Friday, January 31, 2020

First Class Brunei to Singapore

On my way out of Brunei I wrote some heartfelt postcards to friends and family.

Applying pen to paper really brings out my authorial flourish.

Sultan lookin' dapper on the local cash.

I love the durian hate. The airline's rules were "nothing that might blow up or catch fire on the plane, and also no freakin' durian because that fruit smells like ripe diapers".

I have heard good things about Singapore Airlines' first class experience so I burnt some points on a ticket from Brunei-Singapore-Beijing with an overnight stopover in Singapore. I owed it to the people back home to go on this luxurious flight and report every detail to them later.

Made an appearance at the Royal Brunei Airlines business class lounge in order to attend to some bidness.

The lounge was not serving alcohol but had quite the sodie selection.

The local newspaper had a couple of stories about how this was still a Hubei Province, China problem.

The sultan and the queen consort.

Brunei is so out of the way that I think the odds of me making my way back to these parts is pretty low. I am unfortunately not immortal and I have other hearts to break. I felt kind of sad about that. I had fun in this little country and I would recommend it to anyone who asked. One thing I've learned about the planet Earth is that islands are awesome. Being cut off from other lands gives places a chance to develop into something unique. They have their own species of monkey for crying out loud!

There was not a lot of activity up here in the box seats. More champagne for me!

"Welcome aboard Singapore Airlines. We invite you to take repose in your seat as your dining experience unfolds at your leisure. Your meals are created with your impeccable taste in mind. Savour culinary perfection from the exceptional menu by our International Culinary Panel of acclaimed chefs from the world over. Complimenting your gourmet selections, a curated selection of Champagne, fine wines and premium beverages is available to grace your table."

The worst part of my day was deciding between the 2008 Dom Perignon or the Krug Grande Cuvee.

"2008 Dom Perignon, Champagne, France

Champagne, with its famous limestone soils and cold climate, makes the world's greatest sparkling wines. The most famous of them all is Dom Perignon. DP, as it is affectionally known (haha), is named after the Benedictine monk who pioneered many of the techniques used in Champagne today. Dom Perignon is always from a single vintage and a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Dom Perignon is now overseen by recently appointed Chef de Cave Vincent Chaperon. 2008 was an exceptional vintage producing classic long-living wines of great purity. An outstanding DP(haha)."

"Krug Grande Cuvee, Champagne, France

Krug is indisputably one of the greatest Champagne Houses, and Grande Cuvee the archetype of their craftsmanship and savoir-faire. This prestige cuvee is a blend of more than 120 wines from ten or more different years, the champagne is then aged for a further 6 years in the cellars prior to release. Over 20 years are needed to craft each bottle. Stylistically, Grande Cuvee combines power with finesse- a brilliant Champagne of great quality and individuality."

I should have asked them to fill up a pint glass with half of each and put a couple cherries in there too thanks.

Royal Brunei Airlines plane.

I needed to do some eating to balance out my sipping. I'm not a doctor but I think otherwise I might tip over.

"Appetizer: Marinated lobster and shaved fennel, orange, sea beans salad with yuzu pepper dressing"

I think this may be my first encounter with sea bean, also known as samphire. It is mentioned by Shakespeare in King Lear:

"Half-way down Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!"

— Act IV, Scene VI, Lines 14-15

For my main course I went with "Famous Singapore Chicken Rice. Fragrant poached chicken with pandan flavored rice, accompanied with grated ginger, chilli and soya sauce. A renowned local favourite". With a description like that it was hard to pass up. Something has just occurred to me though. Maybe, especially on an empty flight like this, I should just start ordering more than one entre. I want to try all the things!

I continued on my local path with a "Singapore Sling. Enjoy this 1915 classic - a concoction of dry gin, Dom Benedictine, orange liqueur, cherry brandy, shaken with a lime and pineapple juice, a dash of Angostura bitters and Grenadine. A must-have in Singapore." I've had these once before at their birthplace at the Raffles Hotel. I think they were like $25 a piece!

Continuing on my path to carb-coma, last was dessert which was "Green teas tiramisu cake with strawberry compote".

I just gave that green tea tiramisu a death sentence.

Singapore's got boats for days.

I believe I made it to Singapore right before restrictions went into place that would have locked me out of the country. "Government officials announced on Friday, January 31, that all individuals having visited mainland China in the preceding 14 days will be denied entry into or transit through Singapore, due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak." I'm not sure if I counted as having "been" to China as I was only transiting through their airport, but I did not want to learn about this distinction the hard way.

The year of the rat.

I realized I had a free night certificate in the IHG hotel system laying around. They recently devalued the certificate to only be useful in lower level hotels. But I called them up with some obscure rule exception in hand, like a greasy point lawyer, and sure enough was able to use my certificate at the Regent Singapore. It was real nice.

Did have a rat problem but I looked the other way.

I booked a pub crawl tour thing to kill my night with. The meeting spot was this chubby Bird statue by Fernando Botero. No one came. I never got a cancelation email or anything either. Lame! Well at least I was in a happening part of town. I proceeded to try to entertain myself.

I caught the tail end of a lion dance for Chinese New Year. They are meant to bring good luck and fortune. I've only seen this once before at A-B.

I headed into the nearby Fullerton Hotel for a bite to eat at the bar.

Some interesting salty snacks arrived when I ordered a beer: on the left was fried fish skins, kind of like pork rinds. And on the right was a mix of like re-fried corn flakes mixed with cashews.

I ordered a mix of chicken and beef Singapore Satay. They were sitting atop slices of like rice that that been squeezed into a loaf.

I did some strolling and then I returned to the hotel. It was a really nice night.

Luckily our completely competent president* had this whole virus thing under control back home. Nothing to worry about.

The flight home from Beijing was still a go, but they did warn that the airport check-in process was going to be a bummer, and to arrive 3 hours early. Really looking forward to that. Nothing says 'let's avoid this Chinese virus" like packing a Beijing airport full of people. #Safety

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