My last few days in Singapore were heavenly. Sunshine, fresh air, swimming, reading, relaxing, eating -- exactly as I wanted them to be.
We had Holly & Jeff over for dinner on Thursday night. I opted for a supremely un-Asian theme: MEXICAN! We feasted on steak tacos and spicy corn and pico de gallo and guac and assorted tropical fruits. John played barman and kept us in jolly spirits with top-notch margaritas all night; Jeff proved once again he can beat the pants off Betty Crocker by baking snickerdoodles for dessert. (For those of you not knowing what a snickerdoodle is, it's essentially a sugar cookie that is then rolled in cinnamon sugar. DIVINE. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.) Jeff is astoundingly good at baking cookies.
I don't know what it is, but the man knows his cookie. I dropped the hint the week prior while we were out, saying how long it had been and how much I missed them, and my reward was him showing up with a wad of fresh dough. Piping hot cookies fresh out of the oven. It really does not get any better. To attest to Jeff's talent, Holly and I are standing on the balcony raving about his cookies, and Holly's all dreamy and satisfied with herself and "I know, I know, my husband can bake. That's why I married him. No you can't have him. Fuck no. Those cookies are mine. Marry your own cookie maker." You can see why we get along so well.
Friday was a down day for me; I toyed with getting my Laos visa but by the time I got up it was too late to submit applications for the day.
So it was back to my book and lounging by the pool. Saturday morning John and I walked around his neighborhood; there's a path along the water that loops most of the island, makes for enjoyable house-admiring and neighbor-spying. It was fun. The breeze disappeared and the sun was out in full force, we were two sweaty buckaroos. So naturally after we passed the beach and came upon the nearby resort, we popped in for a champagne cocktail by the pool. And then had two. All Saturday mornings should be like that.
Saturday night I hit the town with Holly & Jeff. We were supposed to meet for a drink with some of their other friends, grab a bite, and make our way to some U2 cover band. We successfully nabbed numbers one and three, and somehow skipped the food bit.
The bar where we met was doing happy hour on bottles of wine until 8pm; seeing as we met at 7:30 this meant that we raced and ordered an OBSCENE number of bottles to make the 8pm deadline. And the bottles just kept coming. A few hours and twice as many sauvingnon blancs later, somebody decided it was time we roused ourselves for the concert. So off we went, to some random Irish pub in the "dodgy part of town," as Holly put it, for a U2 cover band that had its own opening act. (Since when do cover bands have opening acts?)
Let's just say that it's been awhile since I've been drunk. Give a girl a break. I'm traveling! There is no drunkenness while traveling; traveling requires one to have their wits about them at all times.
Yeah, well, seeing as I was safely cocooned in Singapore with good friends and no need to be on my guard, drunkenness it was. We had a BLAST. We danced and danced and danced, and then danced some more. Danced to whatever lame poppy songs the opening act deemed to play, danced to every single one of those U2 songs (with a lead singer who was trying -and failing- HARD to be Bono), and then danced some more. There were cocktails, Guinness droughts (I love me a Guinness drought, I tell you what), and candy sweet shots, Singapore style. I remembered I had a camera with me sometime during the shots enthusiasm, and so captured some happy sweaty drunk people, with shit-eating grins beaming across their faces. I managed to just beat the sunrise home, barely slept a wink, woke up with my ears ringing and my feet throbbing.
It was a good night. I was overdue in the debauchery department.
Sunday morning John took me to Raffles
for brunch. In Singapore, Raffles is an institution. Allow me to correct that. In ASIA, Raffles is an institution. For decades, when the posh elite and who's who vacationed in Asia, they stayed at Raffles. It used to be waterfront property, but given the immense land reclaiming Singapore's done in the past couple decades, it's now firmly smack downtown, no waterfront to speak of. No matter. It's beautiful. It's reminiscent of a massive plantation, very colonial and exuding class and wealth and charm.
Raffles's brunch is out of this world. Holy shitballs. Remember the breakfast spread I couldn't get my head around in Bangkok? Raffles makes that place look like it's for plebeians in comparison. Raffles's brunch spread is mind blowing, it is so decadent. It's sprawling, with two rooms and an outdoor terrace devoted to food, and the server-to-guest ratio is like 1:4. In other words, you are constantly being asked if you'd like more champagne, and having dirty dishes whisked away before you can push them aside and having delicacy after delicacy served on your plate. A juice bar, an egg bar, a lobster bar, two shellfish bars, a proscuitto bar, a carving station that ran the length of an entire room, a Mediterranean bar, a hot foods bar, a fruit bar, a salad bar, a soup bar, an enormous cheese bar that caused me to drool on myself, more breads and baked goods than I knew existed, and a dessert bar to end all dessert bars.
We sat directly next to an enormous Christmas tree, drunk on its delicious fresh pine scent, and practically licking ourselves as we tried to restrain the skip in our step as we sprinted to the eye-popping spread, again and again and again. I had five desserts (blueberry and lavender mouse with fresh raspberry coulis being the favorite, perfectly executed crème brulée coming in at a close second). I won't tell you how many cheeses I ate. Oh baby.
Sunday afternoon was spent napping, and Sunday night I met Holly & Jeff for one last drink before I left. Two other friends joined us for a beer, and we spent the evening talking about Singapore, "the land of can not-la," as H&J have dubbed it. "Can not," because Singapore's frustrations lie in that everything you want to do you are told you can not, and "la" because Singaporeans often end words with an arbitrary -la suffix.
Apparently it's for emphasis. I hadn't noticed, but H&J quip "la" after just about everything they say (which never ceases to crack me up), and I've since caught it here and there, like with taxi drivers and store clerks and the such. Funny.
For dinner we walked to a nearby hawker stand and I had my first Singaporean hawker food experience. Seeing as I don't eat meat and Holly is deathly allergic to nuts, Jeff (ever the gentleman) scampered off to different stalls to place the incomprehensible orders. (In Asia not eating meat or nuts is nearly sacrilege. People look at you and wonder what is wrong with you.) We had some sort of curried noodles, some random leafy green vegetable with chilies, and "carrot cake" which is in fact not carrot cake, nor does it involve carrots or cake.
It's basically an omelet with Asian radish and (sometimes, although not last night) seafood, like scallops. Reminded me of Korean food, conceptually, but tasted more Chinese (as did everything else). We rounded off our greasy street food with sugar cane juice. YUM. As if that isn't addicting. I could live on that stuff.
Eat, eat, eat, and eat, interspersed with swimming and drinking and reading. It was a terrific week. It was so hard to say goodbye. I cannot wait to be back. CANNOT-LA.