FATWorld – 5th Destination or Splurging in Singapore

Why Singapore? Simply because there is no Star Alliance flight that goes directly to Brisbane…or, more honestly, because we wanted to splurge for a few hours after 2 months of good but rather basic lifestyle in Bali. We had seriously put our feet down on shopping bonanzas and other consumerism instincts and we now had to let the dogs out! We check into a Hilton Club Suite and a Paul Smith shirt + a pair of Bose travel-loudspeakers later we go to the lounge to taste some sparkly fluids plus a ton of raw fish delicacies. Yessss!!! one would say…but no…this would have been too easy… Daughter No1 and No2 decide to have one of the most miserable day since the beginning of the trip. So what was meant to be a recovery in luxury ended in a crisis meeting to see how we could limit damage. After deliberation, we nonetheless decide to go out at night with our two little terrorists (to try) to enjoy the Christmas feeling on Orchard Road. It is not as kitsch as Hong Kong…quite tasteful actually (just the 150 Decibel Xmas-progressive house DJ in front of the Wheelock Mall is rather unsettling). We enter the Takashimaya Shopping Centre and suddenly stand in front of the biggest Xmas tree we have ever seen. Perfect opportunity to take a family pic. We ask One Professional-Looking-Nikon-Holding-Tourist to frame us in front of this monster and we are not disappointed. The gentleman takes a real pleasure to make pictures of a European family.

We spend a good night in those gorgeous beds and feel ready for another round of Xmas shopping and hair-dressing in Singapore. The result is all too foreseeable. A Madame Visa in terrible mood, but Alain’s eyes are gleaming in front of his new gadgets and Isabel is looking awesome after a 3 hour hair cut and treatment.

We leave early to the airport. It is, the only airport where I want to check in at least 4-5 hours before departure. And we did well to plan an early check-in. At the baggage check-in, we are first told that we should have applied for Visas for Australia :-(….but Singapore is up to its reputation. 20 minutes and few desks later, the entire family has got nice shiny visas. We did well to plan an early check-in, because we found a great bouncing castle and kids jumped around FOREVER (which made them sleep so deeply for the entire trip to Brisbane – thank you Shangi Airport, thank you bouncing castle!). We did well to plan an early check-in, because it gave is a last opportunity to stuff our carry-on luggage with some last-minute “great” x-mas deals for the entire family including two super flashy pair of Flip-Crocs or Crocs-Flops. In the end, Singapore remains for us the World Shopping Capital of this world and we took shamelessly advantage of it til stepping in the plane.

FATWorld – Hong Kong First Impressions

Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

I have not posted anything for the last 2 weeks. And it has a reason… Hong Kong. Its is loud, it is crowded and it is good! What I like in a nutshell: the city, the food, the attractions, the island trails, the family friendliness, the hotel, the climate, the skyline. The three things I don’t like:  the non-queuing culture, the feeling of living in a henhouse, people pissing everywhere but in the toilet hole. Who thought that Hong-Kong is family friendly. Not me and I was proven wrong. First, people love Western kids especially when they are blonde. It gets sometimes too much and you feel you need to bodyguard your own kids as if they were some kind of stars. Our little ones turn already their head to avoid photography and frown when someone touches them. And then, there is the Ocean Theme Park, Disneyland and discovery trails. They love all the different means of transportation funny trams, ferries, railways, double-decker and other cable cars. It is safe to eat and drink everywhere, no mosquito bites, high medical standards, etc… The only concern we have is to lose them in the crowd and the very dense traffic. We feel Hong Kong City is best by night and kids, thanks to jet-lag have no problem staying up till midnight or later.

Hong Kong was given the World Shopping Award in 2008. And when you enter the city, it’s difficult to separate the reality from the fiction in Hong Kong. There is a consumption madness, it seems that Chinese (or people from Hong Kong) understand shopping as a way to live their dreams. What the dreams really are is difficult to understand. To be honest everything is difficult to understand here. We see the shiny surface, the glimmering of the skyline, the abundance of lights and shops but what lays underneath….?

We arrived during the Mid-Autumn festival. It is a time that celebrate’s season change. The traditional dish to eat is a Moon Cake…. Well…the mooncake is maybe the best way to describe Hong Kong. It looks beautiful, shiny and yummy. It is wrapped in a magnificent gold-ornated casing but when you take a first bite…well it is interesting…a totally unknown taste.

Hong Kong will remain in our memories as one incredible infrastructure for people to live and work effeciently. It is functional to the extreme. Could I live here, hell no…but I would love to visit it every year.