Well done!

So why such a love affair for Singapore, you ask? Several reasons:

  • Alvyn and I finally got to meet in the flesh. Alvyn is one of my very first Xanga friends and it was wonderful after nearly 5 years chatting online to meet and seal a friendship. Yay us Alvyn!;
  • Singapore is brutally hot and humid which I so adore;
  • Singapore works (the airport is gorgeous; public transportation is a breeze; shopping is to die for). It’s a perfect mix of Britain meets Asia without the culture shock which can overtake you in places like Hong Kong. It is in a word or three, a classy, sophisticated and artsy destination. And this despite a thoroughly miserable government system supported by a population meek as sheep that have bequeathed their democratic rights carte blanche in exchange for economic bravado and safe streets. Not my cup of tea but hey, I don’t live there …. yet; and,
  • Orchids. Singapore has lots of lovely orchids and a stroll through the National Orchid Garden is worth giving up one’s democratic rights any day of the week imho.

Alvyn joined us at the St. Regis upon our arrival and we started our adventures together with a series of wine tastings in the Astor Bar (always a great way to start an evening me thinks).

19) Moi and Alvyn; 20) the Astor Bar

21 & 22 ) our wine and cheese tasting

From there, with Alvyn navigating, we toured the city keen to eat at Lau Pa Sat – the massive hawker market downtown. Alvyn, Singapore born and raised – and even with an iPhone map of Singapore – got us lost! (I’m laughing still Alvyn) but we were rescued by a taxi driver who got us there. Thereupon feasting began!

23 & 24) Lau Pa Sat

25) our table-full of food; 26) Lau Pa Sat

27) the dim sum guy right by our table at Lau Pa Sat (I love this picture)

28) chicken and rice; 29) skewers of course

30) shrimp on a stick; 31) doing durian for dessert

32) a quick tour around Lau Pa Sat while the boys are off buying more food

33) Marina Bay Sands – seemingly surreal backdrop

34) ION Orchard Christmas tree outside; 35) and in

36) the boys wandering, and; 37) pausing to look onto the harbour

38) Christmas Eve at ION Orchard

39) the Fullerton Hotel and downtown Singapore; 40) inside Esplanade Theatres

We wandered after dinner to Esplanade Theatres on the Bay for drinks at Orgo‘s roof top lounge, where we had Singapore Slings Orgo-style – of course – with thanks to Alvyn!

41) Parliament (which strangely Singaporeans don’t actually visit); 42) our Singapore Slings a la Orgo

43) the view of Singapore from the rooftop of Orgo; 44) wandering Chinatown

Upon our return to Singapore, we enjoyed a Christmas Eve dinner that afforded some interesting culinary perspectives. First off, the St Regis staff had placed traditional Christmas ‘crackers’ at each table. However, several diners – who obviously had never attended a Christmas dinner – didn’t know how to open the crackers and proceeded to take them apart by hand. Amazing! Our waiter had actually grabbed ours when we sat and offered to open each with him, which I thought very strange, as – at home – of course you always do that with your seat mate. In addition, some diners had clearly never had classic french food before and when the appetizer of foie gras was served proceeded to eat it as though a steak rather than use the bread and accouterments served with the course.

45) foie gras terrine with mango chutney; 46) scallop carpaccio with avocado, spicy yuzu dressing

47) crab ravioli, grapefruit beurre blanc, lemon confit adn red shiso; 48) slow-cooked turbot with leek compote, spinach emulsion, caviar

49) slow-cooked lamb saddle with braised coco bean, ginger, tomato confit, rosemary jus; 50) blood orange sobert with spiced chocolate cake and lemon cremeux

  51) the good bits were hidden inside the chocolate xmas ornament

All the while, a devoted if vocally-challenged choir of local school children brutalized their way through classic Christmas carols. To say the evening was surreal doesn’t quite capture it but it was both memorable and charming.

52) the choir – complete with neon angels struggles along

We headed out to Orchard Road afterward – which had become a parking lot – to survey the festivities of Singaporeans wandering the malls and streets taking in the holiday cheer. Christmas Day I journey to the Botanical Gardens to explore the National Orchid Garden which was a real delight and which I’ll post more on later.

53) traffic chaos on Orchard Road; 54) Singapore Botanical Gardens – I’ve arrived!

55) me ready to go orchiding; 56) I’m a ‘fan’ of the National Orchid Garden

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Singapore: or, when B met A with G

  1. CurryPuffy says:

    We enjoyed our stay at St. Regis last May, funny thing is the room is totally identical to yours! Yeah, it was hot and humid during that time as well!

  2. m3galomaniac says:

    SUper awesome photos :) I’m sure the hotel took down your name somewhere, could be when I called them asking for you, but that’s still freaky. And I definitely did not give up my right to democracy because of orchids, haha, maybe durians. Happy Lunar New year btw! ;) Year of the rabbit! My year :P Ring you up when I get to Toronto.

  3. kunhuo42 says:

    wow, that dinner looks amazing. it seems i’ll have to add singapore on the ever-growing list of places to visit!

  4. ElusiveWords says:

    I’ve been to Singapore once many moons ago and enjoyed it very much. The hawker food stalls are absolutely amazing. I’m getting hungry looking at all that food. The St. Regis service sounds incredible. After this write up, I’m sure the gov’t will roll out the red carpet for you. I think it’s great that you met up with another Xangan – after 5 years of chatting online.

  5. christao408 says:

    We have handfuls of Singaporean friends and frequently visit there. One thing we’ve learned is that most Singaporeans are very conscious of – and reasonably comfortable with – the trade-off they’ve made in terms of political freedom for economic and other forms of security.

  6. Fatcat723 says:

    The food looks delicious and the photos are beautiful. I too need my space. I hate to have staff circling me.

Comments are closed.