Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Silversea Expedition Cruises - Exotic Journeys Focus on "The Journey" - Silver Discoverer Indonesia/Myanmar Expedition: Part II (Singapore & Raffles Hotel)

My seventeen hour flight from San Francisco to Singapore on United’s 787 Dreamliner was quite good.  With the improved air quality, seats, room, lighting and temperature I literally walked off the plane (sitting in Premium Economy) feeling great and ready to discover Singapore…until the storm happened.  (I am not only talking about the rain, but the Trump upset…but this article is not about politics, it is about travel.)

Raffles Singapore Hotel
I arrived at Raffles Singapore at 8:00 a.m. ready to be impressed, but not for my room to be.  It was! Check-In took less than 3 minutes and it occurred with me sitting in a comfortable chair.  My longest wait:  Waiting for my butler to escort me to my Personality Suite.  (Mine is the Noel Coward Suite).






My suite is a true suite and filled with the atmosphere of the Colonial times past.  These rooms will be getting a bit of a makeover in the next year, while Raffles undergoes an extensive upgrade (and will be closed for part of 2017 and 2018).  However, other than the old televisions, I am quite content…even more so.

Raffles Courtyard outside of my suite


After resting a bit, I headed out to explore Singapore; surprisingly the first time I have been here.  I took a long walk through the governmental area, across the Singapore River into some of the business district 





and then to Lau Pa Sat; a massive, and frenetic, dining experience.  


I arrived at lunchtime and between the endless choices (Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Vietnamese, etc.) and the endless throngs of local people winding through endless tables, it was a feast for my eyes, ears and nose.  I did not see many tourists, but it is tourist friendly.  (Note:  People place something simple, like a card or packet of tissues to reserve tables.  It is honored without exception.  So polite!)

La Pa Sat - A great place to dive into the cuisines of Singapore
There were two things I had on my “must eat” list:  Chicken Rice and Chili Crab.  The chicken rice was OK (stunt chickens in the stall through me off), but the chili crab was great…and worked up a good sweat in the 80 degree and humid weather.  It is so spicy and messy that it comes with gloves to use while eating.  Yum.

Chili Crab
After a bit of a walk into the outskirts of Chinatown I headed back to Raffles to explore it as a destination (which it truly is).  What struck me was two things:  Raffles is a wonderful respite for peace and tranquility juxtaposed to the modern, fast-paced, city; and, there is a feeling of being a person rather than part of the masses.

I headed to The Long Bar; home of the Singapore Sling.  No, I did not have one (and did note the one tacky thing at Raffles:  Signs pitching the drink as you approach the bar.). But the bar is quite good…and the only place in Singapore where you can throw something on the ground.  (Peanut shells).  

A Gin & Tonic at The Long Bar
The Long Bar


Raffles Long Bar
After a wonder about this beautiful property it was time to get some work done and talk with my children (both very upset and scared after the election results).  Being a dad does come first!

Raffles Courtyard



It was then time to head out for a long walk…and I mean a long walk.  I walked from Raffles Hotel to the Marina Bay area, through the giant luxury Shops at Marina Bay Sands 







 and then all the way to Chinatown.  Hungry again (Can you imagine: Me hungry?) I wandered about struggling to find a place that wasn’t too touristic, but also that had what looked like good food.  It took a number of passes until I saw a place with a good number of locals and beautiful looking food.


It was a bit of a struggle to order (a good thing) but I had to have another crab and some hot and spicy soup.  The Spicy Crab was absolutely delicious and far better than at lunch (no gloves here…just a sink a few stalls away) and the Hot and Spicy Soup was both beautiful and a great pairing.  (And, by the way, it was half the price of my lunch!)

Spicy Crab...loaded with chilies 


Hot & Spicy Soup
After a taxi back to Raffles it was time to relax, have a drink at The Long Bar and then to get ready to board the Silversea Silver Discoverer tomorrow.