Friends, Shopping, Eating & New Heights in Singapore

Sunday 25 September 2011

As you all know, I was especially excited to see my friend Jeanie on our trip to Singapore.  Jeanie & I jive on just about everything and we certainly picked up just as we’d left off.  Jeanie was the perfect host; she always had a list of recommended things to do and she took us to things we wouldn’t necessarily have done.  It was so great to see that she is doing so well even though I did envy her a tad when I saw all of the luxuries she has become accustomed to. (I may, or may not be directly responsible for her ‘newish’ love of luxury items.)

It was a huge surprise when I received a message from an old friend of Joe & I’s who happened to be boarding a flight to Singapore.  Joe & I met Nao the same time we met each other, our first day of university on 1Mac.  Nao is Japanese and he completed his business degree in Canada and returned to Tokyo to begin what has become a very successful career at Goldman Sachs.  We, nor anyone else from 1Mac, heard very much from Nao since then – we knew that he was working like crazy but always wondered about him.

Joe, Nao & I on the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel.

Nao was coming to Singapore for a conference and we arranged to meet each other for dinner & drinks.  I won’t lie, Joe and I were a bit nervous about our evening.  It had been 7 years since we saw Nao and we weren’t sure if he was going to be the same person we remembered.  He was – and our reunion was fantastic.  We talked about all our old friends, our new lives in Africa/Japan and plans for the future.  It was so great to catch up with Nao and to meet his girlfriend and as Joe and I returned to the hotel late that evening, we decided a trip to Tokyo must be put in the works.  (I’m sure Joe has been dreaming of driving Nao’s Ferrari ever since!)

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Singapore’s national past time is shopping.  I have never seen so many malls in my life and these aren’t just mini strip malls with a bunch of dollar stores – these are high end, luxurious malls.  Any designer store you could dream of was there, and multiple times:  Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Miu Miu, Christian Louboutin, Cartier, Gucci, and many, many more.  Just when I thought I found the largest LV store I’d ever seen, I crossed the street and found another.  I have never seen anything like it, not even in Los Angeles.

Orchard Road - ION Shopping Centre from the outside

When Joe was in his course, I spent my time window-shopping and daydreaming.  I tried very hard to reason myself into going on a luxury shopping spree but reality hit – I live in Africa, what do I need from Prada???  My fingers are crossed so tightly for our next location – please let it be somewhere I can bring my Jimmy Choos!

When Singaporeans aren’t shopping, they’re eating.  Because of their diverse ethnic communities, you can eat just about anything you want.  Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, and any Western food you could want from hawkers on the street to (extremely) expensive restaurants.  One night we ate satay and noodles at a street market, the next night was sausage and sauerkraut at a German pub and the next, one of the most expensive steaks I’ve ever had (and some delicious NY cheesecake flown in from the Bronx.)  My life was complete when I found Clamato at a specialty supermarket.  (This was possibly where I was cursing Jeanie a little under my breath!)

Joe pondering menus at a street market.

The only downside to all of this was how expensive it was.  Sure, the street hawkers were reasonable but alcohol sure wasn’t!  To buy a can of beer (local beer at that) in 7-11 was $10.  In a restaurant, the cheapest we saw was $13.  My pomegranate martini at dinner one night cost $26 (it was so good it was worth it.)  I suppose you get used to it – just as we’ve become accustomed to $25 broccoli!

New Heights
Singapore has got some tall buildings and numerous of rooftop bars & restaurants.  We started our exploration of heights with the Singapore Flyer, a giant observation wheel.  We then ventured much higher to One Raffles Place where we took an elevator to the 62nd floor, a whopping 282 m high for a drink (or 2) at a bar fittingly called, Altitude.  There was a glass railing around the perimeter no taller than me, no wire or mesh above that so I could peer over the railing to the ground below – freaky, but beautiful views of the city!

Jeanie & I on the Singapore Flyer.

Going up? Heading to Altitude, all the way up there!

The Singapore Flyer on the left and Marina Bay Sands in the centre - both quite a bit smaller than where we were!

Later on in the week, Joe & I went to the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel with Nao to Ku De Ta bar.  The hotel is relatively new to Singapore and it consists of 3 towers with a long boat perched on top.  It is really quite impressive to see.  Even more impressive that on the boat there’s not only the bar but also an infinity pool overlooking the city.  Unfortunately, you can’t use the pool without staying at the hotel and the hotel goes for $400 and up a night.  I wanted to stay there so badly even just for one night but my conscience (Joe) got the better of me.  Maybe next time….

Marina Bay Sands Hotel

View from the top of the hotel - the tallest building with the bright white lights at the top was where we were a couple of nights before.

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