This morning we awoke, in great McClellan fashion, without a plan. Dani and I sat around for an hour or two talking about life, the universe and everything while drinking some coffee. We realized that we should get out and see the sights, so we headed out towards a mall (yes, another one) that specializes in art supply stores, bookstores, and other sundry. We bought Dani some art supplies that she needed, after browsing through a great, tiny used bookstore (again, in great McClellan fashion) that was half split with chinese paperbacks, western novels and original red army propaganda posters. The shop takes pictures of everybody who buys one, and had a poster board outside with tons of them.
We looked around the funny mall, stopping in a few shops before deciding to walk over to the Raffles Hotel for a bite to eat and a look around. The hotel is named after Sir Stamford Raffles, a british employee of the British East India Company. He founded Singapore in 1819 as a strategic British colony. Which, of course, is not to say that Singapore wasn't a port in its own right with local trade before, but Raffles brought the empire here, and formalized the port which became the gateway to Indonesian trade.
Who better to name a hotel after, if you want to evoke romantic imperialism. Well, romantic to white westerners anyway, who read exciting british exploits to the uncivilized world. To Raffles credit, he worked hard to abolish slavery, and was said to be extraordinarily aware for an imperialist.
The hotel was originally opened in 1887. Joseph Conrad, and Rudyard Kipling were early guests. It was restored in 1989, although the feeling seems to be that it became a simulacra of itself, as opposed to its ratty, but very authentic, glory.
Now, it's a place where one might go to feel like a king, and buy trinkets emblazoned with colonial glory. Like t-shirts and wallets. And spend hundreds of dollars a night for the priveledge.
We walked around the to front of the hotel, thinking we'd look into the buffet into the dining room, but the doorman (in full colonial Indian uniform) informed us that there was no entry to gents in short pants. Instead, we went to a chinese bakery and had a sandwich, and watched people.
We wandered over to Mod Living, a store competing for the minimalist universe prize. They're so minimalist, in fact, that you have to sign a pledge when you walk in that you will never write more than two sentences about them. I'm writing three because I'm a maximalist.
A few walks through shops, and a visit to the Raffles Center mall for some OP swim trunks for me (interesting: OP, which stands for Ocean Pacific in the states is Orient Pacific here) and a sit down treat at Haagen Dazs.
In Singapore, many brands that seem less than fancy in the states are very chic. This ice cream shop was very chic indeed, with fancy sundays available. We ate and went to cold storage--this one had neat grocery carts that you can only get by inserting a $1 coin. When you return the cart, it returns your dollar.
In order to get to the taxi stand, though, we wheeled our cart full of groceries through the middle of a very high-end mall. At home, Dani made a great chicken curry. We went for a swim in the pool, and rounded out the night with some frozen mochi, tea and Sex in the City.
Posted by: Martin McClellan
On the date of: October 26, 2004 03:24 AM