at the Ascott Raffles Place but as i had indicated in my Tweets, the “wotever happens” happened and it had nothing to do with the prize which lived up to all I had been expecting.
But I’m getting ahead of my story.
On Oct 30, the check-in was smooth, low-key and friendly. The receptionist and a bell boy showed us up to Suite 1807 assigned as the 3-day 2-night prize-stay I had won in the Twitter re-tweet contest in September 2009.
Apart from the missing long bath, the one-bedroom apartment at the Ascott Raffles Place turned out to be exactly as the video link provided at http://www.the-ascott.com.sg/ASRP/ depicts. Still, that’s no loss as I think long baths are both dangerous and dirty.
Indeed Suite 1807 came with real bonuses. Besides complimentary Internet services (otherwise that would have cost $10 per hour), the suite had a large open deck or balcony opening from the bedroom.
Friends and family members who visited excitedly discussed the demise of the Neptune Theatre and what was coming up in its place while one recent alumnus from Societe Generale reminised about her old office at ORQ (One, Raffles Quay) whose twin towers acted like sunshades for my suite.
So why didn’t we spend even one night there? Why didn’t we max out the fully equipped kitchen- despite bringing masses of rice, we didn’t use the rice cooker –altho I’m not sure it was there, as there was no time to inspect the apartment fully; we didn’t even finish all the beer we brought and certainly didn’t try each of the multiple brands of 3-in-1 coffee that we packed. Even the snacks and nibbles were barely touched but the single bottle of Sauvignon Blanc did find takers quickly, because at 750ml, it wasn’t much to go round.
The reason we left boiled down to one simple fact: my mum. At her age, her ability to adjust has been reduced to almost zero. Her attention span is much diminished. Although she was as excited as me and her maid about the prospect staying at the Ascott, she wanted to go home almost as soon as we checked in.
It’s what I call the “I’ve seen it, now let’s go home” syndrome.
Her poor maid Siti, who was lapping up the luxury of the Ascott, tried her best to cajole Popo to stay, at least for one night. She wanted to sleep in a five-star hotel just once, even if others like mum has become immune to luxury and wanted only her own bed.
So she tried to distract mum with sweet talk while I dashed out for some food to create further distraction. Mum is the epitome of the old Chinese saying that when you are old, you care more about your stomach than your looks. Lau Pa Sat thankfully was just a hop, skip and jump away from the Ascott.
The food choices at Lau Pa Sat were mind boggling and gentle on the pocket. I wasn’t adventurous as I simply didn’t have time to browse. So I settled for three packs of dinner from the Mixed Rice stall and two large popiah rolls, all of which set me back for less than $11.
Back at the Ascott, two old friends rolled by after work bearing more food: a whole box of Korean grapes from ST and a large box of petite cakes from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf from KY n ST.
Because everyone was hungry, dinner, washed down by a spot of plonk, cakes and chatter didn’t take us to much beyond 8pm when mum began the refrain again. “I know this is a home away from home but that’s for people who don’t live in Singapore.”
I can’t fault that logic and in the end decided to throw in the towel on just one condition: be4 we leave, let me try the shower, the great smelling shower gel from L’ Occitane and of cos the feel of the soft thick bath towel against my skin.
Thereafter, it was a whirlwind of cleaning up the apartment (didn’t want to leave a mess in case we didn’t come back the next day), repacking and frantic texting to other guests who were scheduled to drop by for a Friday night chill out after shows, late work or apres dinner. “Dn’t cme. M insists on going hme.”
It may sound like a comedy of errors but believe it or not, we were back at the Ascott by noon the following day after mum was convinced by my sister Daffy and her family to have lunch there — with food bought from nonya eatery, Ivin’s.
It was a good meal and the surroundings made it better but for those intending to use the Ascott apartments for a gathering, then learn from our experience: remember to bring extra crockery, cutlery and glasses as each one-bedroom residence caters strictly to only two occupants.
For us, we simply made do, as though we were on a picnic, with some drinking from glasses, others from cups; some eating with spoons; others with forks; using plates and bowls indiscriminately, so long as there was enough to go round.
Consolation: we ate from real china and drank from decent glasses, even if not using the correct stuff for the food and beverages; no plastic for us.
Once the meal was over, distraction time ended and mum wanted to go home again, much to the disappointment of her maid who really enjoys luxury!
This time, I stayed back. As my sister n family cld take them home and also, as other friends and relatives I had asked to come over for a “look see” were on their way and it would be too ridiculous if I were to text them with the same message: “Dn’t cme. M insists on going hme.”
Four more sets of visitors dropped by, bearing food and good company. In particular, I must mention Juliana who — despite the rain, the thunder and that there was no parking facilities at the Ascott which meant she had to brave the elements in a nearby carpark –still managed to bring enough nasi lemak and otak from the Mackeral Otak people to last us not only for dinner that night but also for dinner at home the following nite.
And of course the inclement weather starting on Oct 30 evening was what put a pall on what would otherwise have been an A+ week-end stay, even with mum’s vacillating desire to go home to her own bed. (She did try the gi-normous bed in the Ascott bedroom but it was too high and hard from what she’s used to, which isn’t a criticism of what the serviced residence provided. Au contraire!)
Hence after the last set of visitors on my 2nd nite, with the sky still weeping intermittantly, I decided to call it quits and went home with my brother, his wife and an aunt. And not forgetting some freebies that I didn’t get to use, such as two tooth brushes and two small bottles of L’Occitane shampoo.
In retrospect, it might have been better if I had opted for an Ascott apartment in Kuala Lumpur. Being so far away might have deterred mum from being at her unreasonable — yet logical — best about wanting to go home.