Colonial Gate Crashing
One of my favorite treats while on the road is to drop by a fancy hotel and pretend that I have a civilized life. I usually order a drink, chill out in the air conditioning, and shamelessly avail myself of the bathroom amenities.
Here’re a few of my favorite colonial haunts in Southeast Asia that I visited over the last few months…
Singapore – Raffles Hotel
An iconic hotel with its own drink: the Singapore Sling, bright red and served with a cherry. You sip this concoction while munching peanuts in the hotel’s second floor Long Bar. The hotel even has its own museum which I popped into in order to gawk at the famous people who have stayed over the years. Fun way to beat the steamy Singapore heat!
Rangoon – The Strand
It was slightly sad to see The Strand during our whirlwind tour of Burma’s capital Rangoon, as it was situated next to other colonial-era buildings that hadn’t faired as well. The once majestic main strip was pockmarked by boarded up buildings. Hopefully now that the country is opening up, some of these buildings can regain their former grandeur. In the meantime, The Strand is still the place to be seen.
Manila – the Manila Hotel
I was on a strict budget in Manila, but I still managed to park it for a few hours and sip a cup of coffee in the hotel’s elaborately decorated lobby. The chandeliers, soft music and restful colors were a nice escape from the chaos of the city. (Actually I like the grittiness of Manila, but the hotel offers a nice respite!).
Colombo – Galle Face Hotel
My friend Utthama took me here for a double dose of enjoyment! We had high tea on one of the verandas, then stayed on to watch the sunset while perched on the patio overlooking the Indian Ocean. The alfresco bar is called Sea Spray and for good reason. The waves were crashing pretty forcibly into the barrier wall below. Nice!!!