It’s been so long since my last blog I’ve almost forgotten how. Almost. But I’ve been busy; travelling in fact, and now that I’m back I’m happy to share a few observations on what was a delightful family holiday in Singapore, Australia and the Indonesian island of Bintan. I made a video too …
Singapore is a great place. Can’t say enough nice things about it. My old mum was there in 1945 and she said I should have a Gin Sling in Raffles so, we did. Although the city has developed at a pace, not much has changed about Raffles (it’s been lovingly restored) except a beer and a cocktail cost $52 which would’ve been a month’s salary for a Red Cross nurse in those days. Mum loved the place too but she said “There were a lot of Americans there after the war. They were nice, but they were very noisy…”. No change there, then.
Today Singapore is urban, busy, modern, clean, efficient, humid. And very friendly too. One of our team bought three bricks of cigarettes on the plane and took them through the Red customs channel at Changi Airport only to be asked how many he had and casually ushered back through the green channel by the smiling customs man. “Not enough” he said. Choice.
Highlights other than seeing Raffles for the first time included a sunset dinner at KuDeTa in the SkyBar and Lau Pa Sat (Food Courts) or Satay City as I called it. Oh, and cold Tiger Beers and Fu Nan: Digital Life shopping mall; hundreds of electrical gadget shops on six floors.
On to Brisbane, staying with rellies. We had a topsy-turvey Christmas in 35 degree heat; with crackers, 20-plus people on the deck, prawns like flamingo heads, Bundy and Coke, kids in the pool followed by an epic game of yard cricket. We spent a few days in Mooloolaba and Noosa (an hour’s drive north) where we rented a “unit”. We played in the surf, had dinner at Fish on Parkyn, lunch at Hot Pipi’s, visited the seafood market and took a jog along the seafront (soon to appear on http://www.joggingroutes.org/).
I love Australia. I loved the steaks at The Breakfast Creak Hotel. And I love The Aussies too, for their humour, their directness and their fortitude. Such a young country still presents boundless opportunity as exemplified by lovely Emi Kamada’s new and incredibly popular Bird’s Nest Yakitori bar where we spent a very enjoyable evening eating every part of a chicken, cooked over white hot Vietnamese charcoal. Culturally, Australia may be behind the curve but the Aussies enjoy life probably more than we ever will.
Finally back to Singapore and on to Bintan Island – an hour’s boat ride from the harbour. Stayed in The Banyan Tree where we had intimate contact with giant centipedes and saw baby Green Turtles. It was a nice chill out phase but it’s an expensive way to see the Monsoons and it did rain a lot. They’re building an airport on the south side of Bintan and they’re already developing massive swathes of land, murdering ancient trees to make way for golf courses and holiday homes. Although I sponsored it by going there I can’t help feeling sad to see such a paradise of an island slowly asphyxiating in a slurry of concrete and international cash. We may be the last generation to see it as it was and for that at least I’m grateful.