On a very cold New Jersey afternoon, I dropped my Mini Cooper off with my friend, Beverley, who, along with her partner Paul, will be taking good care of it while I’m in India. It was spitting a bit of rain and I had to stop briefly at the Princeton Mini Dealer to check on a low tire light, but other than that, it was a nice drive through the country side into Pennsylvania.
Beverley and Paul took me to the airport where I met up with my sister, Jacquie, for a quick bite to eat before my flight. We went to Chili’s, one of the only restaurants in the Newark airport available before going through security and when I say it was a quick bite, I’m not exaggerating! We ordered coffee and were told by the waiter that we could have coffee at Starbuck’s or Dunkin’ Donuts in the lower level. So, I told him I’d have a Latte from Starbuck’s and then we both laughed … my sister and I; not the waiter … at least not until a beat later. It seems that Chili’s coffee machine was broken, which, in retrospect, was probably a good thing, given our next experience! So, we both ordered the Caesar salad, and after only a moment of deliberation, decided it was the worst Caesar we’ve ever tasted. Instead of Romaine, they actually used limp Iceberg lettuce so drenched in some kind of odd tasting sauce that it was rather inedible. So, after announcing that to the waiter, he removed our plates and was kind enough to also remove the charge from our bill. So, we had a good chat, but not much in the way of sustenance!
My flight on Singapore Airlines was good. I slept quite a bit, but that long in the air (about 19 hours) does take something out of you. I arrived in Singapore at 6:30 a.m. two days later and met up with my colleague, Tracy’s parents, Liz and Albert. I had a 12 hour layover before my flight to Kochi, and they were kind enough to pick me up at the airport and show me around the city. They took me back to their beautiful apartment to freshen up and then we were off for a wonderful traditional Singapore breakfast of kaya toast and rich, dark coffee. We went to Killeney’s, renowned for their kaya and where the establishment roasts their own coffee beans.
Kaya is a coconut cream spread made with eggs, coconut milk, sugar and pandan leaves (a tropical plant cultivated in Southeast Asia). They put the spread on crunchy toast with a thin slab of cold butter between the slices. It oozes out all over the place, but is absolutely divine. Anyway, it was a day of eating, because not too long after that, we went to lunch at the Singapore Cricket Club; very posh!
In the afternoon, we toured the SkyPark at the top of the Marina Bay Sands casino and hotel. The rooftop deck on the 57th floor is shaped like a ship. It has large palm trees planted along a garden and an infinity pool overlooking the Port of Singapore. Rather amazing! The view was incredible and it was pretty scary seeing the hotel guests lounging in the pool, on the brink of infinity, with their backs to the edge of the sky!
To get to the hotel and enter the SkyPark from the parking garage, they have conveniently made it necessary to walk through the Shoppes at the Marina Bay Sands. Exclusive shop(pes) mind you, featuring luxuries and haute couture from designers like Prada, ROLEX, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, FENDI and my personal favorite, Armani.
We didn’t go into the casino, as Singaporeans can’t get in without paying a S$100 fee, which they don’t get back. So, think about it … they go to gamble and begin already S$100 behind. I guess the casino wants to attract tourists, without corrupting the locals, or, as my friend Mark always says about tourists in Vegas, “Thanks for contributing to the local economy.”
It was a fantastic day in a truly beautiful city lush with beautiful flowers and trees reaching to the heavens. The most amazing Banyan trees lined the roadways and the city was breathtakingly green and amazingly clean. There was a wonderful rain storm that came crashing through when we were in Liz and Albert’s apartment in the late afternoon that you would have sworn was there to stay awhile, but it passed on through pretty quickly. No wonder everything was so rich and verdant.
Liz and Albert have invited me back and I look forward to seeing the botanical gardens and some of the other interesting places that make Singapore so vibrant.