Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Marry Me So I Can Sleep

Everyone is waiting for a taxi at 4:30 a.m.
Getting up for a 5:30 a.m. flight departure is never easy but it was the only way to get to Penang, Malaysia with time left in the day to enjoy the beach, the spa and my favourite, Happy Hour. R2 returned home from Hong Kong at 1:00 a.m., repacked, slept a couple of hours and we hit the 4:30 a.m. taxi run to Changi Airport.

We were both drifting off when the Captain's voice blared over the PA system. There was a special announcement to be made that was disrupting our much needed ZZs. We watched as three attendants presented one passenger with roses and ten people jumped to digitally capture the moment in time.  The Rose Recipient's  boyfriend "popped" the Big question over the PA system. At least we think he did; the system was a cross between a Walmart toilet paper announcement and trying to hear if your bus arrived at the scheduled time.  You know the ones I am talking about, "Rereold ppereere shaiashis thirp, toilet paper, eoeri ghoa iembkquo reoa soolddf  at $1.99."

We all waited with bated breath hoping she would say "yes" so we could get forty winks.  Hey, it was early and I can only enjoy Disney fairy tale endings so much with four hours of sleep.  R2 remarked the tightwad should have sprung for Singapore Airlines and not the free $0 flight we were taking to Kuala Lumpur on AirAsia. Gotta love my hubby, he is always Mr. Pragmatic. I tried to catch a glimpse of the rock when she ran by, but she was too busy wiping tears and smacking her friends for embarrassing her by not spilling the beans.

The airports in Malaysia are always interesting. We decided to "test" security to see if we could smuggle liquids through the baggage check. While I was nervous, R2 assured me I could breeze through with a huge glass of Booster. No one paid the slightest bit of attention to my huge liquid bomb in the supersized cup. What a pleasure not to be treated like I was the leader of Al-Qaeda for bringing shampoo on the plane.

Almost like Mexico
We took the second quick flight to Penang and after a painfully slow, mosquito-ridden ride in an ancient Mercedes, we finally arrived at the Shangri-la in Penang. Charming hotel - lousy beach, unless you enjoy swimming with Jelly Fish, jet skis and parasails. Not to worry, I wasn't there for the sun and sand, I was there for a world class spa (mind-blowing treatments), the gastronomy (the black cod was to die for) and the sublime gardens (who knew black pepper grew on a climbing vine?)

We had a chatty conversation with one of the servers who told us how scared she was during the earthquake three days earlier. There are earthquake experts that suggest Penang will be hit with a major quake, sooner, rather than later. If there is a Tsunami warning, and I am hunkered down on the beach with my Girl With a Dragon Tattoo read, I will be running for higher ground, unlike the reported globetrotters that refused to leave.

Sunday is a day for sleeping upside down
There is not much else to report about Penang.  The historical area in Gerogetown looked interesting, however, it was Sunday and everything shuts down. Coming from Singapore, we were blown away by tourist attractions that were silent on Sunday, typically when all camera toters want to photograph the sites, spend as much cash as they can and leave litter all over the grounds. It was even difficult to find food; completely unheard of to Singaporeans.

We couldn't rouse the rickshaw driver on Sunday
Our hotel was miles from nowhere so we caught the last shuttle back, just in time to have another bizarre massage from a roadside location.  We should have left well enough alone after a near perfect Tibetan treatment the previous day.  We were separated and massaged with a rough towel. I swear I saw a guy behind the spa wiping his old car down with the same style of rag. Neither of us could figure out this strange massage, or why the girls would not touch our skin.  R2 had a lady that spent more time telling him he should have his ears candled than giving him the Royal Rag Rubdown.

A patriotic car in Penang
R2 and I are still in Kuala Lumpur. He is working and I am spending, steam bathing, infinity pooling, and generally being a Real Housewife of Singapore before we fly back to reality. It was a great break but I must get back to my professional lunching, riding and beach combing. Next stop...Kota Kinabalu.

(Follow Layna in Asia on Mexico on My Mind site for her perspective of travels in Mexico)

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Party Amongst the Stars

It isn't often I get to slap on "City Shoes" in Singapore. My typical wardrobe consists of shorts and flip flops, but an opportunity to cruise an amazing club presented itself so who was I to say no. My days of clubbing are mostly ancient history but when you are invited to attend a fete 74 stories in the heavens on a Helipad, I would have to be crazy to let this good fortune pass me by. Fortuitously there were party-goers as young as eighteen and old as...well, older than me.  The invite was all "who you know" and you better look catwalk fine to attend.

I did a little sleuthing on this hotel and Helipad. I was pleasantly surprised to learn you could book the Helipad for a mere $10,000 per couple and have a private feedbag amongst the stars in Singy. I was relieved to see you receive a gold bracelet trinket to memorialize the occasion. I would hate to walk away from $10,000 with only a nine course nosh to show for R2's hard earned money.

$10 Gee View
We arrived at the Club and scoped out the view. We weren't on the Helipad yet, however the view from 70 stories up was unsurpassable. We plastered ourselves up against the glass gazing at lights as far as the eye could see across the island.  Getting thirsty, we decided to nudge all the kids out of the way and grab a drink before the doors to the Helipad opened.  I looked at the extensive drink menu.  The prices were between, "Are Your Out Of Your @*#%#%$ Mind," and "Wait, I Need To Call My Banker To See If The Cheque Cleared."

We saw the behemothic queue and managed to wheedle our way to the front. Being tall in Asia has its rewards. We were told we couldn't take the drink upstairs because they weren't in a plastic container so I downed my $35 Mojito in record speed before we proceeded up the staircase.

The sites on the Helipad were breathtaking and the view wasn't bad either. I had to take a cloth to wipe R2's drool and occasionally pick up his chin off the floor from the captivating women. I often have the same problem, but it is only in shoe boutiques. But like my stiletto fetish, R2 knows how impractical and painful these models would be. Nice to look at, but more agony than they are worth.

R2 and his bevvie of beauties with Random Guy
We were given a watered down aperitif which went well as we gaped in wonder at the feast for the eyes. We were higher than the Marina Bay Sands, in fact, this hotel is one of the tallest in SE Asia. Truly amazing, and no glass, fence or barricade to keep you from plunging to your death. The security were diligent to keep would-be photographers too close to the edge and the tall, leggy blonds that seem to dominate the helipad were a force field on their own. The men couldn't decide if they should photograph the city or sneak in a photo of these drop-dead gorgeous beauties.

The pad was getting more congested by the minute and before we became a statistic of Singapore, we decided to make our way back down. We were greeted by a lineup of over 500 people waiting patiently with entertaining PDAs in hopes for a slight chance they would push their way into the club. We were even more shocked when we reached the bottom floor after a long 70 story ride to see people waiting through the entire hotel lobby. People somehow managed to sneak their drinks in line, and some of the girls were worthy of R2's comment, "Better get a back up bottle, she has a 5 litre engine."  You know the type, falling off her stilettos, hair dishevelled and already three sheets to the wind from way to much liquid courage.

R2 and I can only handle the TAKA TAKA music for so long; we are more the Blues and Rock 'N Roll type, and his stomach was growling so we ended the night with a night cap of Red Bean and Steamed Shrimp Dumplings in the food court. Nothing says dumplings like an inappropriately short skirt and high heels. If my children were here, they would say I was "Cougarlicious."

The Helipad wasn't the only party we had amongst the stars that week. R2 wanted to host a party for  former colleagues that have all returned to Singapore.  These guys and gals, like R2 have worked all over the world, but managed to find their way back to this common meeting ground.

Already spoken for...sorry Susan
I was a little apprehensive about this bash. I wasn't sure if it was going to be "Revenge of the Nerds Meet The Big Bang Theory," or whether I should give Pocket Protectors as parting gifts.  My husband is a brilliant, ingenious hombre but when he starts talking Geekanese, I stick toothpicks under my eyelids to stay awake. Get a roomful of IT clones, and I thought I should serve Bits and Bytes and break out the Rubik Cubes.

Two things saved this affair. The first was the outstanding gift one of his guests gave us; a limited edition Jasper Goodall bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label. We are not whisky drinkers but in this case, we will make an exception. The second thing to save the soiree was our helper Susan and her efficient skills to barbecue the Satay, organize the catered Thai food, and keep the pantry spotless so no kitchen  hangover to contend with in the morning.  She, like my iPhone would be next in line for me to marry, if I wasn't already spoken for.

We hosted this party up on our penthouse under the stars. While it is safe to say I don't think a helicopter has landed on our "pad," I can assure you it is big enough; that or house all the overflow revellers from the party at the club. We couldn't see the Marina Bay Sands with our top view, but we were able to see all the way to the airport and watch the planes circling over the beach, ready for landing as we gorged on Satay.

What a week in Singapore. I never know what will occur; a party that rivals anything New York, London or Hong Kong can offer in a plush club, a storm that blows up out of nowhere making you scramble for cover or a concert with 50,000 people in the Indoor Stadium. This island has it all, you just have to look for it. Perhaps, Dear Reader,  I will tell you about the concert another day.

(Follow Layna in Asia on Mexico on My Mind site for her perspective of travels in Mexico)