For those who didn’t already know, I am currently residing in Singapore.
Few days ago my homestay parents came over from New Zealand for a short visit. As the host, I took them to places where I usually take every other visitor to but they had one destination in mind which I wasn’t familiar with, The Raffles Hotel. Apparently everyone back in NZ told them that it is a must-visit place that offers unique experience like being allowed to litter on pub floor in this “fine” country. (In Singapore, you could get fined for littering, crossing the road 50m away from the zebra crossing, spitting, chewing gum and all sorts of petty crimes. No excuses.)
I’m a full-time student which means I’m always on budget. I could afford few luxuries but the Raffles experience had never crossed my mind simply because I didn’t know what so special about it and it seemed too posh a place for one who’s still relying on parents’ allowance.
We reached Raffles Hotel about 1 p.m. and went for lunch at Bar & Billiard that cost $58++/person. The lady at the entrance informed us about the price before we stepped in. I guess we were under-dressed and she had to make sure we’re willing to pay that much for lunch buffet.
The waitresses greeted us with lovely smiles. One of them asked for my homestay dad’s name and they made it a point to address him in a way that made us feel like famous celebrities, “How can I help you Mr. X?”, “How do you like the food Mr. X?”, “Would you like to have another drink Mr.X?” and so on. I’ve never seen such politeness anywhere else in Singapore. Raffles could have been a different country for all I know. The food selection was awesome. I tried caviar for the first time in my life (Needless to say, I’m not an heiress born with silver spoon). I scooped a little of everything but did not eat too much because I had a slight tummy ache and mostly, I didn’t want to appear like what the locals would call kiasu (read:cheapo). Plus the restaurant patrons were pretty classy and it seemed unethical to take plate full of food, of course that’s my lady-ego speaking. Nonetheless, I took 2 plates full of sweet treats. There’s always exception for desserts.
The total bill came up to about SG$80/person. With the kind of food they have, you hardly care about the figures.
We took photos, visited the Raffles Hotel shop, roamed about and then headed to Long Bar on 2nd floor. The bar is renowned for being the birth place of Singapore Sling which has now become the nation’s signature drink. We sat at the bar and ordered 2 Singapore Slings and 1 Lemonade (My homestay mom has stopped drinking alcohol due to medical reason).
Confession time: I had never sipped Singapore Sling in my life. I’ve heard rumours about its awful taste and …. the name did not really appeal to me. (Singapore Sling? What is that?!) However, as the bartender served our drinks, I looked at the pink liquid with fancy embellishment of cherry and pineapple and thought, “Hmm that doesn’t look too bad!”. I took my first sip and was quite surprised that it tasted sweet like a cocktail with really weak alcohol kick; Not bad. We finished our drinks in no time and left for the next hang-out spot.
The visit to Raffles Hotel was certainly a memorable, albeit brief experience. It got me thinking; For most tourists from my homeland, Orchard Road is the ultimate stop and nowhere else matters. They would splurge on branded items and all tangible stuffs, yet failed to take some time for the life experiences. It’s as though their minds work like this; spending $1000 on a bag is understandable, but spending $100 on a real good meal is ridiculous. It could be a bias observation but there’s truth in it and it’s such a pity. Well, whatever makes them happy. I’m just glad I was exposed to the Raffles experience, much obliged to Mr & Mrs X!