A Weekend in Singapore

I found myself spending a weekend in Singapore with a few Masonic Brethren two of whom were accompanied by their spouse. Su actually booked my passage and hotel accommodation, but decided last minute not to join me because the programme wasn’t sufficiently attractive and the stay was too short for her purpose.

Indeed, my activities were planned mainly around Coleman Street where Singapore’s Freemasons’ Hall is located and from where we were bused to Tanglin Club at Stevens Road after the main meeting. But we had an interesting break. One of our senior Brethren is a very good friend of a Mr. Ho, an international entrepreneur who happened to be his classmate from childhood in Hong Kong. Amongst other things, Mr. Ho owns the Grande Whisky Museum in Singapore, which has taken up approximately 8,000 sq. ft. in Suntec City and he offered us a guided tour which turned out to be the main attraction, for me at least. Mr. Ho had detailed a Manager and his staff to guide us through the Museum which had billed itself as Asia’s first Rare Whisky Museum with the largest collection of rare and vintage whiskies on display for public appreciation featuring an exclusive collection of over 7,000 rare and vintage whisky bottles.

We were met at the entrance by the Manager who stressed rarity and diversity as the Museum’s strengths and for which it has been approved by Guinness as the consortium or institution with the World’s largest and most valuable collection of whiskies. Guinness has planned to come to Singapore to confer the honour and accolade officially later in the year, after which the Museum would have its official opening. The entrance was marked by a display of Saint-Louis crystal wares including chandeliers and huge vases. In passing, the Manager revealed that the Museum had been insured for a quarter of a billion British Pounds and was fitted with reinforced walls to the standards of the Singapore Government and Guinness.  We ended the tour – which was rather educational and eye-opening in certain areas – with a wine tasting session. We were given four samples, which were all very good and special; and we learned that Royal Salute had stopped producing ceramic bottles in 2022, implying that those whiskies in ceramic bottles would likely be in demand and become more expensive in future.

I also took the opportunity to update myself on the City State which I had probably not visited for ten years and possibly more. It is still clean and tidy everywhere, but rather crowded in certain areas. The City is planning to host a Formula One event in September and is putting up make-shift spectator stands and additional lighting for the race tracks. We were told that the organizers would visit the Whisky Museum and use its facilities to entertain sponsors and some of the rich and famous. I had dinner in an Italian eatery at Boat Quay. The food was OK, but the shops were not well patronized, even by 9pm. Some shops were rather empty and the staff were busy touting for businesses and customers. It looks like the economy had yet to pick up. When I was last here, the place was everywhere dense. We also visited some food courts and shopping malls. Again, every shop was looking for more patronage.

While I was away, Su picked up two enhancements for the vinyl player and the receiver. Playing with the remotes, she accidentally hit some buttons which resulted in the display of “Pure Direct” in the Phono mode, implying that the signals from the player, through the stylus, would not be digitized before they were transmitted to the receiver and turned to audio mode. But more directly and physically, she found a long lost trove of implements and spare parts which she had carelessly stuffed away while she install the record player some 18 months ago, including a vital implement called counterweight which function was to balance the tone arm and provide adjustment for proper downward tracking force on the stylus. She thought she had lost it and had tried to ask the audio shop for a replacement, but to no avail. In order to make the tone arm work, and true to her reputation as Queen of Make-Shift, she created her own counterweight by putting in a plastic holder – which in itself was possibly the top of some water bottle – four one-British-Pound coins, one HK$10 coin and one HK$1 coin wrapped together in some plastic sheet and kept in place by Blu-Tack. I had re-discovered such details after she had had it replaced with the real and original counterweight after lunch today. We spent the afternoon trying the new implement on a few vinyls; and noticed distinct improvements in sound steadiness and tone quality. What genius! Any double E engineer would salute her for such ingenuity. Su remarked afterwards that maybe I should stay away from home for a few days more often so that she would discover more stuff on her own, suggesting that I have been blocking her mental agility development.

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