Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tourists, Travelers and Singapore Slings

While you probably don't dwell on it, I'll wager you already know, or can guess, the difference between a tourist and a traveler. Per industry professionals, tourists can easily be spotted simultaneously juggling their cameras, guidebooks and maps. They generally make no attempt to speak the language of the country they are visiting, and they dress as they do at home. You rarely find them in locations that are off-the-beaten-path and the only locals with whom they have contact are tour guides. Conversely, travelers tend to blend into the environment. They've studied local cultures before their arrival and they are ready to learn and experience new things. Travelers consider their trips to be adventures rather than vacations and many return home in need of rest because, God's honest truth, not all adventures are relaxing. I considered myself a tourist for years, but was dispelled of that notion by a tour guide who overheard a heated conversation I had with an Indian cook regarding the preparation of Gobi Manchurian. He dubbed me a traveler while I argued techniques for frying cauliflower.

India was our third Asian adventure. Other Asian trips followed, but because these adventures required hours of flight time and layovers that would make even the young old, we never got to Indonesia. That changed this year when space on a trip to Bali and Java became available. We braced ourselves for the 2 day journey that would get us there. It started with a 2 hour flight to San Francisco. Five hours later we boarded the plane that took us to Hong Kong and then on to Singapore. That stretch of the trip racked up 18 hours of air time and another layover of nearly 5 hours before we took the final 3 hour flight to Bali.

Strangely enough, time passes fairly quickly on these flights. The ones we have taken all leave San Francisco at 1 or 2 in the morning, and, whatever airline we have been on, they all seem to follow the same routine. As soon as the plane is airborne, warm towels are distributed and juice is offered. About 2 hours into the flight, the first meal of the trip is served and beer, wine and spirits are made available to those who want them. Those who fly economy - that includes Bob and I - have to know what is available if they want something other than what appears on the service cart. The Singapore Sling, the signature drink of the airline on which we flew, had to be asked for. Later on, we would be served another full meal, but snacks, sandwiches and noodles were available at all times in the galley. There's usually wine there as well.

Once meal service is complete, it's mandatory lights out. I generally doze off, but it is a twilight kind of sleep and it doesn't take much to wake me up. As it happened, we flew on Easter Sunday and there was a church group traveling with us. I don't know what time zone they used as a reference, perhaps they were working on the theory that it was sunrise somewhere in the world, but they had a Bible reading to begin their Easter Sunday and, despite its muted tones, it caused me to stir. About an hour later, two young men sitting in the aisle across from me, briefly stood. On returning to their seats, they quietly responded to the Muslim call to prayer. There is now an "app" available to traveling Muslims that signals the time for prayer as well as the direction of Mecca.

I nodded off again, but real sleep eluded me. Rather than fight it, I decided to catch up on all the movies I missed this year. Thanks to Singapore Airline, I can proudly say I have seen all of this year's Academy Award nominees before next year's are announced. That doesn't often happen. On the return trip, I was also able to finish 4 books given to me by a friend, so my time, coming and going, was well spent. The upshot of the trip, despite its length and our lack of sleep was we had no jet lag when we arrived in Bali. That has never happened before.

I had my first Singapore Sling on the flight to Bali and I want to share the recipe for the drink with you. It is a gin based cocktail that was first served at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel a century ago. Raffles is a a Singapore landmark that today charges $35 a pop for the drink. Now, I must be honest with you. I'm not a cocktail person and the color and taste of the sling reminds me of the canned citrus "Bug Juice" that was served in hospitals years ago. Others, however, enjoy the drink, so I suspect the problem is with my palate. They are easy to make and all that fruit juice might even convince you they are good for you. Here's the recipe.

Singapore Sling...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

1-1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce Cherry Heering
1/4 ounce Cointreau liqueur
1/4 ounce Benedictine
4 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/3 ounce Grenadine
1 dash bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into an ice-filled collins glass. Garnish with cherry and a slice of pineapple. Yield: one cocktail.


Tanna said...

I love your description of travelers versus tourists. ;) That drink would just be too sweet for my taste, though we have folks here who would really enjoy that combination. Glad your travels were safe. blessings ~ tanna

From the Kitchen said...

Nice hearing about your trip. Good travel time management. I think I'll pass on the drink and wait for more recipes and stories from your adventures.


Katie C. said...

I wondered where you went. I missed your posts.

So far, with the exception of Napa, I have been a tourist. I hope that will change with our huge trip planned for Italy in 1 1/4 years (can you tell I'm really counting the minutes? ). When you go on these big trips, do you do your own thing or do you stick with guided tours because of the language barrier? I feel that when it takes so long to get there, the trip must be at least three to four weeks minimum. We were thinking of doing some kind of combination. What do you think?

Nickie and Jim said...

Nice to see you. I'll pass on the "sling," but I can't wait to hear about your Indonesian trip. No jet lag? I am impressed. We are headed off to India in November, as both tourist and traveler (nice marriage?). Hugs to you and Bob.

David said...

Catherine, Tourists vs. travelers... We are something in between. We plan our own itineraries and with some exceptions, generally travel the roads less known. However we've never visited a country where English isn't spoken...definitely a tourist trait. Don't like guided tours except in short bites. Like doing our own thing. Rent a car and drive the back roads, visiting the small towns, etc. Avoid major tourist traps...again with some exceptions for the exceptional. Not counting many trips to Canada, we've been to the UK/Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. Minimum trip time on the ground was 2 weeks. Have a trip coming up to Scotland and Ireland with minimal time in the big cities of Edinburgh and Dublin. The flights are a pain...especially if one has to fly coach...but the experiences are worth it! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Shiela Ellen Pardee said...

Glad you are back, Mary. We're all looking forward to hearing more about your travels.

Alicia said...

Wow Mary, I can't even imagine a plane trip that long! But I'm glad that you had safe travels. I have to tell you that Singapore Sling was the first mixed drink I ever had and I loved it at the time. I think now it would be too sweet, but it does bring back fond memories. Welcome back!

Velva said...

I love reading about your travels. Ive never thought about it before but, you are absolutely right-there is a big difference between a "traveler" and a "tourist". You are definitely a traveler.

Singapore Slings make great Patio Pounders ( cocktails that are cold and can be sipped during the hot months). I will keep this recipe. I live in Florida and Singapore Slings on a hot summer day would be good.


Unknown said...

I've missed you! So happy to see your post this morning....looking forward to hear about your travels. I always look forward to 'Musing Wednesdays' and your recipes.

Mimsie said...

Bug juice! I haven't heard that since I summered at a Y camp on Lake Winnepesaukee.

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