Goodbye to the Best Friends a Girl Could Have

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It’s time to go back to reality this morning, and it’s a different goodbye because I’m not boarding the plane with my gorgeous girlfriends.  Rather I will wait for my later flight, back home to the other side of Australia.  It’s been a fabulous couple of days and I’m so glad we had Singapore.  The perfect place for our time together.

Rest and Recouperation

Today neither of us feel very top quality at all.  We start the day with lunch at Brunetti and decide that instead of running around town investigating, we should probably just relax, so first port of call is OPI at The Forum, to get our nails done.  Then we jump in a cab, cause it’s raining, and head to ION Orchard to try some shopping – but our heads feel like balloons and the noise in the shopping centres is just making enjoyment of shopping impossible.  So back in the taxi and we head to Chinatown to seek out massages of some kind.

But first, we stop in at Da Dong (Fatty Weng) for a bowl of soul warming chicken and corn soup and a dish of the lemonyist Lemon Chicken ever (nicely so though).  I found Da Dong a few trips back but unfortunately the last couple of times I’ve been in Singapore, it has been closed, because of renovations occurring in Chinatown Food Street.  The works are all finished now though and Da Dong is back in operation.

Soup for the Soul
Soup for the Soul
Yummy!
Yummy!

Yummy tummy warming, soul good food.  The waiter walks us to the door and warns us to be careful because rain is on the way.  We walk through the newly renovated food street – it’s all sterile now, but I think they have retained its atmosphere.  I’ll have to dine here next time to make sure though.

Stopping into Kenko, we manage to book an appointment for our massages.  You couldn’t do that in Perth!  I go for an ear candling session which comes with a lymphatic drainage massage, which I’m hoping will clear my head up, because I’m sick of feeling like I have a balloon in my head.  Its relaxing in an odd non-relaxing kind of way, but I’m hoping this makes me feel better tomorrow.

After lunch we stroll through the sprinkling rain to Clarke Quay.  It’s raining again when we get there, and despite having grand plans for dinner, we end up eating an early dinner at SQUE on the wrong side of the Quay before heading home for an early  night.  A nice sleep will hopefully help us feel great tomorrow now we are all relaxed and massaged and manicured.

Heading Towards Home

Today its time to head home.

Now when I say heading home, well, we will be home in a few days and I didn’t want to tell you that we also have a few days in Singapore as well, because I always seem to be in Singapore and I didn’t want to bore you before I started. But I always try to do new things when I get here for my own interest anyway and its one of those places in the world where I feel at home so I want to know everything about it. Someday I’ll be able to say I’ve seen and done it all – surely?

So first up, we are staying in a different location, booking four nights at the Grand Park Orchard on Orchard Road. I’ve never stayed on Orchard Road before. I’m expecting, nay hoping, that it will have an electric buzz, that continues long after the shoppers have hauled their treasures home.

I was hoping to get to a few places that have been ‘on my list’ for some time now, plus showing Mum a couple of the new places I’ve found on the last few trips, but given we aren’t well, we’ll just see how we go.

Anyway, our hotel room is not quite ready so we pop out for some shopping and a bite to eat.  The first shop we come across is The Soup Spoon, and its menu board shows a chunky mushroom soup that looks purpose made for people with bad colds.  Its so thick and full of mushrooms and good for the soul.

Afterwards, I spy a Ya Kun Kaya Toast stall.  Here goes the first of one of those ‘on the list’ things.   Kaya toast is a popular breakfast item in Singapore. It consists of toast spread with a kind of jam made of coconut and eggs, called kaya, and either peanut spread or thick slabs of butter. I know it ain’t breakfast time, but if I don’t grab some now, I fear I’ll never try it. So here goes.

Full of peanutty goodness
Full of peanutty goodness

I’ve gone for the peanut spread and its actually really tasty – very sweet, but definitely tasty.  Don’t know why I waited so long to try it.

With still more time to fill in, the next stop is across the road at Japanese department store, Takashimaya – more specifically – Kinokuniya, my favourite bookshop.  I was introduced to Kinokuniya by my friend Emma when I visited her in KL last year, and now I am hooked.  Upon entering I feel giddy with the prospect of so much choice.  I don’t know where the start and I can’t seem to focus, my eyes darting from book to book as each cover catches my eyes.  It’s a wonderland of words.  I leave with five books, spying another on the way out – which I’ll just have to come back for tomorrow.  The thing about Kinokuniya is there is so much range and the prices are better than what you can buy books for at home.  The other thing, is that the topics of a lot of the books interest me far more – tales of Malaya past and modern day Japan and gritty KL.  Book subjects we don’t get at home.  Mum is wondering how the heck I’m going to get all these books in my luggage – she doesn’t know that I pack an extra bag for the way home – just for such bounties!

I like books - just a little bit!
I like books – just a little bit!

Now it’s time to check in.  The hotel is fairly new and our rooms looks out over the shopping metropolis of Orchard Road, lights blinking with the promise of new and exciting purchases.  We are feeling quite revived after our mushroom soup.  Or am I still high from my book shopping? I’m not sure.  So we get dressed and head on out into the evening.

Our room high above Orchard Road
Our room high above Orchard Road

So we head down to the Esplanade to see a small, but free, exhibition called Rotations – The Art of Tim Yip.  Tim (Timmy) Yip is foremost a renowned costume designer. Winning the Oscar for Best Art Direction and Costume Design in 2001 for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, he has also collaborated with other prominent film directors such as John Woo (Red Cliff), Feng Xiangang (The Banquet) and Chen Kaige (Farewell, My Concubine).

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Outside of film, he has also created stage and costume designs for dance and theatre. This exhibition pays tribute to his works of art with photographs, prints and a collage of videos, showcasing his visually arresting costume and set designs and his other works in fashion and theatre.

After the exhibition, we stop by Makansutra Glutton’s Bay for dinner – yet another place I haven’t made it to yet.  Funnily enough, Makansutra was on tv in Langkawi last night and we watched him eat his way through the backstreets of Penang.  I guess it made me more determined to try this place, this time around.  People jostle each other and shuffle from signboard to signboard selecting their fare for the night.  I decided on Roti John, a dish I have never had before, washed down with a big Tiger beer.  It was kind of a like a big bun filled with a fried egg and accompanied with a spicy chili sauce.  Pretty good!

Roti John
Roti John

Whilst I was lucky enough to see the Gardens by the Bay light show on my last trip, Mum hasn’t been to Singapore since the new garden was up and running, so that’s where we are heading. Plus, given I was on a tour last time, I didn’t get to wander around as freely as I would have liked. Given the youth of the gardens, the night air provides perfect cover to explore, safe from the burning sun.  The gardens don’t disappoint – and its still wondrous the second time around.  Catching the MRT back to Orchard Road, I’m glad that we have managed to fit in these few things this afternoon and can only hope we’ll feel better tomorrow.

Super Trees
Super Trees

Last Drinks

The other day from a taxi window, I saw a Cedele restaurant up high in Wheelock Place.  It looked like it would make a nice place for breakfast with a view and Cedele has a range of breakfast options,  including gluten free meals, so that’s where we decided to go to start the day.  The selection of food is amazing, and the food itself is ok, though Erin’s eggs look far from cooked.  But the view is the winner.

We spend a few hours browsing the shops and then I’m cheered up by the sight of The Hokkaido Ice Cream Company, who make my beloved black sesame ice cream.  I couldn’t talk Erin into it unfortunately, but I tell you – you gotta try it!

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We were aiming to dine at the food hall in Takashimaya, but unfortunately everyone else has the same idea and there’s no way we are getting a table, so we’ll have to choose somewhere else.  You may think much of my time in Singapore is about eating – and well, it is.  Singapore is a food lover’s paradise.  There’s nothing you can’t dine on here and celebrity chef, after celebrity chef has a restaurant here – Wolfgang Puck, Tetsuya, Luke Mangan, Joel Robuchon and Jamie Oliver!  And then there’s the hawker stalls, the snack bars, dessert bars open til 2am, the wet markets, the cake shops!  Chinese, Peranakan, Malay, Indian, French, Italian, Japanese, Australian, English, Irish, Russian!  It’s so hard to make a food decision, do you go for an awesome place you found last time or do you try something new in town.  And places change so quickly, what’s there today, might not be next month!  It’s food everywhere you look and it’s all good.  So you just end up eating all the time.

Crossing Orchard Road to shop at Somerset 313, is a restaurant lined approach to the ground floor of the mall.  It features a host of funky little eateries.  I’ve dined at Oriele a couple of times, but today we try JiBiru which is a Japanese beer house.  The waiter has obviously had a big night or has other things on his mind, cause he mixes up our beers (which normally wouldn’t be an issue except Erin is allergic to mango and that’s what he’s given her) and the set lunch he talks us into is not better value than what we were going to choose anyway.  The manager shakes his head as he proceeds to the next table to muck up their order also.

Just as well the beer is refreshing and my curry rice hits the spot.

Today the Singapore heat is back in full force and we’ve taken about half a dozen steps before we are sweating like pigs.  With the countdown to our flight beginning, it’s time to head back to the hotel.  Slowly.  Very slowly.

Normally taxi rides in Singapore aren’t an issue,  but today (and just because my puffy red eyes are still making me feel like crap), its about to be.  A flash looking taxi arrives in the hotel driveway and the bellhop goes over to him, chatting in some language I don’t understand,  before motioning us into it.  Wary of the fancy taxi and the fact I’m on the last of my holiday dollars, I ask the bellhop whether the taxi will cost more.   “Oh no”, he assures me “maybe $20/$25 max”.  Well that is more than the $15/$20 we usually pay to get between the airport and most city hotels, but it’s the last day, so what the heck.

Arriving at the airport, you can imagine my surprise when the driver says “that’ll be $33, but we’ll just round that up to $35.  It’s not that much difference!”  Um, yes.  Actually, it is.  “It might not be to you, but we’ve just paid double what we normally do!”  I huffed at him.  “It’s all good”.  No, no its not and your taxi company will be finding out about it when I get home!

Thank goodness for…

The Butterfly Garden

I guess most people who have visited Changi will know about its gardens.  In all my travels through, to and from Singapore,  I’ve never actually stopped to have a look myself.   So today I’m going to change that with a trip to the Butterfly Garden.  There are all sorts of stunning butterflies making their home here – and an abundance of children chasing them around.  I’m sorry but parents – WTF?

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Their colourful little wings flit open and closed as they hop from leaf to stamen, seemingly without a care in the world, except for the trail of children chasing them.   Anyway, there is also an amazing orchid garden and a cactus garden hidden within the confines of this fine airport, so they’ll be for checking out next time.

I can’t believe it’s time to leave Singapore again.  I say it every time.  I know.  There’s so much more to do here and frankly I’m not sure I’ll ever do and see it all.  But I’ve had such an amazing trip and thankfully I know I’ll be back soon enough.

Henna, Mosques and Transvestites

Legend has it that Singapore was founded by a Sumatran Prince who visited the island of Temasek.  He saw a strange animal which was believed to be a lion and this prompted the prince to found a city on the spot which he named Singapura (Lion City).

In 1822 and to ease the chaotic and disorganised island, Sir Stamford Raffles created a “Town  Plan”, which allocated different areas of the city to the different ethnic groups:  the Europeans were granted land to the northeast of the government offices (today’s Colonial District), the Chinese predominated the area around the mouth and to the southwest of the Singapore River, the Indians were, and are still, largely housed in Kampong Kapor and around Serangoon Road and Kampong Glam was allocated to the Malays, Bugis and Arabs.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Chinatown and the Colonial Districts over the years, not that I’d been keen enough to say I’d seen even half of it, but today I want to get stuck into Little India and Kampong Glam, also known as the Arab Quarter.  So after breakfast across the road at Raffles City (breakfast omelette and fresh watermelon juice – yum!), we are ready for the assault on our senses.

Breakfast Omelette and Watermelon Juice

I’ve made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to spend time in Little India.  I really want to love it, but it overwhelms me and that has always felt to me a bad thing.  I’m going to spend some decent time here today if it kills me.  It seems quieter here today than on previous visits.  No hectic buzz, no thumping Bollywood.  Little India seems to be asleep, and I like this new introduction.  The first stop is Tekka Market.

Parrot astrology is a tradition brought to Singapore by the ethnic Indian community from the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.  In the old days, Singaporeans went to seers for psychic help in their daily lives, whether it be for determining auspicious dates, to finding a lifelong partner or simply checking on one’s luck.  The parrot astrologer’s reading of the fortune cards was taken as valuable advice.

Unfortunately the parrot astrologers are a dying breed.  In fact, there are only two parrot astrologers left in all of Singapore.  But we walk around Tekka Market twice and we can’t see one, which is unfortunate because we were looking forward to some guidance for the new year.  For those lucky enough to locate a fortune teller, a S$5 fee gets you a card reading session which lasts anywhere from 15-30 minutes. Depending on your beliefs, you could get an intriguing glimpse of the future — or at the very least, a memorable travel experience.

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Tekka Market/Centre
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Dried goods
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Sweets stall

Walking around Tekka, there’s all sorts of colours, smells and sights.  Rows of gold bracelets, intricately designed, catch your eye as you walk past.  There are sweet shops, swathes of colourful, delicate fabrics, the wet market, food stalls and henna shops.  Breathe it all in and enjoy.

When you come across one of the henna tattoo stalls, stop on in.  $5 gets you a stunning design on the body part of your choice – just remember not to rub it against anything for 20 minutes or you’ll end up with a smudgy stain instead of a stunning piece of artwork.  There’s books of designs to choose from or you can let them have free range.  I’m surprised at how quickly the design appears on my hand, and can’t wait until the crust layer flakes off to reveal the burnt orange temporary tattoo.

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Imagine a shop that is open 24 hours a day, that sells everything your heart desires.  Such a place exists in Little India and its called the Mustafa Centre.  Floor upon floor of books, clothes, food, art supplies, décor, luggage – you name it, you will find it here.  Of course, it’s not anything like the flashy, sterile malls of Orchard Road, and it can be rather overwhelming if you let it.  But just pretend the walls aren’t closing in on you and browse in wonderment.

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Just outside Mustafa we come across an Indian Restaurant with a four star table rating, and given our stomachs are telling us its time to eat, in we go.  The service is swift at the Copper Chimney and soon Pakoras, Chicken Murghlai, rice and naan soon adorn our table, washed down nicely with glasses of wine.

Paneer Pakora

In Malay, the word “Kampung” means “village or settlement” and  “Glam” is the name of a particular tree, which grew in abundance in  the area in early Singapore.  Kampong Glam began its life as a fishing village at the mouth of the Rochor River.  Today it is one of Singapore’s ethnic district and retains a strong Malay-Arab influence.  As trade flourished, Farquhar preferred the business quarter to be centered here at Kampong Glam. Rough justice, robberies, street brawls and stabbings  were common.  We’re not looking for any trouble today, but we are keen to find the Sultan Mosque.

Its begun to rain while we were filling our stomachs so we decide to take a cab.  The driver isn’t sure what we’re talking about, but takes us in the direction I’ve shown him on the street map.  “Ahhhh” he says when we get there – must be known as something else locally.  I’ll have to find out.

Located along North Bridge Road, Sultan mosque is considered one of the most important in Singapore.  Its a striking building, its golden domes dominating the skyline and its truly a focal point of the muslim community in Singapore.  It has essentially remained unchanged since it was built and was named a national monument in 1975.

Visitors can feel free to enter the mosque which is open 24 hours a day, but of course you will need to remember to remove your shoes and dress appropriately.

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Walking along the streets, the main thing I notice is the abundance of fabric shops.  Not just any old fabric shops, but stunning colours, unusual fabrics, beautiful combinations of lace and satin.  If you wanted a special outfit to be made, I can imagine this would be the place to come.

Bussorah Street is a shophouse-lined alley which leads to the back of Sultan Mosque.  A mish mash of shops, including an intriguing little toy museum (who’s owner felt relaxed enough to nap while we browsed), it’s a quaint little area and I can’t believe it has taken me so long to make it here!  There’s also several restaurants which look ripe for picking on my next trip back.

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Haji Lane is a funky little alley that’s been around for a while, regularly touted as the cool place to shop if you want something different.  Brightly coloured pre-war shop houses stock vintage clothing, jewelry and knick-knacks and there’s also several places to stop for a glass of wine, which is what we did.  I’d love to come back here and spend some time browsing the goods – can you see how my trips to Singapore become so busy each and every time I come back!

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Hi, can I have an, um, er, Tiger beer?
Hi, can I have an, um, er, Tiger beer?

In the 1950’s Bugis Street was a night owl.  Known worldwide for its flamboyant transvestites, who would parade themselves amongst the visiting sailors and military personnel.  The entire street would come alive, as vendors plied their wares, exotic street food and cheap goods.  More recently it’s been transformed into another one of Singapore’s retail shopping locations and houses Bugis Village, which is a quaint little shopping quarter characterised by an outer mall filled with shopping cart vendors.  There are no transvestites around.

I’ve really loved our cultural wanderings today – and we were lucky the weather made it so comfortable to do so.  I am so glad to have finally enjoyed wandering around Little India.  I’m so glad I gave it yet another chance and I’m excited that it has now widened my area of enjoyment for Singapore, with a whole host of new restaurants and venues to check out next time!  And I know where to come for beautiful gold jewelry.

Done with our wanderings for the day, we decide to head to Boat Quay for dinner, but we wander around aimlessly trying to find something to whet our appetites, at one point taking a table and then up and leaving when the menu didn’t present any shout out dishes.  For some reason, all I can smell tonight is cigarettes and, together with my weeping eyes, I feel just awful.  At the junction of Boat and Clarke Quays, we come across a police tent, cordoned off next to the river.  This is something I’ve never seen in Singapore before and I get the feeling there’s a body under that tent.  I’m sure the news will reveal the story in the morning.  We have just about exhausted the restaurants in Clarke Quay too, until we slide into a corner booth at Fern and Kiwi.  We are still unsure exactly what it is we are looking for, but this place has quite an extensive array of choices, so we should be able to find something here, and it appears in the form of a pizza, followed by chips and copious amounts of wine and singing.

Panda Eyes

Wow!  What an awesome night last night.  Awakening to the first day of 2014, I wonder what the year has in store for me.  I have two more trips planned for this year and I’m incredibly excited for them.  And I know that they’ll mean more personal growth, more confidence, more gaping in awe at incredible sights, more photos and many, many happy memories.  Travelling has become such an important part of my life over the last couple of years.  Looking back – I can’t believe how far I have come.  My first overseas trips ever by myself – such an incredible achievement for a shy girl who panics about everything.  I couldn’t have wished for more for my life and am so glad I took the plunge.  Travel awakens everything in you – your soul, your empathy, your understanding of human nature.  Like my favourite quote of this year says – travel is the only thing you buy which makes you richer.

Anyway, thankfully I am not suffering from the worst hangover ever today, but I could be alone in that category.  Being a planner – I pre-empted a bunch of sore heads with a mammoth craving for comfort food would be the order of the day and made a booking a House, out at Dempsey Hill.  Dempsey Hill used to house the Central Manpower Base of Singapore and the former British army barracks.  This is where many young Singaporean men reported for their national service.

Housed in an old army barracks, House is funky.  It’s an open plan restaurant, overlooking dense greenery.  It’s amazingly close to Orchard Road, but far away enough, and in lush enough surroundings to think you’ve escaped the city for the day.  The four of us pour over the menu, choosing burgers and fries and big breakfasts – and wonderfully refreshing cleansing juices, and a little bite of shared dessert.  The service is a little slow, but the surroundings and food make up for it.  There’s a whole bunch of restaurants out here, and it’s definitely one of those places to come back to.

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Banana Cake with Coffee Salt

Fully fed and arriving back ‘in town’, we split up for a while – Leigh and Mike to nap and pack for their departure in the early hours of the morning, and Erin and I in desperate need of a foot massage.  We head to Chinatown and find a little place we can just walk in off the street.  Half an hour later, and surprised at how quickly I fell asleep, our feet are refreshed.  We head over to Clarke Quay to grab some lunch, which consists of a glass of wine due to unusually slow service and our lack of time to sit and wait and then take a cab over to Leigh and Mike’s hotel to pick them up for our next adventure.

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Great idea – if only it worked…

We are heading to the River Safari.  Newly opened just months ago, the River Safari is based on the same format as the Night Safari.  For those who haven’t been – a little tram runs through all the plains/jungles of the world, checking out the animals.  The zoo is different in that whilst the animals are effectively still caged into their zones, there are ditches between them and the tram route – so it looks for all intents and purposes as though you are just travelling through an African Savannah.  It’s really quite amazing and I’ve been about four times now.  The River Safari though, is based on the great river systems of the world.  A boat rather than a tram, is supposed to traverse the rivers for your journey.  And here is where our first problem starts.  We booked tickets online – having waited to ensure the boat was up and running before booking.  When we got to the Safari, the boat ride was already booked.  So even though you have booked a ticket on line – you still have to arrive early in the morning to separately secure your boat ride.  Which is just ridiculous!

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We were so disappointed.  We walked around the park, but it was really quite uninspiring.  The spider monkeys were cool but I guess the big draw card is the pandas – which I love.  Again, it was a little disappointing as only one of the pandas was on display, but at least I got to see one.

Panda Exhibit 2

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The staff tried to say that the boat ride wasn’t integral to the experience, but I thought the zoo was a sad let down without it.  It’s certainly not a patch on the Night Safari and I wouldn’t recommend it.  But don’t take my word for it because I have the beginnings of an eye infection and am feeling incredibly grumpy and hideous, so I could be biased (too much glitter in my eyes?).

Leigh and Mike had tickets to the Night Safari, being their first trip and I readily assured them that it would be a million times better than the River Safari.  We hugged them goodbye, wishing them well for their forward travels to Vietnam.  The last couple of days have gone so quickly and I’m going to miss them so much, but I am so excited for them and wish them well with a million hugs.

Erin and I head back to the hotel with a hankering for Ramen.  We’d googled all sorts of ramen restaurants in the taxi back to the hotel in order to try and find the best one, but in the end, we settled for the one across the road from the hotel at Raffles City.  And that was without realizing how many different ramen dishes there are to choose from!  We ogled the menu over and over again before choosing one and a beer to wash it down with.   And it was a good choice – so amazing and just what we wanted!

I drift off to sleep that night hoping the Night Safari had weaved its magic for Leigh and Mike and that their trip to Vietnam would be magical and they would get to know the excitement of travel as I do.

Countdown to the New Year

Breakfast commences at TCC, which is a bit of a staple for my visits.  They are always open early and always have a good menu with healthy options and an endless list of juices, teas and coffees.  This morning they are playing an awesome mix of Christmas carols and its going down a treat.

We decide to head to Chinatown to check out the markets.  We cruise around the streets, trying to find a massage, unsuccessfully, but we do find beer – cheap.  Blinded by the sign that says $6 beers, being used to paying double that in most places, we head inside the Chinatown Seafood Restaurant and order beers, not expecting the king browns that arrived at our table.  Erin and I sit, watching the passersby, chattering on about this and that.  Enjoying life.

I stop by a little stall to make a purchase of something that is near and dear to those in Chinatown – bakkwa.  These sheets of salty sweet dried meat, similar to jerky, glisten in the shop windows, as the shopkeepers shout out to attract passing trade.  I grab a few sheets for our pre-drinks this evening, fully knowing it will probably just be me and Mike who chow down on this Hokkien delicacy.  But when in Rome!….

We get down to business when we return to the hotel, primping and preening.  Getting ready for the biggest night of the year.  Leigh and Mike arrive at our hotel and we crack open the champagne to start the night off.  We gabble away, enjoying a few drinks that Erin and I had pre-purchased during the afternoon, pre-empting that we would be up for some expensive drinks once we headed out.  We put on our 2014 glasses and glittery top hats and quickly settle into party mode.

NYE

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I spent a lot of time scouring the internet to try and find somewhere for us to spend New Years Eve.  I wanted something special.  Somewhere close to our hotels in case we couldn’t get a cab, somewhere that didn’t cost a fortune.  Somewhere we could have a meal and some drinks, but where we could still dance.  Somewhere with a view of the fireworks but that didn’t cost a fortune.  The Fullerton was charging $100 just to view the fireworks with a glass of champagne.  Kudeta would have had the best view in town, but the menu was dominated by seafood, which wouldn’t have suited half our party.  Orgo was putting on a great spread – a 12 course banquet with free flow of cocktails and the view would have been spectactular.  It was great value at $300 per head, if we weren’t on holidays and hoping to do anything else!  Plenty of hotels had special meals on – but where was the view?  Finally, the perfect place presented itself – Loof.  Loof was one of those places “I had been meaning to get to for ages” (say it with me now!).  It was Singapore’s first roof top bar (hence the name Loof/roof) and they were hosting an evening of lancing (yep, dancing) for New Years.  There was no set menu – though you could pre-order food and drinks if you liked – and no hefty entrance fee.  And it was just around the corner from Erin and my hotel, across the road from the Raffles Hotel, so it would have a partial view of the fireworks.  Perfect.

We leave our hotel room, nicely merry already and head a few buildings down the street to Loof.  We are given our entry wristbands and the host radios our arrival to the party upstairs.  We are escorted into the lift and upstairs to Loof, where our host for the evening exhuberantly introduces himself and guides us to our table, which is near the edge of the loof, I mean roof – set for a perfect view of the fireworks later in the evening.  He takes our drink orders and our pre-ordered snacks come smartly out to our table.  Loof sure know how to make a girl feel special!  I order a Gummi Berri, which comes with a two inch thick layer of marshmallow on top!  Our tables play host to little party bags containing all sorts of clickers, blowers and whistles ready to usher in the new year.

The food is fantastic -mini sliders, san choy bow, loof flies (yes, fries) with truffle sauce and kong bak pau- and our drinks are just divine.  They were satisfying and plentiful and best of all – we didn’t need to leave our chairs to order more!

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The DJ was great and we grooved and sang our hearts out, often fitting our own songs into his mix.

All too soon, the countdown is commencing and the fireworks explode against the night sky.  We can see half of them, but it’s enough to be spectacular.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m away from home experiencing New Years but I’m having a ball.  It’s probably because I’m with a beautiful group of people I love to pieces, and who mean so much to me, and I’m so happy that I’m here in this moment with them.

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Night over, we walk the brief walk back to the hotel.  Erin does the sensible thing, calls it quits and heads to bed but I can tell Mike is still full of steam, and I have no reason to be a piker, so we indulge and head across the road to Chjimes.  Insomnia is open and we are hungry.  We order pizza and sing our hearts out to the cover band playing Guns n Roses inside, much to the dismay of those listening!  Stomach’s full, the night winds to an end and we head off to find the solace of sleep and dreams of what will be for the year ahead.

Cheers – to the best New Years Eve ever and the year ahead to come!