Singapore Pride

Coming back to Singapore close to her 50th birthday is an extra special experience. We went to the Clifford Pier area to watch a part of the National Day parade rehearsal, and I must say, the government’s really gone all out for this year’s Jubilee celebrations.

I overheard a local complaining, “Wah, this year’s fireworks cost more than half a beeeeeeeee-llllion dollars leh. Wasting so much tax payers’ money!”

For all its quirks, idiosyncracies and ever-present whiners (we are a nation of complainers), I am really proud of how beautiful and modern our young country is.

From the lush greenery peppered throughout the concrete jungle, the state-of-the-art skyscrapers an architectural visual treat, the kids’ water play areas in many tourist attractions and shopping malls, the myriad of international arts and music bigwigs showcased at our theatres, the powers-at-play has tried to make our island a little more liveable, a little more human, and have a little bit more soul for its 4-5 million residents.

Like what our beloved drag queen Kumar said at his stand-up comedy show I watched last week, Singaporeans need to travel more and live overseas to appreciate and be thankful for what we have. Other countries, emerging and developed, can only dream of having our accomplishments in their much longer lifetimes. Then again, they didn’t have someone like our late Prime Minister/Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away early this year, to blaze the path with his take-no-prisoners attitude.

Highlights of the parade: amazing air and naval military display with the beautiful Singapore Flyer, the Art&Science Museum and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel as our backdrop. When the fireworks start, the backdrop was transformed, with a kaleidescope of jeweled sequins mirrored on the 3 towers of the hotel.

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Waxing lyrical about an all-inclusive

So, after surviving 4 out of 7 days in an all-inclusive hotel, my conscience got the better of me. Perhaps I’ve been too quick to pass judgment. There must be merit to such hotels if they keep getting fully booked, get raved about on trip advisor and have a minimum of 8.0 rating on major hotel booking sites. (I am trying to justify my lapse of sound decision-making to my husband here)

1.  Value-for-money

You get easy access to food and alcohol from 8am to 11.30pm everyday. The variety is great and the bartenders are generous with the liquor. For a place as touristy as Ibiza, eating out can be a pretty costly affair.

Quantity does not = quality though. I think the chefs at the restaurant tried their best, but when the majority of customers prefer white foods and unhealthy carbs, it’s not surprising to see french fries, pasta and pizza a staple at mealtimes. We hired a car and drove out most days so we ended up paying more for car hire and petrol. 

  2. Access to good (not great) facilities and entertainment

Most beaches in the popular towns are filled with sun lovers and deck beds and umbrellas might be difficult to get. You also pay at least €8 for a deck bed and another €8 for shade. Our hotel has a nice swimming pool, a separate water slide park and a nice private beach for hotel customers only.

There are also arcade games in our lobby but sadly, half of them are usually out of order. Have I already mentioned bingo night and kids’ disco? Day time activities include Aqua Zumba, football matches, darts and kids activities in a kids club for 4-10 year olds. For people who enjoy sharing their precious holiday time with hordes of strangers playing relay games, an all-inclusive will definitely satiate their dystopian appetite for ‘adventure’. You get a certificate at the end of the day for active participation too.  

  3. Family-friendly

I must admit that an all-inclusive must be kids’ paradise. They get to eat chicken nuggets, french fries n ice cream everyday, swim and play with other kids. Then again, I see many families get so comfortable sitting by the pool all day long, they do not venture beyond the wet bar to explore what this beautiful island has to offer. It might be abit of an inconvenience driving through heavy traffic and being out til late at night with kids. Our kids whined a bit but overall, I was glad we were able to spend some quality time, just the four of us, away from other screaming kids and from the free-flow wet bar. Kids this young actually do not need that much stimulation. Give them a small body of water to wade in, a beach ball to throw or buy a cheap local souvenir and they’ll happy as a lark.

Even after stating some positives of such hotels, I still don’t think it’s something we will do in the future. At least we’ve tried and know for sure we are never, ever going to be included in an all-inclusive hotel’s niche market.

No love lost there.

I don’t see us doing cruise ships in our old age either. (famous last words)

Our brand of family fun… 

    
    
   
  
  

Confessions of a Virgin ‘all-inclusive’ tourist

Welcome to Ibiza! We had pretty high expectations before flying here that Alan n I will be eating in gourmet restaurants, rubbing shoulders with celebrities and well-known DJs whilst pumping our fists in the air to catchy techno beats. Oh, with our 2 kids passed out somewhere of course. 

Imagine my culture shock when we stepped onto the huge terrace at our hotel after we checked in. Instead of heart-thumping bass beats, we walked into a Bingo fest! Apparently this is a nightly event!!! The m.c translated all the numbers in Spanish, English n German. That pretty much summed up the demographics of the people that usually do an all-inclusive hotel stay, at least at our hotel. I think the whole of Essex and Liverpool are here and quite a huge number of Germans. You can tell from the number of sun deck chairs reserved at 8.00am with towels when all swim facilities only open at… 11a.m. Did I mention all-you-can-eat buffet and free flow BOOZE? ‘Nuff said!  

    
   
   

 All-inclusive hotels generally refer to hotels that provide all meals and some form of entertainment and sporting activities for kids and adults. 

The hotel’s water theme park and arcade games were a hit with the kids, especially with arcade games that actually work. We enjoyed relaxing under the sun (yes we found 3 unreserved sun deck chairs!!!), going down challenging water slides and the lovely buffet spread at the restaurant. We also loved hanging out by the pool, though there’s not much eye candy to look at. 

One thing I’ve noticed is that the service staff seem like they really really enjoy their work! Be it making 8 complicated cocktails for 1 person, standing behind the big piping hot pan of paella, or clearing tables efficiently, the Spanish locals do so with a sincere smile that I felt deeply. 

It’s only day 1 of our stay in an all-inclusive and we are soooooo ready to strip off our bright colored hotel wristbands, hire a rental car and head to the other parts of the island and the town. Hopefully in the next few days the island of Ibiza and our hotel experience can win us over. Maybe, just maybe, I might even learn how to play Bingo.