I've put up the rest of the Malaysian pictures, so have a look at what we did.
I'll write more soon. Gotta get to bed!
We're back in Singapore. One night at a five-star hotel to finish off our holiday!
I have uploaded the first picture albums for Malaysia and it is in the sidebar.
I have lots to say about the last week, but it will take some digesting before I can regurgitate it. Malaysia was quite marvellous, but the huge contrasts took some getting used to. When you visit a family living in a grass hut by the side of the road one day and enter a resort the next you have to expect speed wobbles.
I'll get the second Malaysian album up as soon as I can.
Only public internet access~here - the resort doesn't support Mac! And we have around 100 photos to upload.
Never mind - we are having a great time and I will post as soon as I can - the weekend when we are back in Sydney. So much to tell you!
I've put up my photo album of Singapore, and you will see it in the list on the left. There are over 60 photos in it, and I hope that you'll enjoy them. They cover the view from our apartment, Orchard Rd, my visit to the Gardens, our evening walk along Boat Quay, our walk around Raffles, and out river boat trip this morning. None of the Night Safari as cameras were strictly banned - the flashes upset the animals. Sandra thought that the live animal show they did at the Night Safari was a bit shorter than the last time she went, and then we read in the paper that one of the native cats had bitten a woman quite badly on the foot a couple of nights before, so that segment had been removed from the show! I hope they didn't punish the cat - they are a bit inclined to shoot first and ask questions later in this tightly-controlled city. Having said that, we saw our first policemen today, and haven't seen any military at all.
Last night we ate Chinese - crispy skinned chicken, beef and bamboo shoots in oyster sauce and sweet and sour pork (no, we didn't eat all that ourselves - we were with a friend!). All great. Tonight we went back to the Japanese, and it was as good as last time. We had Pad Thai for lunch and that was very yummy too.
Sandra picked up her suits and they look great. They fit her so well. And I have three cotton shirts, each with my initials embroidered on the left cuff! How cool is that?
Tomorrow morning we leave for Malaysia, and I don't know that I'm going to have the unbridled access to the internet that we have enjoyed here, so I'm not sure when you will hear from me again.
Ciao, a bientot, see ya mes amis...! (Note my attempt at multiculturalism in the spirit of this lovely island.)
Four words for you: Night safari - do it! Don't ever come to Singapore wthout visiting the night safari. Magical. Drawback (there's always one): men who can't shut up. As the little train is winding its way through the trees, revealing the shy animals eating, sleeping, socialising, and the voiceover is softly explaining what we are looking at, some bloody man is talk talk talking on. More than one, in fact. Why did they bother to come?
Food for today: South Indian dinner at a vegetarian restaurant in Little India and a chicken and 'century egg' congee at the Night Safari. Both less then $9, both top notch. I hope those eggs weren't really 100 years old...
Where are the birds? Even in downtown Sydney, even in the apartments in Pyrmont, which was a really buiilt-up area, we saw birds. Here I have heard a few, but seen only a handful of mynahs and pigeons. There don't seem to be any native birds at all, even in the botanical Gardens where I spent the morning.
The gardens are well worth a visit. They were overly full of people, mostly overdressed women from a Japanese tour party (high heels and chiffon is really not the best gear for garden walking in heat!), but I got some great photographs, especially in the orchid collection.
I've never been very fond of orchids, but the way they were presented here made me look at them again. They have made them look quite natural, and thus more attractive than the ones I've seen in old greenhouses at the back of peole's properties, mostly looking half-dead but with the odd much-praised flower. Now, I can hear you saying "But they are natural to Singapore!". Yes, that's true, but when you looked at how the stunning effects were achieved, you realised that the presentation is no more natural than those of Capability Brown, who shifted tonnes of earth and many thousands of cubics metres of water in 18th century Britain to make the vistas from the great houses look more 'natural'. Some orchids were held up by nearly invisible wires, the epiphytic varieties were growing in rotten logs that had been carefully placed and anchored with wire and nails, but the overall effects were magic.
So, here I am in lovely Singapore. This is my first real visit and I like it. It is a busy, noisy, efficient, clean place, somewhat endearing in its innocence and yet a sophisticated and cosmopolitan world city.
We have been here for two days so far, and I think that Singapore is completely about shopping and food. Here I am combining both. The icecream is a good example of the innocence: it tastes exactly like the Tip Top eskimo pies we used to get as kids.
I don't think this innocence is a bad thing - some of the items on the Straits Times this morning were delightful: reports of minor vandalism and robbery written up as major crimes, and no reports of 'real' crime (today anyway). They have a lovely column called 'Bouquets', where local people can write and thank others for their assistance - a woman thanking the Police Inspector who was kind to her son whe he was robbed, a family thanking the hospital staff for the treatment of their dying father. These are things I wouldn't mind reading in my own beloved Sydney Morning Herald.
What I don't like is the hassling by retailers and restauranteurs. It's difficult to walk around some shopping centres (worst so far: Lucky Plaza) or the food districts (worst so far: Boat Quay) without being inveigled and shouted at from both sides. "Maam, you want watch? Good watch, very pretty!" "Maam, you want table for two? Authentic Thai food, some spicy, some not spicy!" "Maam, you want ride? Where you go? I take you!" This from the operator of a trishaw, the little carts that are pulled by bicycle. I tired to buy a little radio, but couldn't find one that offered both am/fm broadcasting and mp3 capability. The guy nearly cried when he realised he wasn't going to make a sale 'cos he couldn't offer me am band broadcasting.
But we survived that, and I'm getting better at ignoring it. It hasn't put me off my food. The food here is so interesting: for lunch yesterday, in a cafe in a bookstore, we had a kind of tikka chicken in a crispy fried naan bread with lettuce and tomato. This came with a yoghurt dressing and a tomato salsa-y thing. Continuing the theme we had Indian for dinner: a kind of curried crab, tandoori chicken, garlic naan, mixed raita, and what was called a 'green salad with lemon dressing' which was raw onion chunks, cucumber, tomato, sliced almonds, raisins in a really tasty dressing. Passing up the onion chunks we cleared everything else in quick order. With it we drank fresh lime juice, which I'd never had before. Yummo!
Lunch today was in a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, a franchised cafe chain. It was really good - I had a chicken caesar, and I've had worse in a supposedly trendy Sydney cafe, and a persimmon and blueberry thickened drink - kind of like a smoothie, but without the milk or icecream. It was thickened with some kind of vanilla creamy stuff, it was really cold, and it tasted great. Sandra's wisdom is that when you order food in Singapore you never know exactly what you're going to get, but it's usually really good.
We have shopped quite a bit so far, but won't be doing too much more. Now Sandra has started work I will move into sightseeing phase. I have bought lots of things for my granddaughters, along with two silk tops and several linen and cotton shirts and pants. It's hard to find my size here, but Sandra (of course) knew this shop... She has been much more wicked than I have; not only has she been to a tailor and ordered more than one suit to be made for her, she has bought jewellery. I ordered three shirts from this tailor (only three - I could have ordered 20 - the fabrics were to die for), and splurged on Issey Miyake toiletries. And in the truly huge Kinokuniya bookstore, a copy of Vogue Knitting American Collection which I hadn't seen before found its way into my bag...
Lastly for this episode, the view straight down 13 stories from our tiny balcony. We are in fact on the 19th floor - this pool and garden are sitting on top of the five-storey building that forms the lower part of the complex. The pool is great - warm and shallow - and that is a spa in the right hand top corner. Tough life, huh?
And no, it's not too hot here. Hot, but not unbearable.
Guess what this is:
It's Sonnnet, from Knitty, Fall03. Or it will be when it's finished. The yarn is Eki Riva, 75% baby alpaca, 18% silk, 7% polyamide from Peru. And it's soft, soft soft.
Two more sleeps...
And check this out. It's very long but completely fascinating. It's about mystery, tapestry, maths, digitisation and complete eccentrics, and has more twists than a strand of corriedale. I could see a novel based on this story. Tie it in with a secret code that will predict the election of a new pope and it could be a multi-million-dollar best-seller!
This weekend I:
Big brain work and big body work and domestic work. Too much. I did manage some knitting - only a few rounds on Liz's socks and some swatching.
I can't wait to go away! Only 5 sleeps to go! Yay holidays!