‘Bring wine!’ the SOS message pops up from my mum. Next text: ‘It’s very expensive to drink here’. Mum had been told by a shop owner, ‘It’s very expensive to be an alcoholic in Singapore’. Her words had obviously instilled mum with a gnawing sense of fear, hence the emergency text messages. I don’t know where mum expected me to find this mysteriously decent priced wine between the arrivals lounge of Changi Airport and our hotel in Chinatown but I gave it my best shot. Sadly, Duty Free was not the cheap wine mecca I was hoping for so I opted to spend my $40 Changi dollars, (courtesy of Singapore Airlines for transiting through Singapore) towards a bottle of Moet. I figured if it’s expensive anyway, you might as well make sure it’s delicious too.
Once I was reunited with mother dear at the wonderful boutique hotel The Scarlet (Mum was paying so I enjoyed it even more), we set out to the nearby Club Street for a tipple. Mother informed me it was one of the hippest places in town and it certainly was very cool, with lots of trendy bars and rooftop venues. It also seemed to be one of the priciest places in town. Perusing one menu we spotted wine for $30. I thought ‘well that’s not too bad at all for a bottle’, then I realised that was for a glass. I wanted to tell them in my most Aussie accent: “I could buy a whole cask for that much!” then turn on my rubber soled thong-ed feet and saunter off. Nevertheless, we persevered and managed to find a bar called Drinks & Co. They have a happy hour from opening until 8pm and wine was $10 a glass. Having just come from Vietnam, where everything is cheap as chips, 10 smackers still seemed pretty steep but I had been spoiled by $1 dollar beer in Vietnam, so I sucked it up.
After our afternoon wines we made our way to Chinatown to try the world famous Singapore chilli crab. Adorned in our fashionable and practical plastic gloves we cracked into the crab with gusto in an attempt to seize as much crabby flesh as possible. To be honest, it was a bit of a task, and I was pretty hungry afterwards as it was actually quite difficult to extract the meat when you are not particularly skilled with a set of crab tongs. However, the taste was delicious so if I could pay someone to do it for me I would be very keen to try it again. However, as it is Singapore, paying someone to do it for me would probably be so expensive I’d have to set up a payment plan with the restaurant.
The following day after a busy time boating around Clarke Quay and strolling down Arab Street, we made our way to the night zoo in the afternoon. We had pre-organised a tour for the occasion, which also included dinner. I decided a wine might be nice to accompany our dinner so off I headed to the bar. Thirty five dollars later I arrived back at the table with two glasses of the cheapest wine the Singapore night zoo had to offer. Nevertheless, the zoo was fantastic fun. Motoring around on our open air shuttle bus we enjoyed the open enclosures filled with lions, rhinos, bears, otters and a lone sloth. Well worth a visit when in town.
On Sunday it was Mother’s Day and we spent it exploring the magnificently colourful Botanical Gardens. However, the heat had us wilting like un-watered flowers in no time so we took the opportunity to buy a beer from the convenient store and pulled a park bench to share our purchase. Budget didn’t spread to one each. Whilst we savoured the cooling liquid flowing down our throats the sky opened up into a sun shower of beautifully cooling beads. We embraced the small window of escape from the oppressive heat.
That night Mum and I cracked the Moet, finished it in record breaking time, decided if we could afford to drink Moet all the time, we wouldn’t bother with water or any other boring beverage ever again, and then made our way out to dinner at Boat Quay. We chose an Indian restaurant and took our seats right beside the river, looking over towards the regal Fullerton Hotel. There is quite an array of eating establishments on this side of the river so you are never sparse on choice.
A few hours later we waddled our way to the nearest cab and told our driver to take us to the Gardens by the Bay. I had read about the light show of the Supertree Grove that is on nightly, and was very interested to see it. I was not disappointed. Pulsating colourful lights danced in front of my eyes to the tune of the Blue Danube. I was in awe, I was enchanted, I was drawn into a magical fantasy world. However, I’d also had a few wines so best to check it out in the sober light of night for yourself.
Our final day in Singapore was truly the Grand Finale: high tea at Raffles. That’s right, Moet the night before, high tea at Raffles the next day… just a day in the life darling. In all its colonial elegance, Raffles is truly exquisite and hosts a high tea to beat all others. At around 60SGD (approx. $60 AUD) per person it’s not the cheapest entertainment you can find but it’s worth it. The attentive service makes you feel like royalty, the white linen is impeccable, and the lady melodiously playing the harp cinches it all together to form the finest high tea in all the land. I haven’t even started on the food: little finger sandwiches, petite cakes, moist scones with fresh jam, dumplings with a variety of fillings, flaky savoury pastries, and delicious bread and butter pudding. Wash it all down with a selection of hot or iced teas. Or a flute of bubbles.
After dining like royalty, Mum and I headed over to Raffles’ Long Bar for an iconic Singapore Sling, and to throw some peanut shells on the floor. Each table of this charming bar is furnished with its very own bag of peanuts for snacking and tossing. It’s simply a must when in Singapore. You might want to fill up on those free peanuts though as the Singapore Slings cost $36 SGD a pop.
Singapore is the perfect place for a stopover holiday as there is plenty to do and see, and with it’s intense humidity, your skin will be shining after a few days as it’s like being in a constant sauna. As Mum and I l flew home after our mini break our minds overflowed with fun memories, our hearts filled with love for the city, and our bellies stretched with too many cakes and finger sandwiches. The only thing that felt lighter was our wallets