Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Singapore Slung Out

We have taken a couple of days out in Singapore in order to break up the long haul back to England. From what we've seen so far the Singaporean people seem to be a cosmopolitan mix of races and beliefs who happily get along, love their technology and are happy to make a dollar. They have also embraced many elements of their collonial past, none moreso than the Raffles Hotel and the Singapore Cricket Club.

The SCC occupies a prime chunk of riverside real estate (the original planners obviously had clear priorities) and the typical English pavillion looks strangely out of place amongst the exotic, creeper covered trees. As we passed we saw a game was about to start so we entered through a side gate, by-passed the members' area and took a seat in the 'public' area with the players and spectators.

It was pretty busy but we found a spot next to a lunching ex-pat and set about arranging a couple of cold drinks. A short time passed before we attracted a waiter who, on taking our order, asked us for our coupons. Naturally, we had none but were told we could get them from reception. I was pointed to the members' bar, which was located in the late 19th century. I could have looked more out of place walking through in my shorts and flip flops but unfortunately I'd left my suit of armour at the hotel.

On reaching reception it was made very clear that the Singapore Cricket Club was members only and that it would be best for all concerned if we abandonned our hopes of watching today's game. I said I'd break the news to Vic and made my walk of shame back through the G&T-sipping retired Majors. How I longed for the anonimity that a good suit of armour brings...

Plan B became to get the hell out of there before we got thrown out. Little did I know that in my absence Vic had been chatting to our table made and our non-status had been identified as a problem. Luckily Mary was an SCC member and was happy to sign us in. We made our way together on the now familiar journey to main reception. The look on the receptionist's face was a treat; a rapid flux of deference and confusion with a hint of thwarted malevolence thrown in. (Go on, try to picture it.) My new friend quickly put the phone down (I dread to think) and with Mary's help set about signing me in and arranging some coupons.

Over drinks we discovered that Mary has been in Singapore for 30 years and we picked up a few sight-seeing tips and must see locations. In return we offered accommodation tips for Mary's next destination, Brisbane. We settled in for a few drinks in the cool shade and spent a happy hour chatting away.

And for those who were wondering, the cricket we saw wasn't up to much.