It’s all happening. First let me finish with Seoul. We spent Sunday morning with Bex having breakfast off her hill. And then, once she’d left for Borneo (I know, I know), we walked to the military memorial. Which was fab. Outside was a lovely commemoration to all of those who had died in the Korean War, plus a large display of tanks, planes and the odd warship (yes, that’s correct). They had a B52, which you may recall from watching the odd US war film as they bombed the begeezers out of everyone from Korea to Vietnam – and are now deployed to the Straits of Hormuz. Inside was a tasteful display of Korean military might … For me the floor that showed the details of the Korean War was the most informative and moving.
Singapore Airlines were efficient, if not as comfortable as Cathay Pacific, and we made it to Singapore mid-pm, took the metro to where Ollie and his fiancée, Faz, live (C’s nephew – he’s another teacher and she’s big in financial consultancy), and then we went out for the night.
Singapore. Well, what’s that about? Think the Isle of White proclaiming independence from the UK (Singapore from Malaysia). Think Canary Wharf on steroids. Think Swiss efficiency (the transport minister resigned last year because the metro messed about for a day), with German cleanliness. Think Crazy Rich Asians. Think the best bits of Manhattan combined with the best bits of Monaco. Think big, yet tasteful; tall, but slender. Think no chewing gum – it’s banned. And you have it.
Singapore used to be just a trading port. The southern apex of the trade route between India and China: the Gibraltar of south east Asia. Having snatched independence from Malaya (in the 60s?) it soon became a financial hub as well. And now it has decided that it wants to be a tourist destination to top the things it does well. The Marina Bay Hotel – you’ve got to see it to believe it – and the attached fabricated neon forest, is a draw of its own. The skyline, the old colonial buildings, the marina built on reclaimed land, the zoo, the high-end (and v expensive) shopping, the theme parks etc, etc, are all making it an attractive destination.
For the well off.
It is expensive. Alcohol is Norwayesque prohibitive. Eating out is not cheap. And I can’t tell you about the hotels as we were lucky and stayed with Ollie, but with limited real estate (there is no spare ground on the Isle of White/Singapore), I reckon they’re pricey.
But you won’t beat the skyline anywhere. So it might be worth the mortgage.
On Tuesday we walked and walked, met up with one of C’s girls for lunch, and then walked some more. We had a delightful Greek supper out with Ollie and Faz (thank you both so much for your generosity!) and then picked up a coach on Wednesday – for one-fifth the price of a CO2 busting airplane – and headed off to Kuala Lumpur.
More of KL next time. We’ve been here for two nights, are staying for a third and leave on Saturday for an adventure and a half. Again, more next time.
All I will say is that, again, we have been v fortunate in that the mum and dad of the girl we caught up with in Singapore are KL-based. And, (in their words), by way of paying C and I back for looking after their two girls for six years we have been royally looked after, hotel included. More later.
The weather? Low to mid-30s. Some rain. Hot and humid, but workable if you shade-hop and drink plenty of water. And backpacking? Well I carry mine and pull C’s – her pelvic floor isn’t what it used to be. So far we’ve managed well enough.
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