A man entering our room before 08:00 woke us both up. However, we both stayed put and didn't emerge from Hotel Grand Central until noon. We made a plan prior to leaving and armed with cameras we went off towards the CBD and beyond to Chinatown. At the first available opportunity we walked into a bank and bought USD 1,000 for our next months travel. Our route took us through Fort Canning Park where a small gecko sat on the path and appeared to be a bit sqaushed and without part of his tail, until I poked him with a leaf and he ran away. The other side of the park we found some camera shops and made the same enquiries as yesterday. We slowly progressed to the CBD and had lunch by the Singapore river. Ian braved a hot plate meal for which he received a raw salmon fillet which was placed on, literally, a hot plate. He was to then control the cooking process of his dinner. Still, he wasn't fazed although he did have to ask me if I thought he ought to turn it now, a few times. His accompanying 'free flow' of lemonade was not so free flowing as it should have been and I had to step in to remind the waiter that Ian's drink had not yet arrived at our table.
At the Merlion statue at the mouth of the Singapore river we witnessed a group of Japanese men and women who positioned themselves in front of the statue. One of them then approached Ian and asked him to take a photograph of the group. Ian, bless him, immediately pointed at me suggesting that I would like to help them out. I took a photograph then I was asked to take another, and another... They were grateful 'though.
Our route continued to Suntec mall where reportedly the largest fountain in the world stands. Arriving at the fountain terrace it soon became apparent, by the lack of spray and corresponding noise, that the fountain was inoperative due to maintenance. But at least I discovered that I was born during the Chinese year of the snake, and the description of said year I considered to be fairly accurate, and that of my brother who was born during the Chinese year of the rabbit. The fountain was disappointing 'though.
Our next stop was to take high tea in the Bar and Billiard Room at Raffles Hotel. What a wonderful choice. The service was naturally good and attentive. It was a buffet offering and very extensive. Ian and I were in awe glancing over the selection of expertly prepared foods. I think we both returned to the buffet table four or five times, each visit being accompanied by bottomless coffee and freshly brewed tea. Before we left I got up to use the facilities and having already ascertained where they were I made my way towards the stairs leading to them. As I approached the stairs a waiter, exceptionally discreetly, whispered 'restroom, downstairs ma'am' which I considered to be of excellent service. He was so discreet and professional.
Chinatown was much like Little India and we had a brief stroll around. The elaborately decorated, very colourful Sri Mariamman Hindu temple was most worthy of a photograph.
As we made our way back to Orchard Road we began to bypass Fort Canning Park only to then be drawn in to it by the sound of Coldplay obviously coming from a quality PA system. As we approached the stage from behind I half expected to see Chris Martin and company doing a soundcheck with the absence of an audience. I was a bit disappointed to find that they weren't present but not surprised.
Back in Orchard Road we paused in Starbucks Coffee for another mug of hot chocolate before spending time in a cyber cafe and making progress on typing up our journals. It felt like we had walked a long, long way today.
Copyright 2003 Helen Fuller. All rights reserved.