Monday, 4 April 2011

Singapore Day 2. The Merlion Hotel.

So when we woke up today it was Raining. To quote my South African friends, ‘it was really coming down!’. The rain was pouring down like a thick grey blanket. So, that was the end of the plan to go to the Botanic Gardens and its National Orchid Garden.
We were staying in Traders Hotel at the end of Orchard road and it was a short stroll to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The 152 year old Gardens are home to thousands of tropical plants and the National Orchid Garden that houses the biggest collection of Orchids in the world. It will have to wait till another visit.
So we hit The Orchard Road and it’s many Shopping Malls. We started with Tanglin Mall right at the top of Orchard Road, then dodging the rain and trying to stay dry we admired the modern facades of the many shopping malls. The Mandarin Gallery was full of independent fashion and jewellery stores. ION Orchard was massive with eight levels of boutiques, restaurants and stores from food courts to art galleries! Along with Cartier, Prader ect.
As we walked down the road I recognised where the hotel had been on my last visit, it is now a large Mall with a New Look on the ground floor. But I noticed the buildings known as Peranakan Place. Located at Emerald Hill Road, off Orchard Road. Were the same,the restored original double-storey shophouses dating back to 1902 were renamed Peranakan Place in 1985. We stopped and had had a nice meal in the Alley Bar.
By now the rain has stopped and the sun had come out so we got back on our open top tour bus and went for a tour of China Town calling first at the Sri Mariamman Temple. This Temple; the oldest Hindu place of worship on the island, is decorated with about 73 Hindu deities, the wall around the temple is topped with figures of sacred cows and a few lions. 
Then we called in at the new and Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. This is a large Tang Dynasty inspired complex, said to contain a tooth from Buddha. I really wanted to find the old Thian Hock Keng Temple, but got lost! Not wanting to waste any more time, we went to the MRT at Raffles place to walk along the Singapore River. Walking past the UBO Plaza to see the Salvador Dali Homage to Newton and The Big Bird Sculpture. We crossed the Cavanaugh Bridge, getting a good look at Anderson Bridge and walked along to the place Raffles is said to have fist set foot on the island this spot is commemorated by a statue of the man….but he was covered in green balloons to celebrated St Patricks Day……so no photo! We walked past Boat Quay and its crescent of shophouses towards the Merlion.
The Merlion is the mythical half fish, half lion symbol of Singapore, corporate logo if you want. It guards the river as it opens up into Marina Bay. I was having difficulty location the Merlion, until I realized that he (is it a He) had been turned into a hotel!
According to Conde Nast Traveler as part of the Singapore Biennale 2011. Open for just 32 nights between 4th April and 5th May, The Merlion Hotel will be a single, luxury hotel room, temporarily constructed around The Merlion. The room, which is designed by acclaimed Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi, will be fully-fitted with a double bed, bathroom, amenities, personalized check-in, and even a dedicated Merlion Hotel butler. After spending the night under the lion's imposing gaze (the fountain will be switched off, HaHa!) guests will be invited to enjoy breakfast at the nearby Fullerton Hotel. The cost was £73.00 per night and if I had known I would have booked the room! No surprise, Its fully booked up.

The Fake Merlion.
To make up for the lack of the Merlion,(a small one has been erected instead), we had afternoon tea on the terrace of the Fullerton Hotel, confusing the poor waiter in the process as we should have been inside. And I have to report that It was very, very good. Sitting by the banks of the Singapore River having afternoon tea, I am a simple sole and it was pure bliss.