~ sad motel ~

4

abandoned motel

regional Thailand. yearning

for halcyon days.

 

 

2019  – a haiku challenge. 365 days, 365 poems.
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‘Ayam Curtain’ edited by June Yang and Joyce Chng

Ayam Curtain is an anthology of short fiction that captures the absolute essence of contemporary Singapore. This collection of page-long microfiction and longer short stories sets the tone of what real, local Singaporeans think and feel about their city. The writers are to be celebrated for capturing such a complex city so well.

When you visit Singapore, you get a sense of ostentatious futurism. The main tourist areas like Marina Bay Sands push the outer limits of consumerism, with gaudy flair. Gondolas through a mega mall, link your phone with a 3D light show and choose what images get displayed through the shopping centre, simulate ice skate through computer graphics.

And yet, the suburbs are a tale of old Singapore, of traditional kopitams and bowls of chicken rice. The smells of wet floor filter through the alleyways, the alleyways are overshadowed by hundreds of tiny pastel coloured apartments. Fading laundry thrown out into the harsh sun.

Ayam Curtain captures the disparity between these two worlds with a perceptive nostalgia. The stories are different, each with a unique perspective on modern Singapore. However recurring themes tend to surface- that a technological Singapore has advanced so fast that local identities are being left behind.

Cynicism.

Frustration.

If you read enough of these stories you start to look at modern Singapore differently. And you visit places like Gardens by the Bay with it’s alpine Cloud Forest and remarkable Flower Dome and you start to feel a similar resentment; that these places are for show, they are baubles filled with today’s environment, perfectly preserved for future generations, so that we as a consumerist society can advance and leave the environment and local culture behind. It’s devastating.

 

This anthology gave me insight and got me thinking. It was accessible and digestible, even if it was a little hard to swallow.

 

Ayam Curtain

goodreads.com/book/show/16119869-the-ayam-curtain

Long Bar at The Raffles, Singapore

The Long Bar is colonial charm in true Raffles prestige. When I was there, it was newly renovated and the only space open, while the rest of the Raffles was still undergoing renovation.

The Long Bar has been restored back to it’s early days, it’s former glory. Malaysian-rubber plantation style vintage decor, dark hardwood furniture, open and light with palm frond fans for aesthetic only. In keeping stead with classic traditions, Long Bar is probably the only place in the country where you’re encouraged to eat peanuts and wipe the shells onto the floor. It’s part of the novelty. Be realistic, you’re at the Long Bar to part take in old institutions, for the fanfare and the novelty.

Everyone heads to the Long Bar to try the world famous Singapore Sling, a cocktail born in this very bar decades ago. The traveler thing to do is to try it. However, don’t feel the social pull to have one. The cocktail menu offers a lot more. In fact, we were there at 11am and didn’t feel like alcohol so we perused the mocktail options and I was very pleased with mine. Keep in mind, you’re going for the ambience and to say you’ve been, and the Raffles know that, so don’t expect to escape for cheaps- the drinks are rather pricey. Some call it a tourist trap, others a slice of old-style luxury. You decide.

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Balios Resort, Khao Yai, THAILAND

Balios Resort is a short distance from the main happenings in Khao Yai. It offers a substantial amount of land in the Thai hinterland and facilities such as a restaurant, breakfast buffet, swimming pool and attached shopping village.

My stay at Balios resort was disappointing. Our initial impressions were that the property was a little naff, a little kitsch. It’s themed decor of the ancient Greek equine persuasion leaves much to be desired. Our room had lichen green walls and a bed hard enough to reset your back. My partner’s shower ran hot and cold, and our friends staying in the next room waded ankle-deep through the bathroom as the drain didn’t work properly.  The wifi is weak.  There are limited mountain views, despite being in the heart of the hinterland. The bar closes before too late, but I did manage to get myself a cocktail. Cheap, but disproportionate. The bartender was trying his best.

This resort. It serves a purpose. Basic bed and breakfast.

I’d like to make clear- our experience was through no fault of the service staff. It’s just that the facilities of this resort are run down, and it’s charm has worn off.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Private Tour, Fes Medina, MOROCCO

After this day, I’d say the only real way to see the Fes Medina is with a tour, and a private tour at that. The Medina is an absolute maze, a suburb of narrow alley ways with no signage and no directions- it would be impossible for a first-timer to navigate alone.

Our tour guide had lived in the Medina, grown up there and knew it like the back of his hand. He spent 9 hours showing us all his little haunts, all the craftsmen and the wares. There was the usual factory tour that you get on most tourist ventures, but these were interesting at least; the silversmith, the copperwares, the mosaic and ceramic factory and the knives sharpener. He gave us options for lunch and took us up some stairs to an authentic Moroccan restaurant. The food was sublime, showcasing an array of vegetarian salads and dishes that tasted chargrilled and smokey.

We saw the main tourist sites outside of the Medina walls as well. The Royal Palace, the tannery , the lookout from an ancient fort, the oldest university (and attached mosque)  in the world.

Honestly, taking a private tour is priceless. Our guide answered all our questions and saw us safely picked up and dropped off at our hostel.

 

 

*Hit the links for images of the Medina!

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.