There is a building in Singapore called Orchard Towers. It goes by another rhyming moniker… It has four floors. And certain females “work” there. Do the math.
It’s a dodgy building which you can’t really walk around as a lone male without getting cajoled or cat-called into a darker realm.
Nestled between the business emporiums on the third floor is Thai Tantric. Out of the way, tucked into a corner, it stands alone and looks very very average. At best. Behind the banality though lies a very authentic and very very tasty Thai food experience.
Having been there twice now I have seen two sides to the Thai Tantric experience. The first time it was around 500pm or so and the place was empty and we had the pick of seats (so we chose to sit outside in the dank corridor).
The second time visiting there was about 7pm or so and the queue snaked outside as every table was bursting at the seams. We waited thirty minutes to get a table. And it was worth it. But give me no wait any day.
The service is fine but it’s the food that will linger long in your memory. On both occasions I had the Thai Spicy Chicken Wings and they are. Truly spicy. The kind that stings but gives you that pleasure soon afterwards. The burn lingers. And it’s welcomed.On the first visit there one of the surprisinghorizoners got the Tom Yum Soup I believe and it nearly blew his brains out. But in a good way. On the second occasion we shared some other dishes; the green curry was tasty and flavourful, the phad thai juicy and succulent, and we got some sort of shredded beef which was also delicious. Beer wise you can wash everything down with a Singha beer.
With Singapore Airlines miles to burn before I shuffle off this mortal coil island state I decided to experience SQ’s very new Boeing 787-10 business class offering on a local route. Bangkok was (and is) being used by SQ to ease the 787-10 into their network of flights. So Bangkok it was and it was quite fitting as Bangkok was my first introduction to Asia way back in 2006 and so it would be my last city to visit in Asia whilst living here. This time around.
Our flight number was SQ982 (9V-SCB which is listed as Brand New on FlightRadar) and we would be taking off from Terminal 2 which meant a nice wait in the SilverKris Lounge Business Class area. This lounge has a very nice low key vibe in the quite large sitting area. Muted colours and comfortable chairs.
The food and beverages on offer are immense and I was happy with the chicken rendang that I had. Taittinger champagne was the order of the day (happy birthday to me) which was fine.
The three hours and > 3 Taittingers went by very quickly and before we knew it we were heading towards our departure gate of E11. We timed it perfectly to saunter on board without queuing and we veered off to the left to the awaiting cocoon-like business class section.
Welcoming us on board with a smile at the front door were our crew who would become friendlier at different parts of our flight individually…it just took some time for certain ones to warm up to some eager 787-10 fliers!
The seating in SQ’s 787-10 business class section is in a 1-2-1 configuration with alternating rows changing their specific layout a little bit as you can see in the below official layout diagram from SQ. It is worth noting when I booked this flight Seatguru didn’t have accurate seating map for the 787-10; they have since rectified that.
As you can see for couples the even numbered rows in the middle would be more suited. Or the other rows; depending on how your relationship is going. For solo travellers or for a couple who both like to sit by the window the side seats on the odd numbered rows are best and also have the feeling of more privacy and cosiness (see video report for more seat antics).
The seat itself is comfortable and testing the lie flat feature led me to believe it would be a very good seat for long haul flights and trying to get some shut eye. Around the seat you have a crazy amount of nooks and crannies to store everything you could possibly need. USB ports and power port are also part and parcel with this seat.
As a business class flyer you can “Book the Cook” which gives you a wide variety of meals up to a few days before the flight departure. I went Singaporean and opted for the chicken rice. As I stuffed my face in the lounge beforehand it still was very tasty but I was pretty full. Before the meal I was presented with a very nice birthday cake from the head purser Mr. Pan (pre-arranged by the travelogydepartment guru). Much appreciated for the gesture on both SQ’s and TD’s behalf. Also more champagne was had.
There are two toilets at the front of the business cabin and two economy toilets behind the iron curtain. I went to the both of them and the business class one is only slightly bigger.
So a word on the crew. They were nice just not overly chatty. We got in to a nice long conversation about the plane and staffing duties with a female attendant at the start of the flight who was more than happy to give us more details about her role and the planes she flies. Mr. Pan as head purser was attentive but not overly so; but he brought the cake so there’s that. The other female attendant didn’t really make herself available for chatting or inquiring into if we needed anything until I offered the rest of my birthday cake to the crew. She was pretty happy after that..
To compare this to my return flight on the A330 service I was being called by my last name with every question put to me; it just came across nicer like they really appreciated me more. Has to be said too, that the 787-10 business class was nearly empty and the return A330 was completely full so it wasn’t down to passenger load.
In flight entertainment by SQ is probably the best there is on any airplane. Ever. A never ending supply of movies and TV. Screens are touch screen with this new business class setup but with the option of using the remote in your armrest also. It’s only when I fly on other so-called top class airlines that I realise how much Singapore Airlines cram into their in-flight entertainment; other airlines’ offerings just pale in comparison.
So what else? I’m not sure. It is certainly an amazing hard product on offer. The seats are fabulous and the rest of the Singapore Airlines experience that comes along with it just makes it a top class business class offering.
Nothing too much to report here apart from the Priority/Express lane pass you get as a business class passenger that allows you to skip the general throng of tourists at immigration and head to the indicated express lanes. A nice welcome after a flight. It was my first time to grab the Airport Express train from BKK and it was very convenient and cheap (40 Baht). Staying at a hotel near one of the stations on this line is highly recommended. No more taxi scrambles…unless you have a tonne of luggage I guess.
Get yourself on a 787-10 to experience what it’s like! As of writing only Singapore Airlines have the 787-10 in service with 4 aircraft in service (9V-SCA, 9V-SCB, 9V-SCC, and 9V-SCD) servicing Bangkok, Perth, Osaka, and Kuala Lumpur (not sure for how long though).
On a forgotten and cold January evening back in 2008 after a long day at work I took two trains from mein Zuhause in Düsseldorf through Köln HbF to Koln-Nippes. The destination was the Kulturkirche Köln and an Iron and Wine performance. The fact that I almost fell asleep standing up was not entirely up to Sam Beam’s lullaby-ish crooning vocals slathered atop soothing drifting melodies. As I mentioned it was a long day at the office and the venue was manically centrally heated (which was unusual for an ex-church). The commute was a killer too.
After writing all that out I now realise that I actually saw Iron and Wine along with Calexico in Krefeld (on the back of their collab album In The Reins) which is a little northwest of Düsseldorf back in 2006. From what I remember I had a sick stomach. So, man, I have not had a lot of luck with watching Iron and Wine.
So I was happy to test out my stamina and sickness levels now in 2018 in Singapore after a long day at work to see Iron and Wine again. Ten years later. At least there would be air-con to keep me sitting up-right. But sitting is more conducive to sleeping so I was worried.
Before getting into the concert allow me to….allow myself…a minute to dissect why I like Iron and Wine. I have no clue how I got into them. Their first release The Creek Drank the Candle in 2002 was followed up in 2004 by Our Endless Numbered Days. I guess Iron and Wine just clicked with me on an emotional level; most of the songs are melancholic and soothing. I think I needed that type of music in my listening repertoire. Songs like Sodom, South Georgia, Bird Stealing Bread, and Love and Some Verses still stand out to me as meaningful over 16 years later. I’ve lost track somewhat of Iron and Wine’s offerings from 2009 or so on (the last album I remember delving into was 2007’s The Shepherd’s Dog and then I just lost track) until 2017’s Beast Epic but I’ve put in some listening time recently to get back into the Iron and Wine listening mood. There is a mood involved. It’s not work-out music.
So to the concert then. The last time I was in the Capitol Theatre was to watch The Force Awakens. It’s an historic theatre which dates back to 1930 or so and has been renovated numerous times with the last face-lift taking place only a few years ago. There are no food or drinks available once past the ticket collectors. The sound seemed to be very good. The seating is quite flat so you end up craning your neck around whoever sits in front of you.
Iron and Wine came on stage with a subtle musical nod. Starting off with the meandering Trapeze Swinger the scene is set for the rest of the night. Sam Beam’s vocals are like polished wood. Not mahogany or something heavy; more like willow or ash. Yeah, that’s it. His vocals carry each song to places where they wouldn’t go without him. He is a great talent and it was a pleasure to hear him perform.
But wait. I had a problem with the performance.
It’s just that every song is warped into new and weird melodies and in different keys to the studio albums. I love live music and I appreciate artistic expression but I’ve never witnessed any artist radically change the melody so much as Iron and Wine. Bird Stealing Bread, which is one of my favourite songs, lost it’s sweet chorus line which brings together the song beautifully. The live version just aimlessly went along with no central hook. Does Fever Dream really need to plod along any slower? It’s one of Iron and Wine’s slowest songs on track and the live version just stretches it out and again the melody gets warped into something unrecognisable. Call me old fashioned but I want a live version of the album song. Sure, tweak it a bit but don’t make it a mutant.
Anyway, that’s my gripe but I did enjoy the night. Musically it was very polished and Sam Beam’s voice is something to behold live (even if it’s a twisted version of the album songs!).
I will leave you with two versions of Bird Stealing Bread and you can decide which one works better.
I donned my ranger’s jacket, compass, backpack, hiking boots, and a grimace to make my way over to the far west of Singapore to catch Stereophonics this week. The [email protected] in Jurong East has become a popular event venue in recent months for small to medium bands to visit. A lil’ out of the way for the core city citizens but off I went.
Again, as I’ve been in Singapore for what I would call an expanded stretch of time this was the second chance I got to see Stereophonics in Singapore. The first time was way back in the nose bleeds of 14th August 2013 surrounded by the humid green confines of Fort Canning park on the back of their Graffiti On The Train tour. The [email protected] venue is an interesting one; it’s on the third floor of a department store. “Where are they playing? In the kitchen appliances section?” I quipped to nobody as I escalated my way through household sundries. I was wrong, the event hall is nearest to the sofa set section.
Stereophonics put on a good show. It’s all on the shoulders of Kelly Jones’ vocals it has to be said. If he caught a bad virus that ruined his vocal chords somehow that would not be good for them in the long run. His voice can be raspy and melodic, soulful and soft, high-pitched and sweet. All at the same time.
Their songs have amassed over time like stones (not the Rolling Stones, just stones). Their albums have been rolled(!) out every two years since 2013’s …Train. Before that there was a 4 year break back to 2009’s Keep Calm and Carry On which had been their last release in their first series of pumping out albums every two years (Pull the Pin 2007, Language.Sex.Violence.Other 2005, You Gotta Go There To Come Back 2003, JEEP 2001, Performance and Cocktails 1999, and Word Gets Around 1997). That’s some regular workflow right there but perhaps that 4 year break was good as 07’s and 09’s releases are probably the weakest in their tome..
Anyway, the concert. Very good. Great pace and a great mix of the better parts of their back catalog. Starting off with a couple of the more recent hits they get into their set-list with a laid back swagger. C’est La Vie, in particular, getting the size nines a tappin’. They dip forward and back in time throughout the main body of their show and it’s quite a confident selection of standout songs from their oeuvre. Stand outs for me were Have A Nice Day, Step On My Old Size Nines, Grafitti on The Train, and Traffic. Which is quite a varied selection from over the years. One song which was played due to technical songs was Bill Davey’s Daughter (which can be a major highlight of their set list if they wish) which rarely gets a run out usually. Nice. It has to be said a Stereophonics songs are best when Jones can spill his emotional guts out with his amazing vocal range and all these songs are prime examples of this.
Rounding out the main set list were a trio of older classics that take me back to 1999 and college in Dundalk. The aforementioned Traffic, Just Looking, and Local Boy In The Photograph. I slipped back to the back for a sneaky taxi run as I knew they only do a two song encore (thanks setlist.fm). Their usual encore are the raucous Bartender and the Thief followed by the sweetly sugared pumped up rock love song Dakota. Both excellent send off songs.