October 2007 - Singapore & Langkawi

The most frustrating part of the day after drinking is not the hungover, if there are things to do you suffer through it. Oh no, it is waking up at ungodly hours of the morning and then being unable to get back to sleep. At home, this is fine, turn on the computer for an hour or so and then go back to sleep until lunchtime but today is shopping day and with four hours until the shops open I was in hell (at least it was a luxurious hell).

Finally, after almost falling asleep at the crucial moment that would have made me late for shopping, I ventured out in search of Charles and Keith (and whatever else I could find) in the rain. I usually like the rain but all I saw was a annoying obstacle in me getting from shop a to shop b. I started by going to ‘That CD Store’, yes people, that’s it’s name. It deals in more mood music, rather than charts, you can listen on the many stations they have setup to any cd you like and the staff are extra knowledgeable so when you pick something you like, they point you in the direction of something else that might tickle your fancy. So an hour later (a much worthwhile hour) I emerged to sunny sunny sunshine (sadly no, it was still raining cats and dogs), my shopping day had officially begun.

It only took me 10 minutes after that to find Charles and Keith (fluke, I didn’t know where it was).Unfortunately my feet and shoes were absolutely drenched from the downpour outside and I had to concede defeat, there was no way I could try on shoes now. So I wondered around Ngee Ann City which includes Takashimaya and Kinokuniya. After a couple of purchases and some lunch I returned with dry feet to my Singapore Shopping Mecca. I call it Mecca for the hoard of people that were in the shop with me. If it were Sydney, you would never get served, but as soon as I picked up a pair of shoes someone appeared out of nowhere and asked me what size. This was slightly problematic because I had every intention of trying on more than one pair of shoes. They were patient and eventually I walked out with 3 new pairs of shoes for no more than about AUD$80 (the forth pair would come later as they didn’t have my size).

During my shopping day I fell in love with the Swatch jewellery, found the standalone MAC store (very important for palette eyeshadows), strolled in and out of all the funky stores in the HMV building, celebrated Takashimaya’s birthday (with the rest of the Singaporian population) and found that carrying around 3 pairs of shoes and a lot of other shopping made me dream of Langkawi’s spa. It was 5 o’clock, 6 hours of shopping when I finally returned to the room, I could not beat Jonno and my record in Shibuya, but then again I wasn’t carrying shoe boxes in Tokyo.

I could have easily had room service for dinner and gone to bed, but I had other plans. I thought it would be nice to at least eat in the hotel, so instead of going to the fancy Chinese restaurant I decided on the simple main restaurant where I could get something from the grill and some chips.

Seated at the table I was handed the menu,

“We are serving a special Middle Eastern Menu tonight. The Chef from one of the property’s in Cairo was showcasing for the month in the restaurant."

First thought ‘oh dear god’
Second thought ‘can I get out of this without it being obvious?’
Third thought ‘no’
Final thought ’I’m going to suffer.’

So a plain cut of beef with some chips turned into chicken skewers with rice and some orange coloured sauce that I can’t even begin to describe. There were four pieces of chicken, each between the size of a golf ball and tennis ball. ‘I’m in over my head here.’ I did manage to eat quite a lot and it wasn’t all that bad even though I didn’t have an appreciation for it then (I would come to remember it’s taste the next day and wish I could have some more). Just when I was about to finish I bit into a spice in the rice that can only be described as eating something that tasted like the Spa at work. I was eating something that tasted like the Spa at work! I regretted that last mouth full and had to have another two to quell the taste. The Middle Eastern dessert menu comes out, followed shortly after by the main a la carte dessert menu. Insert curses here, I’m pretty sure I would have been able to get that beef and chips. I settled with a hot chocolate that was basically a dessert in itself and came with as many side dishes as my main and then returned to my room.

Whilst sleeping was such a tempting offer at this time (around 10) I quickly got changed and jumped in a cab before I had the chance to contemplate my madness. Off to Ministry of Sound down at Clarke Point, a bustling complex that houses many a restaurant and bars and is a haven for expats and tourists alike. I paid my $20 and went straight on into this small bar area with a cage around the dance floor, the smoking area all glassed off to my right. It had a similar feel to the small bar area in the Cave at Star City (but then again it has been a while since I ventured down there). None of the other sections had been opened yet (around 11).

Someone had already warned me about the extortion prices for drinks, so when I dished out $14 for a Bacardi Beezer (it was the easiest thing to communicate in the noise) I was hardly shocked, I just vowed that it would be the one and only drink for the evening (and after Friday night, that was probably a good idea). Two guys started conversation, danced with one and the other said he was coming to Sydney next year to study finance at UNSW… Small world really. He asked me to dance but at that stage I wanted to go exploring the rest of the club, so off I went. Midnight and there was not a soul out on the main dancefloor, everyone was still hovering around their reserved high tables and cocktail chairs, huddled in pacts on sofas or waiting for service at the bar. $7 bought me a bottle of water and I wandered upstairs to the balcony. In the main room of Ministry of Sound it is not enough to have one DJ, there were four and with a birds eye view I watched them run around flicking switches.

I wandered into Retroland after that. This is clearly where people wanted to dance and all the foreigners were. The dancefloor ceiling was smothered in disco balls, the seating area had a rainbow painted on the ceiling and in the smoking room the wall was painted with something you would find in a graphic design magazine. This was by far my favourite room, it had cool design to look at and it was a great place for people watching.

Speaking of people, although the majority were local when it came to the tourists they came from all different age groups including a couple of mid 50 year old American guys, a Greek gathering that must have been a whole bunch of cousins out for a good time and a guy in the retro room that must have been sucked in from the 80’s with tight red jeans and a blond mullet (at least 45). He walked to the bar with that, ‘look at me aren’t I cool’ and it took all my self-control not to start laughing as I walked by.

It was a little after one that I called it a night and waited patiently in the very organised taxi queue. 10 mins later I was on my way back the Hotel watching the latest episode of House before crashing.