TRAVEL with pat and lew

Singapore was an afterthought

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 22, 2007

When we booked our Qantas flight from Paris to Perth, we noticed that it stopped in Singapore, where we had never been. For a slight fee, we could delay the connection, and we did so for three days.

Our taxi from Isle St. Louis to De Gaulle encounters no traffic, and the airport check in is so easy it’s frightening. They look at nothing.

“Would you like to see my laptop?”

“No, that’s all right.”

Five years after 9-11, this is not comforting.

We had planned to have dinner at the airport, but there are no restaurants. Next time we fly out of CDG, I’ll remember to pack a baguette.

Air France flies the ticket we bought from Qantas, which we know is not a good thing. The flight to Singapore takes 12 hours, the food is awful, and the seats are cramped. I do enjoy the movie, Spike Lee’s Inside Man starring Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster.

We make a bad decision at the airport and try to save a few dollars by taking a shared cab. We are the last ones off and the ride takes almost an hour. Exhausted, we check into our hotel and sack out immediately. (see separate Marriott post)

We sleep well, tired from jet lag and off rhythm with the six hour time change from Paris, which now puts us exactly 12 hours ahead of US eastern daylight savings time.

When we did emerge, we got directions to Botanical Garden, where we thought Pat could run. There’s a very cute running map in the shape of a foot. But the directions are imprecise, and there’s a huge problem right away.

The Marriott is on a corner, and there’s no apparent way to cross the street. Finally, we figure out that there are underpasses to get to the other side. We go down. The signage is awful. We come up at the wrong place. Down again. Finally on the correct corner, the sidewalk is mobbed. It’s loud. This is not a good running venue.

shopping par excellence 

We reverse direction. Orchard Street is wall to wall shops and malls, three malls on every block, each with 200-400 stores inside. There’s no architecture to speak of. No design. No attempt at beauty.

But there is an efficient layout of stores for serious shopping. Some designer stores, many brand names.

The currency exchange ratio now works in our favor, since each Singapore dollar costs only 63 cents US. Pat finds shoes at half the price she has seen in New York and elsewhere (did we get the conversion right?), and buys two pairs. They’re light, and we think they’ll fit within our Qantas guidelines. We were 1.5 kilos light coming in, between the two checked bags, and they never weighed the carry-on.

Outstanding mediocrity

After we had our Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel (see separate post), we search for elegant dining along the water. The street signs are not clear, but we wander in what turns out to be the right direction, although we never know this until we arrive. We pass through a large and beautiful concert hall and finally reach the water.

There are several restaurants, none of which are remotely elegant. Actually, they’re all quite tacky. We choose an Italian restaurant. No napkins. Well, actually, little tissue-like paper squares in a glass. We order pasta and wine. It comes, and it’s almost ok.

There’s no bread. “We don’t serve bread, would you like me to bring some. Of course, there will be a charge.”

Where’s the men’s room? You go down the stairs, out of the restaurant, across the street, through another restaurant and out into a hallway.

Remember the saying, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. (Or Olivia Dukakis’s variation in Steel Magnolias, if you can’t say anything nice, sit next to me.)

We decide the nicest thing we can say about this restaurant is that it is an outstanding example of mediocrity.

last disappointment

We took a harbor cruise on an imitation Chinese junk: 3 hours, hot, dull, waste of time. Better to use the time to shop.



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