DAY 14: (Brian) Singapore is an incredibly modern, safe, clean, and cosmopolitan city. It thrives on the diverse cultural mix of people and influences from all over Asia with many ex-pat Americans, Brits and Australians all taking advantage of the squeaky clean, rich environment for raising kids. Modern architecture and constant urban renewal seem to be the rule with cranes and construction crews building without end. No sign of recession here with bustling high-end shops, malls and boutiques up and down the Orchard Avenue area near our hotel. You can buy any high-end item here but don’t you dare drop any litter or worse – chewing gum or cigarette butts – on the street for fear of strict prosecution. I notice, also, alcohol seems pricey here. Vices of all types highly discouraged, it seems.
But then there’s FOOD! Did I mention the food?!There are food centers like Lau Pa Sat with dozens of “hawker” stalls where you can eat ANY type of Asian or Indian delicacy for very little money.I’ve always had an affinity for genuine Cantonese cuisine, something that seems increasingly rare even in New York City and non-existent in New Jersey where I live. So I am in Chinese food heaven here! Steamed fresh fish in ginger soy sauce, fresh Asian greens in Hoisin sauce, BBQ Satay skewers (chicken, beef or lamb) and giant shrimps. Not to mention the Dim Sum stalls that steam the real deal: dumplings, shumai and buns of all types in small bamboo baskets prepared while you wait. And, exotic fruit drinks, teas and beers to wash it down with.Each stall has its own specialty and the aggressive vendors vie for your business, following you with unrelenting offers of tables and menus. Needless to say, none of us are losing weight on this tour.Our concert venues started with a fantastic large stage in the middle of the City’s Botanical Gardens.Enclosed by a giant clam-shaped structure surrounded by a lily pond and a beautifully manicured lawn rising up a hill it, couldn’t have been more ideal with a light breeze and state-of-the-art sound gear on tap. I kept saying (as a joke), “We just can’t work this way!” to Shana and our ever-helpful State Department representative, Rachel.Johnny was even more animated on this big stage (if you can imagine that) with grand comic gestures and running leaps to the edge of the stage in a mock threat of jumping into the lily pond (something I was afraid he might actually do). The crowd ate it up and we played two encores for them.Next day was an intimate setting in a public library in the brand new Esplanade Cultural Center at the breathtaking new waterfront area. They should call this city Shangri La.We enjoyed the fine acoustics and an in-tune baby grand piano even when the sustain pedal broke in the fifth number. No one seemed to mind the piano notes ringing into one another or Johnny lying on his back under the piano in the middle of the set in an attempt to fix it. Maybe we’ll leave that in the show.Our day off consisted of a visit to the amazing Asian Civilization Museum (Danny and me) and a visit to the unique Nighttime Safari Zoo by the four of us. But Danny has shared that already.
Next stop, Cambodia!