It's been my desire for long to go to a foreign trip just for a vacation for a long time now. Now I am told that I visited Nepal when I was one or two years old, but somehow I don't think it counts. Firstly, anyplace you don't need a visa to go to just doesn't feel 'foreign' enough. And secondly, well come on, it's Nepal - when I was an infant.
Now I've been to cities outside India for work (yes, cities - plural. I still maintain that having a 4 hour stopover on my way to Toronto at Heathrow means that I've been to London...hmmpff)but to just go for a vacation after putting a I'm-not-reachable-while-you-losers-are-spending-your-life-cooped-up-in-cubicles-ha! out of office reply on my office email and not care about anything with only fun in mind...ah amazing.
Thus it so transpired that after several false starts and monumental documentation problems I finally managed to go to Singapore to visit SP and AD there. And what amazing hosts they were! (more about this later)
So writing in true blue travelogue fashion (and also the tendency of commoners to want to know EVERYTHING about celebrities) I shall give you a blow by blow, minute by minute account of the entire trip.
I took the evening flight out from Bangalore on the 26th (incidentally, my birthday) and landed in Singapore in the wee hours of the morning of the 27th. SP had asked me to call him when I land, however there was a small problem. The banks of payphones were inside the terminal while the shops from which I could've got change to actually dial the phone were outside. So I decided to venture out myself and get a cab. SP had also mentioned that the cabbies were the most interesting people there (and of course I knew this due to my extensive international exposure - read 4 days in Toronto..umm..3 years back) and I should try to talk to them. After the Mercedes cab that I wanted was narrowly missed by me, I sat in my cab and thought of starting some conversation. Apparently 6 am in the morning is not a very good time to strike up a conversation. I might well have been speaking to a solid wall for all the response I got from him.
But anyway, he got me to SP and AD's place intact. There was a small jam on the way
(Seriously? A jam caused by one car breaking down and sitting in half a lane. We would've just whizzed past it and not even noticed out here, but I guess that's what they mean by cultural differences. We sat for 15 minutes in the jam and by the end of it I knew each and everything written on the rear of the car ahead. Seriously, what use is a Masseratti or a Ferrari or a Lamborghini if you have to drive in straight lanes, stuck behind a station wagon?)but we still made good time.
SP and AD's Apartment:
What an amazing place! It's a duplex condo and the place is just brilliant. It has a beautiful balcony looking down on the club area. It's the kind of balcony where you can spend days curled up and just staring out. And I think we spent a lot of time doing just that :)
After meeting SP after I don't even remember how long, we had an important breakfast meeting with Mr. J. Daniels. After the meeting got..umm.. extended a bit we went down to the tennis courts for my first international match. SP is quite good, I think a better player than I am, but somehow I managed to match him. Good game, but was curtailed by a sudden shower.
Adjourning the match we hung out with Carl S. Berg for a bit before a lavish home cooked breakfast at, where else, the balcony. Tiredness did hit me a while later, afterall all I'd been doing for 10 days in Delhi was eat-sleep-eat-sleep, and I crashed for a couple of hours, or, you know, four.
SP had taken the day off and we went to NUS and picked up AD as she got off work. Then we walked around the entire place. Had a good dinner and then did the dreaded and necessary expedition to Mustafa mall. It's huge, but really, not being too 'shoppy' a person I wasn't too impressed. I had to buy a watch though and I managed to pick up a really good looking one. So my old watch is finally relegated to second position after four years of exemplary service. We met a friend of SPAD in Mustafa and went to his place for a while. A true blue Punjabi munda, his conversation was hilarious and we really had a good time there.
The next day we got up late and had a very elaborate day ahead. AD had to work again while SP had a half day so we took the bus to this station called, wait for it, Dhoby Ghaut. I was so kicked with the name (Dhobi Ghat is the place where washermen wash clothes on the sides of rivers in India). I was chuckling every time I saw that name. (chuckle)
SP had to go to office so I walked around the place. The central business district is quite compact and the maps seem deceptive. It's very easy to walk around the entire place in a couple of hours. The small Merlion(s), the riverfront (really really liked this), parliament house, supreme court (looks like a small office), Boat quay, Funan centre, the Asian civilization museum, the esplanade. Very nice and pretty. I especially loved the riverfront opposite Boat quay and spent a lot of time there.
The evening was brilliant. SP n AD, the great hosts that they were, took me to this place called the "The New Asia Bar", on the 71st and 72nd floor of Singapore's tallest building, the Swissôtel Stamford! That's the highest I've ever been without flying and the view from there, ah, marvelous. From one side you could see the rising modern buildings all the way to parts of Malaysia. From the other side you could see the ports with scores of ships with their lights twinkling moored beyond the coastline with the sun setting in the background. Breathtaking views. I think that view in itself was worth going all the way to Singapore!
To make this even better, we had dinner at a place called Chjymes which was a totally new experience. But the night was still young!
(it's just sad that most Indian cities, except Mumbai, have deadlines for nightlife.One feels really bad to see that people just start warming up for the night in other countries by the time we are usually back at home. It's also my theory that if there were no deadlines there would be less drunken driving and more responsible drinking. With no clock ticking down people would get a chance to relax with their drinks rather than racing to drink. Basically quality over quantity.)
We next went to what is the clubbing district and most happening place in Singapore - Clarke Quay. Spread along the river front this has hordes of clubs and food stalls and what nots!
We went to this place called Yellow Jello where a band was belting out Happy songs, quite appropriate to what we were feeling! Had a good time there and met another friend from India there. Then after some time we moved to the Cafe Iguana for some strong mexican margheritas, yumm :)
The day ended, as all my days there, in the wee hours of the morning.
And look, I've just covered two days. I guess this post will have to spillover to a sequel.
Can write post again? Can also can, cannot also can :) (shall be explained later)