Singapore is famous for its order and efficiency. Unsurprisingly therefore our arrival this afternoon went like a dream. Within an hour of our touching down at Changi Airport we’d cleared immigration and customs, picked up our baggage and travelled by cab downtown to check into our hotel. Having spent many a miserable hour queuing to get into America at various airports across the USA the Singapore experience was a breath of fresh air. Donald and Hillary please note, the American way isn’t the only way nor is it necessarily the best.
Our hotel is on the edge of the colonial quarter where historic buildings jostle cheek by jowl with post-modern skyscrapers and four lane highways. After unpacking and cleaning up we strolled a few hundred metres along a bustling arterial road past office blocks and fast food joints to the Raffles Hotel, the city’s most famous landmark.
Built late in the nineteenth century Raffles belongs to another age, and has the elegant architecture to match.
The rich and the famous have spent time there, particularly from the literary world. Maugham, Coward, Kipling and Hemingway have all hung out at Raffles, adding to its mystique and, inevitably, the prices it can charge the unwary tourist. We decided to eat elsewhere.
Singapore is typically tropical, for which you can read “hot and humid”, though this means flowers that seem exotic to us in the UK are commonplace here. The food court where we ate had trees in the outdoor courtyard on which orchids were growing; Julie was pleased to see one variety that she has at home, pampered in the warmth and safety of the utility room. Meanwhile the road from airport was lined with bougainvillea bushes, all dripping with blossoms of pink, carmine and red. Wonderful! I have to admit that it’s so sultry that Julie and I have turned a similar colour, and are also dripping liberally. I think it’s time for beers.