Thursday, June 10, 2010

SINGAPORE STOPOVER AND QUICK VISIT TO SEE MY RELATIVES IN BORNEO

The exotic Marina Bay Sands hotel & casino complex in Singapore.

Marla and I visited Singapore & Borneo before our Wesco Fabrics buying and customer incentive trip to Bali in May. Singapore has awakened from a rather staid reputation to become one of Asia’s most exciting and dynamic destinations. An island city-state of 5,000,000, Singapore is the world’s fourth largest financial center, and fourth largest in terms gross domestic product and purchasing parity. Lamborghinis and Maseratis were everywhere! It’s an amazingly clean, organized city and a great place to get used to jet lag before heading off to other Asian locales.

Singapore has an amazing assortment of hotels that are beautifully designed and wonderfully staffed. This year we opted for the Grand Hyatt on Scott’s road, a block from Orchard Road, Singapore’s Rodeo Drive. I loved the polished stone bench with the water fall and gardens in the background behind the wall of glass.

The new Ion Orchard shopping complex is a sensory delight. I’ve never seen so many luxury brands, stocked with that much super high-end merchandise.

Marla checks out the displays in the first floor. We looked at boutiques on every floor. Thank goodness we have a bit of shopping discipline! I saw a man’s watch with a rubber wristband for $180,000!

There is major window display competition for attracting the eye of the luxury jewelry shopper. This necklace is totally over the top with diamonds and rubies.

The shoppers are very serious in this city!

We had lunch with Christine & Clement who carry Wesco Fabrics in their showroom in Singapore. They treated us to some unusual Malay delicacies.

While shopping on Tanglin Road we ran into a couple we once purchased Burmese antiques from in Chiang Mai Thailand, 10 years ago! It was a great surprise and fun catching up. Their main showroom, Naga Arts & Antiques, is now in Singapore. They mentioned that really great Burmese antiques are becoming harder to find.

Here we are 10 years before! We were negotiating prices at 10:00 PM at a German restaurant in Chiang Mai. I can’t believe we kept their kids up that late!

Looking at the sea in Kota Kinabalu.

The next chapter in Marla’s carpe diem quest took us to Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. We were very surprised to find modern high rise buildings in a region that once had numerous head-hunting tribes! The British North Borneo Company established colonies on Sabah in the 19th century and Kota Kinabalu, or Jesselton as it was once called, was an important trading center for the region. We stayed at the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru which was very nice.

Sunday market in Kota Kinabalu.

Time to visit with Dick’s relatives.

We visited the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center outside of Kota Kinabalu. A fabulous staff helps orphaned baby Orang Utans transition back into the wild. They are just like human babies and beyond cute!

Orang Utan feeding platform with some uninvited quests looking for lunch.

A baby is comforted by the ranger after he fell trying to climb a small tree. They are taught basic climbing skills at the center.

Let’s check out the bargains at this fabric store.

This guy could really sew. I wonder whether he wants to relocate to Denver and work in our custom workroom?

Lazy afternoon for two boys and an old boat in the KK harbor.

Why don’t my flower arrangements look like this? The Shangri-la had wonderful flowers.

Our last sunset in Kota Kinabalu. We flew to Singapore the next morning for an overnight stay before taking the early flight to Bali.

*** Stay tuned for two blog postings on incredible Bali. The Julia Roberts movie “Eat Pray Love” opens in August with great Bali locations shots! Not to be missed! The Wesco Fabrics’ adventure continues in 2011! You may want to join one of our next adventures. We travel to Positano & the Amalfi Coast in September 2011 and San Francisco/Yountville in June 2011.

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