The sheer pleasure of flying with Singapore Airlines prepared me for my first trip to Singapore some years ago. Rather interestingly, the crew of Singapore Airlines rotate between Economy, Business, First Class and Suites, the impact of which is that all passengers get to enjoy the same quality of excellent service.
From having your very own private cabin – wardrobe and all – with a choice of Dom Pérignon and Krug champagnes and a pleasing selection of fine wines, to food prepared by renowned international chefs, there is no better way to fly than in Singapore Airlines Suites. Indeed, it was on my first trip as a Suites passenger that the notion of setting my latest novel, The Brigadier’s Daughter, in Singapore, came to me.
On approach into Singapore, the sight from out of the clouds lends itself to the orderliness of what repeatedly spellbinds me. On the drive into the city, rows of great umbrella-spread rain trees border the highway, until they are taken up by tall palm trees, and it is at this point that Singapore begins to demonstrate its ingenuity. Running along the centre of the road is an almost never-ending stretch of flowers, planted in huge movable flower planters, all of which instantly introduces travellers to a sophisticated and elegant society in the extreme. In the event of an emergency, the flower planters can be moved to the side to create an additional temporary runway.
Everything that is so efficient, smooth, comfortable and safe about Singapore Airlines is heightened by what Singapore itself has to offer.
For The Brigadier’s Daughter, among the many matters I was keen to address, I wanted to write about Singapore’s hygienic standards. I especially wanted to highlight the quality of the food served from hawker stalls and the stringent regulations set in place by the authorities that have to be met by all hawkers. This allowed me to create an elderly character, a Hainanese chicken rice vendor Lim Teng Jin, who relives memories of a naive but passionate love affair. Ultimately, in the tale, the fact that he is living in Singapore allows for his very survival. I am not saying that every Suites passenger will be infused with creative thoughts, but I am saying that for me that’s how it happened.
That a man of advanced years, such as Jin, can wander freely about the city in total safety, as all citizens and visitors do, is indicative of a system where safety is as important to Singaporeans as hygiene. So, to experience this for yourself, I suggest your first port of call ought to be Singapore Airlines.
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This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.