Asian Travels - Singapore (2010)
When we eventually came to the Singapore causeway border control we took the opportunity of using their pristine toilets, before having our packs ceremoniously x-rayed and our passports stamped. Arriving in Singapore we find no taxis at the rank and none willing to stop on the road until one poor chap takes pity on us and agrees to take us to our hotel. On route, the taxi driver was curious to know whether we were aware that our chosen hotel the Orchid 81 at 21 Lorong 8 Geylang (A$46/night) was right in the middle of Singapore's 'Red Light' district - we just looked at each other and laughed. Our room was so small, it was a mystery how they could have got the double bed installed - but it was only for a night so what the heck and as it was nearly midnight when we went to bed; we didn't care. I had chosen this district as it was on the train line to Changi airport and only two MRT stops from Bugis Street and its associated markets.
Maria inspects the quality at one of the many stalls selling the pungent Durian fruit
After an understandably late start, I negotiated with the hotel to store our bags for the day while we went out and explored the town. We decided on a Day Tourist Pass on the very slick Singapore MTR (metro system) excellent decision and cost only A$8 each. We went first to the markets at Bugis Street and while mucking about here (more T shirts) I discovered Alfred Street now Alfred Mall and then if we did not discover that Fatty's Restaurant (175 Bencoolen Street) was still going and so we booked in for lunch later that day. We then trained it over to Orchard Road to oggle at the 'AB Demographic' shopping for alligator skin handbags, furs, Gucci stockings and Versace handkerchiefs.
Maria began to believe she had joined the 'AB Demographic' while in Orchard Road
However, the highlight was lunch at Fatty's. Now sister Diana had first told me about this place in the late 1970s and we took the kids and Gil and June Tutty there in 1980 for a fabulous night of Chilli Crab when the pints of cold beer had to be sourced from somewhere across the road; viz:
The place was then run by his father, although it has been operating in Alfred Street since 1936. I re-told the story of our earlier acquaintance with the place to the present owner who seemed genuinely touched and went back into the kitchen so that his cooks could come out and view this ancient couple from the antipodes. He told us that he had many customers amongst Australia's military personnel and I queried him about a rowdy table of Australian men in another part of the restaurant. He explained that his establishment was also popular with QANTAS crew and that the table in question was the crew of a plane just in from London on a little 'wind down'. Had a great lunch of chilli crab and some stir-fried vegetables plus some amazingly good Chinese Beer called Tsingtao made in Qingdao.
After lunch we made another last attempt to purchase Maria's particular sort of mah jong set to no avail. Back to the hotel, picked up the bags and went to the airport to prepare for the flight home.
Shagged out at Changi airport (NB the 'cerebral' carpet pattern designed, no doubt, to keep all passengers focussed on the journey ahead of them)
Got into Brisbane just before 0600 hours and after declaring some of our condiments to HM Customs we had our Vietnamese pepper confiscated for weevil infestation but the rest of the stuff made it through. Rushed over to the domestic terminal via the Sky train at an outrageous cost of $5 each only to join a queue for our Tiger flight to Rockhampton. It was here that we met up with Neil McDonald (a long-time mate of Harry Stapleton's whom we have got to know rather well) who was travelling up on the same plane and going to the Yeppoon races the following day. We offered him a lift and a bed when we arrived home.
The very last leg up to Rocky
Got home at about 1130hours a little buggered but very pleased to have survived the rigours without any major mishap and what's more to have lost a further 1.5kg - amazing what a good Asian scouring can do for you!
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