Since I gave up subscribing to the Straits Times two years ago, my nephew has been sending old copies for me to read the bits that might interest me and which i’ve been unable to get free online.
Today, it was with a pleasant surprise that I discovered some of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s travel “secrets” that he shared at the Russia-Singapore Business Forum a week ago, when he turned up an hour late due to having to go for physiotherapy after a fall.
Speaking about Singapore’s water and food, he went on to add: “Some countries I go to, I bring my own water. I wash my teeth with my own water. When they give me food on a plate, I wonder was the plate washed right and what is the sponge that wipes it dry. And their salads, I view with great suspicion. I never take salads. And even so, I had terrific diarrhoea.. I’ve not had such experience in Singapore yet and I hope I never will.”
His revelations give me a sense of deja vu.
One friend I travel with insists on wiping all the surfaces of his hotel room as soon as we check in, never mind if our hotel is part of a famous chain. Yet another travels with his own can of Lysor to spray on the toilet seat and other surfaces in the hotel room’s attached bathroom!
Like MM Lee, I myself am slightly chary of salads and raw food like sashimi and oysters when I’m outside Singapore. Ditto when it comes to ice. For fear of getting a bad tummy.
And I got my habit of asking for hot water, preferably piping hot, when I first started visiting Bali regularly. Because Singapore friends who are long stayers there were doing just that! I reckon there must be some good reason for that practice. Then it became so easy to ask for “hot water”, when eating out, even in Singapore.
However, unlike my male travelling companions, I’m not particularly fussed about the cleanliness of hotel bathrooms or most of the furniture in the room, with the exception of the wardrobe and drawers.
I usually keep all my clothes in my suitcase and carry-ons because I don’t think they clean the hangers and the drawers after every guest checks out. As I don’t know what the previous occupant had hung on the hangers or put in the drawers, I prefer to play it safe.
For these and similar reasons, I guess that’s why many say “There’s no place like home.” Especially when home is Singapore!