I think I made a blunder booking my ticket out of Singapore tomorrow afternoon. This city deserves a week’s exploration at the very least. A full day of meetings in the typical windowless hotel conference room was relieved by a trip to Clarke’s Quay for some Peppered Crab and Chili Lobster at Jumbo Seafood. A post-prandial stroll along the Singapore River revealed a massive riverside mall of trendy tapas bars and — horror of horrors — in the former Fleshpot of the Orient, an honest to god Hooter’s with waitresses in the ubiquitous orange gymshorts. I guess that’s why the water taxis are called bumboats.
The jet lag ain’t bad. Yet. So I strolled and strolled with my Australian-based colleague Patrick, and giving up on an interminable taxi line, we hit the subway for a ride back to Bugis where my hotel is located. Kind of weird walking around in bazillion degree heat and absolute humidity in a city devoid of trash and then boarding a space-age airconditioned subway. I did see one piece of trash, something pointed out to me by Patrick which made me make the excuse that it must have been a tourist.
Hard to describe this place without falling into travel writer clichedom. The first impression is the immense density and newness of the skyscrapers. Nothing feels old, not many vestiges of colonial architecture as there are in Chennai and Delhi, and even Raffles, the hotel named after the first British governor, Stamford Raffles, has been modernized out of whatever romantic notions of Singapore Slings, Pink Gins and those weird white pukha helmets I’ve always associated with the Disney vision of Singapore.
The seafood was amazing. I now know how to cook crab and lobster and isn’t by boiling them and serving them with melted butter. Black pepper and chili sauce rules. You have to get down and dirty with these things — Baltimore style. I did get a plastic bib — too late — after I exploded a crab joint all over my pink Brooks Brother shirt. Totally nuked myself. Hence this post is tagged under the “clamming” heading.
I wish I had decided to hang out for the weekend. Two nights in the InterContinental, a day and half in meetings, one night on the quays, a subway ride, and a cab to and from the airport does not a trip to Singapore make.