We just got back from an amazing trip to Singapore. We were lucky enough to have The Burthems: Simon, Emma and Harry to welcome us, and put us up for a couple of days. It was gurt lush!
As a first trip to anywhere new, I love the whole ‘not knowing’ and then finding out. It’s pretty much the best excuse to ask so many questions. And you’re allowed to be amazed by the way things are done, even if its just the slightest bit different to what you’re used to. It always reminds me of a Peter Kay sketch where a Brit has found a packet of Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers in Spain: “They taste EXACTLY the same!!!! Look, it says “Les Fingres!”
Permission granted then to Gape. We’ve hosted many guests in our time and have grown fond of being on both sides of the new arrival scenario. Emma, Simon and Harry, 4, were all too happy with our endless questions.
And we’re off!
Off the plane and straight onto the public transport. Within three minutes of reaching our destination, and following a convenient use of H&M’s wifi; Emma appears. This place is running like clockwork! I’m so happy about it that the next time I go to on the train I casually walk through the turnstiles with an open drink. Merely 5 metres through and I am efficiently stopped by security. It’s a $500 fine for eating or drinking on the subway. As I politely proceeded to finish my drink before I went any further her face turned to ash. Had I just awoken a sleeping giant. Had I pressed a button that should never be pressed. For a split second it seemed that way. And then we all got on with our day.
Welcome to Sentosa
Sentosa? What is this? The first I heard of the word was in a facebook post just this weekend past. Steven of Sentosa it read, and was accompanied by some big smiles and beautiful sailing photos . Who was this man! I recognised him of course, as Emma’s dad, out to stay for a couple of months, and enjoying the company of his family.So why the new nomenclature. It turns out that Steven has taken to daily cycles around the island, resulting in a fast growing recognition of the locals. And so fittingly became Steven of Sentosa.
We only just missed Steven, as he returned back to the UK just a day or two before we arrived. Word on the street is that he’ll be back in a month. Lucky guy!
Sentosa, I learned was where we would spend the next few days. It’s a small island of Singapore, with beautiful beaches, amazing appartments and marinas, Jackie Chans house and some eccentric music venues. There is also a theme park that we’ll check out next time.
I know I cooked it but it’s not really a meal
After picking Harry up from preschool (he was exceedingly happy to have new playmates), Simon came home from work and we, ahem ‘got on it’. It’s just what happens. I mean, it wasn’t like we trashed the appartment and the neighbours called the police at 5am. Not like back in the day. But we still got on it. My particular combo of Beer, Gin, Whisky and Wine was just what tomorrow’s hangover had requested.
The beautiful giddiness of catching up and hanging out with friends.
Simon can cook. Both nights he sorted us out some badass food. For some reason though, and with great amusement to us all, the Creamy Mushroom sauce and rice DID NOT pass as a meal!
A meat eater cooking for veggies is a beautiful thing. Thankyou. Word on the street is that 2 days later he had a veggie lunch……….
After dinner we sneaked onto their nearby boat for a few more drinks. In the dim red light down below the Super Trampolines of this nippy Trimaran, a toe war (yes a Toe war!) of epic proportions crowned the evening. Later Jen remarked that her confidence was buoyed by the drink, while she believed that Simon’s competitiveness loosened. All things being equal, there may have been a different outcome. As Jen pinned the winning move just seconds after I switched off the lights, you could even say it was rigged.
Meet me at McDonalds with your passport and a load of cash
The hangover really helped as I handed our passports over to Mike at McDonalds the next day. Yes, that’s right. In Bali, couriers on scooters come to your address and take your passports away with them for a couple of weeks. In Singapore you have to go to the outside tables at McDonalds and hand them over, with a hefty wad of cash. The absurdity was eased by the crack-like addictiveness of the processed Egg and Cheese sandwich that I had decided was going to soak up the alcoholic remnents remaining in my stomach. ‘Back here at 4pm’ I was told. ‘Sure, please come back too’ I said with my pleading eyes as I shook Mike’s hand.
He was there at 4. The Visas were sorted. I can vouch for Mike at McDonalds now.
Chop the table and a Pizza ATM
Stop the Press: Had we not just eaten lunch it would have been a no brainer. PIZZA ATM: Take. My. Money.
Earlier, we met Simon just next to his downtown office in a huge dining hall. We got the call in advance. He’d chopped us a table. Uh?
Very quickly- put a napkin on a table to reserve one seat. If there’s more of you then put a business card at each seat. I think that’s it. Though there’s probably more. I guess it works really well if people know the system. I envision many napkins getting brushed aside by innocent newcomers.
The food hall was incredible – 2 huge concentric circles of food stalls surrounded by endless tables and sat under a huge skylit roof with a bell tower in the middle. It makes for an exciting dining experience. Choice is aplenty. Even for veggies. Chinese, Indian, Singaporean, Traditional, Novelty, even Pork Floss is available. And there’s beer too of course.
In Bali we call it point and shoot. You just keep pointing and they keep putting it on your plate. Afterwards, I could not move.
Following lunch we wandered through a beautiful downtown temple and then past rows upon rows of incredible smells, all coming from the vast array of eateries lining the streets in amongst the office blocks. Everywhere was full. It felt like everyone had their own favourite place and they were right there enjoying it.
The second evening is always more refined
We ended up raiding the photo drawer in search of an elusive ‘flasher photo’ of Simon. It never showed up. I did however relive some of my own past through an epic photo album of his first trip to Faliraki, club 18-30’s style. Get in.
Cycling in Jurassic Park
The next day we got on the bikes and headed off on a morning explore. First stop was to drop Harry off at school. He’s a fast pedaller and so ready to kick those training wheels off. His adventurous streak will only be fuelled by his growing abilities. It was awesome to be introduced to his toys in the house as well. Until now I did not know that Thunderbird 4 lived inside Thunderbird 2. And I had certainly never explored Tracey island in such detail.
We carried on past his school, where Harry was busy rehearsing for his Chinese New Year Celebrations, and took our bikes around the coast path. I imagined Steven of Sentosa cruising along these paths. Probably a bit faster than us, as we were in full Gape mode, stopping at all the different waterfront houses, each with its own statement on how to incorporate a swimming pool between your lounge and your garden. Modern appartment blocks with sculpted baclonies intertwined with marinas, trees and mansions.
I became fantastically lost as we continued to edge our way around the cost, noting all the different yoga and pilates classes shading under varying pagodas. We stopped at an automatic gate surrounded by jungle. As it silently opened I had a flashback to Jurassic Park. “What were they keeping in here?!” I saw no dinosaurs at Sentosa. I remain sceptical.
We made our way along the run of beaches and had some lush food at a beach cafe. Palms and coconut trees up to the shore. Someone was doing Tai Chi by the water. He simply did not stop. A beautiful reminder of energy in action. Of grace and flow coupled with strength and concentration. Right on.
And so we headed back to the airport and said our thank yous and goodbyes for now. I smiled cheekily knowing that there was so much more to do in Singapore. We didn’t even see the big eco tree thingies!