When I woke up early this morning I could already feel excitement in the air – just like Christmas Eve at home. Many streets will close this afternoon so communities can get ready for tonight’s New Years Eve 1940 Events. Soon traveling any distance will be next to impossible.
Time is zooming along and there is still plenty on my, “To Do” List list while Bali so I needed to hit the road very early today – 6:30am if I was going to make it to Ubud by 8am and back by noon – any later would risk getting stuck on a road somewhere with no way to get back to the Melia Resort in Nusa Dua.
Good friends of my Uncle Bob and Aunt Linda moved to Bali from Canada, 8 years ago in order to built the LUX Villas in Ubud. I’m glad that I was able to tour this Villa Complex when we arrived in this famous town.
Along the way my driver pointed out the scooter riders who were heading home for the holidays – they were easy to spot as they carried a plastic bag holding the fruit that they will present their Mothers.
Many ceremonies had already started at various Hindu temples and I saw ladies carrying elaborate fruit offerings on their heads towards the temples. They were smartly dressed in white with contrasting yellow or red.
Teenagers were putting last minute touches on the, “Giants” they have been creating for a number of weeks and the bamboo platforms were being assembled so the “Giants” can be placed on them and paraded throughtout their community this evening.
My driver will ride his scooter over 2 hours to his family home this afternoon and will be one of the many who will carry a, “Giant” this afternoon. He was so excited! The Giants represent evil spirits.
After 100 I lost track of how many Giants we passed as we made our way to Ubud.
When we arrived in Ubud trying to get to the parking area was a real challenge as many streets were already closed in the town. Finally with my help, my driver was able to maneuver down some very narrow lanes to the very small Central Parking Lot.
The next dilemma – we could only get a voice message when calling the LUX Villas. We tried a number of times and my driver finally gave up and asked if I’m minded walking. We followed Google Maps to the resort. We asked a local along the way and he said we needed to climb up a steep hill into Rice Fields before we would arrive and he was right – the hill was steep but at the top the views were outstanding and well worth the effort.
After touring the LUX Villas 5 beautiful suites (perfect for a honeymoon) I bought a couple souvenirs at, “Grace” the Gift Shop named after the owners wife.
When they offered to take me back to the Central Parking Lot I was pleased until I learned it would be by SCOOTER! OH My Goodness – I felt like a local – the experience was great FUN – the ride was over way-too-soon.
Our next stop was the John Hardy jewelry complex. John Hardy, is a Canadian who started his jewelry empire in Bali many years ago. His deluxe brand is known throughout the World. He eventually sold the buisiness to an American Company and opened a “Green School” in Bali. He is well respected In Bali. John Hardy Jewelry employees over 700 Balinese.
I was not able to enter the manufacturing site as the staff has the day off to prepare for New Years but the rest of the complex and jewelry shop was open for a 1/2 day. I’ve been collecting John Hardy for a number of years so for me it was a thrill to visit the campus.
My driver stopped at another Jewelry Complex on our way back to Nusa Dua and even though the quality was not up to John Hardy standards, it was fun seeing their operation.
My whirlwind morning getaway finished at noon, luckily before many road closures started.
Its a beautiful day – sunny – low humidity – perfect sunbathing day at the pool.
My group all gathered at 4pm and walked to the gates of the town of Nusa Dua where we took our VIP seats for the New Years Eve festivities. We were definately treated as VIP’s. We sat in comfy chairs right behind the judging platform. Water was supplied. State of the art stage lighting was set up and media/tv crews were in full force.
The locals really made us feel welcome as we walked around prior to the parade to see some of the Giants.
the first half of the parade featured smaller giants carried by children. Their smiles beamed. After intermission the crowd swelled down the route (probably thousands) and the massive giants appeared. Dancing, music, drums all accompanied the Giants – was a spectacle with special effects and big productions. just amazing!
We stayed for 4 hours and left thrilled with what we seen. There was a departing committee thanking us for attending – wishing us Happy New Year and asking us to come back again. The spectacle continued until midnight when the, “Giants” were lead to the water and burn’t on the beach. They symbolize Evil Spirits so by burning them only Good Spirits remain.
What a terrific New Years Eve Event! An once-in-a-lifetime experience that only Bali can provide.
New Years Day is also known as, “Silence Day”. The island will shut down as the Hindus meditate, pray and spend time with their families.
Happy New Year – 1940! How wonderful to be moving back in time!
We Are Soon Going BACK In Time – Celebrating the New Year – 1940 in Bali!
Its fascinating that on Saturday the Bali’s Hindu’s which make up 90 percent of the islands population and all the tourists will be bringing in the New Year of 1940. The Hindu’s follow the Lunar Calendar where a month has 35 days.
New Years Eve is also referred to as Nyepi Day – a time to get rid of evil spirits. The young people create “Giants” – huge figures that they will carry in the streets , these represent the evil spirits – after the “parade” of Giants they will be taken to the ocean and burn’t to rid of the evil spirits.
For a few days before Nyepi Day there are many, “purification ceremony” processional to the ocean – where the locals are all dressed in white but some ladies will wear yellow. The monk blesses them with holy water. This event happens just once a year.
We saw many of these processionals on our Northern Island tour today – we are so lucky to be here during this time period – we witnessed walking processionals consisting of hundreds of people with drums pounding but we mainly saw vehicle processions – trucks carry worshipers to and from the ocean for the Ceremony- many started preparations at 1am this morning and the convoy to the ocean started at 3am.
Todays greatest experience for us was when we arrived at a breathtaking Hindu temple located on the water – as luck would have it a, “purification ceremony” was taking place so we were surrounded by it. Just incredible!
Today was one of the greatest cultural travel experiences of my 30 plus years taking groups around the World!
Tomorrow we will walk to the entrance of the Nusa Dua community where we will watch the New Years Eve celebrations. I’m sure we will be dazzled by the “Giants” parade – these are truly works of art that often take a month to create. Many of the male teenagers dye their hair for this event, especially if they are carrying the “Giants” but they have to dye it back to its natural colour before they return back to school.
Saturday is, New Years Day which is also called, “Silence Day” – the locals take this day very seriously – everything comes to COMPLETE stand still on this island on Silence Day – NO flights in or out of the COUNTRY – no vehicles on the roads EXCEPT for emergency, NO walking on streets – locals stay home and my passengers and I will need to remain at our resort – locals turn lights OFF – television and internet will have NO reception during Silence Day – so don’t expect a blog post from me – the Hindus will fast as they cannot start a fire or use gas/propane.
For me and my passengers todays highlight was experiencing the many, “purification ceremonies” but we were also in awe of beautiful scenery especially when we traveled through the terraced rice fields and climbed high elevations surrounded by rural communities. The monkeys greeted us too!
So much of a Bali Hindu’s life is based around offerings and celebrations.
Offerings start first thing in the morning when a Mother or Grandfather who prepares breakfast gives thanks by placing little offerings throughout the house. Throughout the day they leave over 20 offerings.
The Bali Hindu’s love a festival –
Every 16 days when there is a full moon or dark moon there is a festival.
The largest festivals occur every 210 days – every 6 months – when the temples are elaborately decorated.
There is a Ceremony for those who have passed – this happens every 6 months – their favourite food is prepared for 10 days and then the spirit leaves the earth again – so that means another celebration.
During the Knowledge day celebration students and teachers dress beautifully – a monk visits schools and talks about knowledge – this is a class free day – students that are not Hindu get the day off.
There is also a Ceremony for anything metal like cars/motorcycles/scooters/equipment as it is believed they have spirits that look after people.
During the Ceremony for animals they get feed twice their typical amount of food.
The reason for the Ceremony of trees, fruit trees etc is to ask for a good harvest.
Every 6 months a celebration is held in honor of music instruments and band/dancer uniforms.
Your soul dictates which of these ceremonies you will take part in but many Bali Hindu’s participate in all of them.
Sunday New Years Day is celebrated. Locals usually work very long hours and often everyday so this New Years Day is spent visiting relatives with presents in tow and humbly apologize for what they have done wrong.
Today was truly an, “Eat, Pray, Love” Experience Day.
My passengers and I are excited about what the following days have in store for us but we have to wonder if Bali’s karma can get any better than it was today!
Before arriving in Bali I researched a number of cooking class opportunities and decided that the offering at the Bale Resort would really please those interested in my group.
The executive chef from the Bale picked us up at 8am and we started the day at a local market where supplies were purchased for our cooking class.
On our way we passed another much smaller market that opens daily at midnight and only sells items such as little handwoven baskets and food that is used as the Hindu offerings 3 times a day.
Trying to find parking at the main market was next to impossible so the chef pulled over on the sidewalk even though its not allowed. A steady stream of cars and motorbikes passed us so he basically walked into the traffic to stop the flow and we cautiously crossed the street.
This market is unlike anything we have at home – we were fascinated as we surrounded ourselves with local culture.
Many of the on-street vendors sold street food which cost less than a dollar. Thls food is prepared on the spot and is wrapped in banana leaves which makes it easily transportable. Although we were tempted we knew it was too risky to try this food.
While inside the market we tasted many fruits that we never knew existed. Some varieties are only available for a few weeks this special time of year. Like many areas of the World, cuts of meat, chicken etc are displayed on tables – not refrigerated. The smells were interesting….
The market was a buzz of activity. Nothing was priced so the chef handed vendors what he felt was a fair for everything we sampled and what he purchased for our class.
He pointed out two types of Indonesian “mortar and pestle” which they use in restaurants and home – the more expensive version is made using lava rock and will last for decades. The other looked like lava rock but was a lower quality imitation. With the help of the chef I purchased the lava rock version – it certainly will be a conversation piece in my home. The disadvantage is it weighs plenty and I need to transport it back to Canada.
We then continued to the local fish market. Along the way the chef paid a gentleman standing on the street less than a dollar. That money goes to the locals that clean the beach very early everyday. Tourists are charged double the local fee, when they enter this area.
The fisherman fill their unique looking boats with their nightly catch and then sail to the market. The fish are scooped from the boat into huge baskets by hand and then 4 gentleman struggle up the beach to get the heavy load on to scales. Some buyers haggle with the fisherman before the basket reaches the scales in order to get the best deals. Chef told us that its common to see the fisherman nabbing a few fish from the basket for themselves. We watched them hiding what they grabbed.
This indoor local fish market was huge – it was amazing walking amongst all the types of seafood that were available for sale. The prawns were massive in size and chef explained that the farm raised ones are not as tasty as the ocean catch. The lobsters were humongous.
As we strolled down the aisles our footwear got really wet and probably will always have a fish odor reminding us of where had been.
Chef purchased white snapper, clams and live crabs which soon cooked up.
Outside the fish market vendors will clean and then grill your fresh fish purchases over hardwood – the smell made us hungry.
I made my next purchase from the moveable store at the back of a motorcycle – 2 locally crafted kitchen knives which are housed in a hand-made leather pouch.
Its hard finding locals that want to work in the fish market so the government allows Muslim workers from Java to work here. Chef said a family of 10 will often arrive and return to Java for religious holidays. When they come back to Bali its no longer with just 10 – the number increases to possibly 15.
The market experience was an incredible one. It opened our eyes – unlike anything I have seen elsewhere in the World.
I think there needs to be a new, “cooking class” phrase because tourists often say – I don’t cook so why am going to attend a cooking class or I’ll never cook that type of food at home.
That shouldn’t matter as its the cultural experience that makes and event like this, one that we will not forget for years to come. The market stop alone was worth the price we paid.
We chef also made a quick stop for us tour tour a beautiful, upmarket pottery operation.
The stunning location restaurant that overlooks the pool at the Bale is undergoing renovations so we cooked in their secondary restaurant which is a beautiful, relaxing, modern space.
We were served fresh juices, choice of coffees, teas, melt-in-your-mouth plain croissants, chocolate croissants, muffins and preserves before we started cooking.
We cooked for 4 hours – great fun – I learned a number of new-to-me techniques from the 2 very friendly Master Chefs who looked after us.
We created a feast – we cooked enough food for many people. When we sat down to eat there were so many platters the servers struggled to find enough room on the large dining table to put them all.
The flavours were amazing so we were quite proud of ourselves.
Time flew by – this thrilling experience took 8 hours.
The sales manager at the Bale was kind to discount the cost of this experience especially for my passengers as she knew I will probably bring them more patrons in the future. To make the experience ever more special for us, she approved the chef to purchase some upmarket food items (live crab, clams) which they don’t offer in their regular class.
I would have loved to have lingered over our feast but I quickly ate as I needed to hit the road as a number of weeks ago I arranged for the sales manager to show me some of the villa complexes she represents. If I have the time I always investigate group hotel opportunities when I travel.
If you visit Bali – don’t miss the Bale Resort cooking class – its an exceptional event and the ultimate cultural experience!
I visited with many of my passengers when I returned to the Melia and everyone agreed we all enjoyed another fabulous day in Paradise!
It’s another beautiful day in Paradise.
Why is it that we often desire what we don’t have? Many of the locals (both sexes) cover themselves while in the sun from head to toe because they don’t want their skin to turn darker than it is – in fact they want to lighten it – and then the tourists work on turning their white skin as brown as the locals….
My sister FaceTime’d me this morning – she must be missing me! Was great to have a chat with her and to see my nephew Schyler’s new haircut – he’s rockin’! How times have changed. Sixteen years ago I learned by fax while I was traveling with a group on a cruise ship that Schyler was born. Now we just have to hit a button on a computer to communicate with someone anywhere in the world plus we can even see them in real time on the computer screen.
Most of my gang is up and enjoying breakfast early this morning as we are on a full day tour today.
I always look forward to tasting the seedless, “yellow” watermelon which is on the breakfast buffet but the fruit platter that is available at lunch and dinner is the best – so many varieties that don’t see at home.
Yesterday I traveled to Seminyak which many consider a shoppers haven. I just barely touched on all the shopping opportunities that are available there. I liked it because its full of local boutiques – none of the chain stores that we have back home. I quickly learned where you can barter and where you don’t. The locals are so polite – they often say, “I Can Offer You A Better Price” and if you still don’t agree to their offer their next phrase is often, “If You Wish I Can Give You An Even Better Price”.
On the way back to Nusa Dua, I asked my driver to stop at a trendy restaurant that is very popular. I was able to get some inside pictures and of course buy the chefs new cookbook to add to my collection. Even though I was tempted to dine there, the cuisine is so delicious at our resort there is no need to eat elsewhere.
He also drove me through the community of Legian – great area for the younger crowd who want to party and the village of Kuta which is similar. Nusa Dua where we are staying is perfect for my groups as its the most upscale area in Bali and the atmosphere is ideal for a relaxing getaway.
Last night I tried the resorts Lotus Restaurant which features a nightly Balinese dance performance. This restaurant is pretty high tech – with an iPad menu so you can see pictures of the food and read descriptions before ordering. My meal was delicious. The dancers were beautifully dressed and their movements were in perfect sync. The 8 piece bands music was, “unique” – certainly not we are use to hearing – I don’t think I’d buy a CD but I appreciate their talent.
There are 5 major islands in Indonesia but in the grand scheme there are over 13000 islands. Bali is bigger than Singapore – same population around 3 million – there are over 3000 villages on this island. In Bali there are also 20,000 temples – so its often referred to as the Island of Gods.
Government wise there is a President, Prime Minister, Governor and Royal Family.
Tourism and rice are the major industries here.
Traffic jams are a major problem – I don’t suggest you rent a car if visiting.
The islands Hindu religion originated from India since the 4th Century. The Dutch settled here due to the spices and controlled the island for 350 years.
In Bali there are more shrines than in India. Here the populations prays to both Good and Bad Spirits as this is equality. Most worship and pray 3 times a day 6am – 12pm – 6pm – they meditate and remember the Gods. Hindu’s believe in 3 Gods – that is why there are 3 temples in every village representing each God – colours are important – Black, White, Red.
Ceremonies are a way of life in Bali. The first ceremony is when a women is 3 months pregnant, 3 months after birth is the next ceremony – a new born will not touch the ground for 3 months and is considered an angel – announce name of baby at 3 months – family members each write a name on a piece of paper – baby determines its name by grabbing one of those pieces of paper. After 3 months a baby is then allowed to touch the ground. At 6 months another celebration for the 6 month birthday – birthdays are celebrated every six months until the age of 16 and then celebrated once a year.
A bride and groom tooth filing ceremony takes place 6 months before a wedding by the monks as its felt that this turns you into real human being and protects your soul to go to heaven. The teeth are filed until you can determine the taste of tamarind, sugar and salt.
A Wedding is the nicest ceremony – friends bring gifts. There are 3 ways to find a mate – arranged marriage (not as common now) – parent lets children decide – or kidnapping (practiced years ago by the wealthy).
The final and largest ceremony is cremation. This is the most expensive ceremony – lasts up to 14 days – shows the wealth of the person that passed – that persons money to spent to feed the guests for 14 days. Mass cremation is practiced by the poor 5 years after the death – ashes are then taken to the beach or river.
Ceremonies are held for both humans and the environment – the locals are grateful for the environment – for example they believe that a tree also has a spirit – when their is a ceremony for an animal they will be feed more that day to celebrate. Even a stone has a soul so often they will put an umbrella over a carved stone to protect it from the sun or dress it (clothing will be changed every 6 months during a ceremony).
They believe in the following interactions –
Human and God
Human and Human
Human and Environment
They follow a good thinking – good speaking – and good doing philosophy. They also believe in Black and White.
They really don’t need a weatherman because they know already weather details such as, 2 days before and 2 days after a full moon there will be heavy rains but they celebrate this because rain is important to make the crops grow.
During our all day tour we were amazed by the workmanship we saw at businesses specializing in silver jewelry production, coffee/tea, batik fabric, and woodworking. The craftspeople are some of the finest in the World. Their talent is remarkable – and has been passed down from generation to generation. One of my passengers thought these operations were like sweat shops – I disagree these are just very hard working people.
Our luncheon was at a stunning location – next to rice fields. The food was delicious – we had a choice of 3 soups, for the entree crispy duck or BBQ chicken and for dessert 3 choices (fruit, crepe, fried bananas). The bbq chicken had been cooked on hardwood – full of flavour and so tender.
The family that operates the restaurant also owns the family woodworking shop. I’m not typically interested in woodworking but I could have watched them work for hours – just fascinating seeing them create such masterpieces.
As a “Bradley Surprise” we visited the Nusa Dua Theatre and attended the “Devdan” Production which features the music and dance of Indonesia. This is a major attraction in Bali. A World Class production. The sales manager was so excited that I booked a group for the first time that she personally transferred us to and from the theatre in her vehicle.
After the performance I dined in the beautiful Japanese restaurant at the Melia Resort where we are staying. Once again another excellent meal.
I must close for now – there are 3 of us attending a cooking class this morning at a famous boutique hotel. Their famous chef is hosting us. We are looking forward to it!
The sun is out and its another picture perfect day in Bali.
I ventured out to see some of the venues that I’ve included on our tour tomorrow.
I was away for 6.5 hours and the driver opened my eyes. Life on Bali is truly fascinating.
Almost everyone follows the Hindu religion and that is why there are so many ceremonies. Many of these ceremonies are unique to Bali. You therefore will not see them practiced in other area of the World with large Hindu populations.
Bali is known as the island of Temples. There are literally thousands of them – most homeowners are going to have a temple on their property.
Offerings are a very important part of life here. This is typically left up to the ladies. Three times a day they pray and then leave offerings for both the good spirits (placed higher) and the bad (placed on the ground) – typically flowers, herbs or a food item such as cooked rice are given. These offerings do not need to be left at a temple – often you’ll see them strategically placed in a store. Organizing your offerings can take time so for convenience sake in today hectic World they can be found for purchase in local shops.
There are 3 main temples in every community. Each one is used for certain ceremonies and the location of the temples in the town is very important.
There is a caste system here and the persons given name often refers to the caste that they are born into. Over 90% of the population are consider peasants – lower caste.
Family is important here – getting a divorce is not easy.
Many communities are known for a single item – Batik Fabric, Silver, Woodworking etc – the craftspersons are taught buy their parents so the techniques are past down through the generations.
We stopped at the silver shop where I am taking my group. They have the largest showroom in Bali. Here the quality and the workmanship is much better than you’ll find at the local markets but not as detailed as some of the very high end silver operations that can be found in Bali. Pricing is fixed and I felt quite reasonable.
It was amazing watching the silver craftsmen work. It will easily take 4 or more days to produce a silver ring – most of the craft people I saw were female – I was in awe watching them work – this is not an easy job – such intricate designs. I was told that these artists often takes their work home and continue working on it in the evening, Trying to determine how much they are paid was not easy – if I understandcorrectly if you are at the top of your game and one of the best designers you will make around $1000 American a month – others will be paid in the $600.00 a month range. Silver craftsman are paid much more than someone who creates Batik or Wooden crafts. No matter what these talented people work for every little.
When you met a local they greet you by putting their hands together like in prayer and they slightly bow.
Good Karma and Bad Karma is on everyone’s minds here. Friendships are more important that money even though my driver said everyone needs money – as he said More Friends = More Wealth.
Stopped at the famous, “Eat, Pray, Love” community of Ubud. Walking through the market was interesting. There wasn’t much that I was interested in buying but once again I surrounded by the local atmosphere which is exhilarating. You need to barter in these markets – I found if they want $20 offer $5 and they’ll be happy with that.
As we drove along we noticed many food stalls that cater to the locals – my driver said that tourists will end up with the, “Bali Belly” if they eat this food. We are only dining at establishments that cater to the tourists. There are many World-Class restaurants in Bali. It certainly is convenient staying where we are – a great choice of excellent quality dining all included in our package. I’m really enjoying the seafood (see the picture of my lunch yesterday in the resort restaurant that overlooks the beach).
I walked to the Bali Collection Mall which is a quick 10 minutes stroll from the Melia. Here in Nusa Dua that walkways are excellent and the area very park-like – beautiful. I didn’t end up buying anything but the facility is quite impressive. For some reason the flow is a little confusing so I recommend if you go – enter and leave from the same entrance.
Well its time for breakfast – the day is young – I’m in Paradise – can’t get much better than this!
Enjoyed a wonderful time visiting the best of Singapore before our 2 hr 15 min flight to Densapasar, Bali.
Checked in for the 4:30pm flight at 145pm. I gave my passengers money so they could buy lunch at a venue in the Singapore Airport – there is a massive choice.
Singapore Airlines gladly provided us TWO group check-in desks.
You can clear immigration with automation or by visiting a customs rep – your choice.
Security is at the gate so quick.
Was surprised to see Chicago Garrett’s Popcorn for sale in the airport! Of course I could not resist the Chicago Mix!
Airbus 330 Flight to Denspasar was full – very smooth flight.
Had an interesting seat mate. A young guy (early 20’s) from Prague who travels the World. He is a plane buff and searches out rare aircraft to fly on. His travel schedule is much more hectic than mine – he just flew from Peru to Vancouver to Calgary to Singapore to Bali – he stops and visited each destination. Most of the time he flies business and sometimes first class He has an apartment in Hong Kong as he said it provides the best nightlife for “young” people – think that was a hint that I am no longer “young”. At his age he has traveled almost as much as I have! Wonderful opportunity for him thanks to his parents successful business.
Customs clearance in Bali was easy – as Canadians we quality for a no charge tourist visa. Our male guide was dressed in local costume to welcome us. Big, “Travel With Bradley” sign at the entrance of the Melia Resort, Nusa Dua. I arranged for surprise welcome entertainment for our group.
After checking into a spacious, Balinese style room I enjoyed dinner at the resort restaurant on the beach where the cuisine was excellent! For the main course I enjoyed a mixed seafood grill with jumbo prawns! With our all-inclusive package we have a choice of 5 restaurants.
Early this morning I met most of my passengers while strolling the grounds. Everyone is up early checking everything out – Everyone is thrilled!
Breakfast featured cuisines from Bali, Asia, India and International!
Today is a relaxing day – many of my gang have already nabbed their spots next to the pool and on the beach. The weather is already sunny and hot!
Bali is PARADISE!
Wow – we are on the final stretch….
Soon we will arrive in Singapore.
Our flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong was 45 minutes late arriving so we had 35 minutes to get off the plane, go through security and get back on the same plane. It kept us moving but once again everything was so well organized – we were guided by Singapore Airlines employees holding signs all the way along the route. I kept at the end of the pack to make sure nobody in my group got left behind.
A steward on our last flight told me that the Hong Kong airport is one of the most efficient in the World – right down to the cleaning staff. When I walked into the Hong Kong airport washroom there was an attendant responsible for making sure the facility stays clean – he remains in there at all time – not just spot checks – it was spotless – you could smell the bleach.
Once again boarding the jet was a breeze – no lines – in no time we were seated and ready to depart. I’m been trying to determine why Singapore Airlines does a much better job than others – I believe its the abundance of staff – professional, experienced staff – other airlines should take note!
The flight attendant in our section of the aircraft was such a sweet heart – Marlet, one of my passengers was admiring the outfits they wear – the stewardess commented that they are made of a cotton material that repels liquids and if they spill something on them, the design of the material hides the stain so passengers won’t notice. She told Marlet that similar designs are available on ebay or in the Chinese Market in Singapore. The stewardesses look immaculate at all times. My female passengers kept saying – their hair is styled perfectly – nothing is ever out of place. The attendants have been overly friendly on all flights – when they bring around our meals they say hello, how are you, describe the choices… on most airlines the attendants would stare at you and say chicken or beef!
Another breakfast was served – my passengers were more interested in ordering Singapore Slings! It’s wonderful how Singapore Airlines has embraced this cocktail that is known by most and has put their country on the cocktail map.
We arrived in Singapore after 3 hours 15 minutes. This airport is so impressive – my passengers were all coming to me saying they can’t believe how beautiful it is. Massive live greenery walls surround much of the customs hall – but unfortunately I had to remind my passengers that they couldn’t take pictures in this secure part of the airport.
There were no lines at customs so we were through quickly but by the time we finished, long lines had formed so a few flights obviously arrived after us. Our luggage also arrived very quickly – why can’t other airports be so efficient? We met our local guide, Susan and boarded a private coach charter to the 5 star Fairmont Hotel. She pointed out highlights along the way.
The Fairmont in Singapore always impresses me. The rooms are beautiful and very so homey. The oversize rain shower in the bathrooms gives you new energy after many hours of flying. Once again ALL the staff here are so professional – the front desk staff are always at the top of the game so I never hesitate to book this hotel. Our rooms were ready ahead of check-in time even though the hotel is at capacity. Any request I have is not too much.
We really enjoyed our luncheon at Cafe Swiss. Their International Buffet is impressive. This is not your run-of-the-mill lunch buffet – many upmarket selections, food stations and a chocolate fountain with warm carrot cake are part of the dessert table.
After our many flights my group finally had some down time. I was able to fit in some shopping in the convenient attached mall and relaxation time in the impressive Fairmont Spa. Others went to the “pop up” Raffles Hotel Long Bar for a Singapore Sling. Raffles just closed for a massive renovation. I’ll be anxious to see the new updated Raffles Hotel next time I am in Singapore.
We gathered once again for dinner at Prego. I always use this restaurant when I have groups in Singapore. The younger manager was so pleased that I brought them another group. He came right up to me asking how I have been. The chef came out of the kitchen to make sure I was happy with everything. He is from Italy and wanted to meet the Canadians as he remarked that Fairmont Hotels has a long history in our country.
I picked a sharing menu for the group this time – we would call it “Family Style” at home. Platters of starters, main courses and desserts arrived. Since I knew everyone is tired I asked for them to bring the food out quickly so we had no waits between courses. Everything served was fresh, hot and delicious. There was an abundance of selections. Well Done!
Dining out in Singapore is very expensive. I pointed out to my guests that our lunch buffet was $60 per person plus tax and tip – dinner well over $100. per person. I’ll never forget a few years ago when I had a group in Singapore, a 3 course group German schnitzel dinner was $160.00 per person!
When I arrived back to my hotel room after dinner my internal light switch turned off. I was not tired up until that point but all of a sudden I was done. I could barely finish a couple Facebook posts before quickly falling asleep but by 3am I was wide awake. I feel great and ready to go.
Today after we enjoy the superb breakfast buffet at the Fairmont (one of the best anywhere in the World) I’ve picked out the best places for us to visit in Singapore during a 1/2 day tour. We’ll then travel to the airport for our Singapore Airlines flight to Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. We arrive around 730pm if I recall correctly.
Last night one of my passengers took me aside to say how terrific this tour is – my response was “thank you very much but we are just beginning”.
How wonderful to think that Bali is waiting for us – in a few hours we will arrive in paradise!