So nice to be in Singapore for pleasure rather than business for a change. I had the opportunity to work here for two months about 5 years ago and always love to visit as it is such an easy place to get around and it was fun to enjoy nightly fireworks for Chinese New Year – year of the Piggy 🐷
This time I stayed at the JW Marriott, South Beach which was nothing like a typical Marriott but a much more funky and psychedelic place than I’m used to but which I really liked – see below. Also a great gin bar, great views and fab swimming pools. Will stay again
I spent time walking around Kampung Glam and Arab Street
And hanging around looking at the modern architecture
even my bank has great local contemporary art
And visited the National Museum of Singapore – quite interesting and lovely building
Best of all I got to catch up with old friends – Mel, Anouk, and Danny, Chandrani and Vishal, Rona and John, Pippa, Sreeram and June.
Have had a great time getting to know the Miami region over the past few weeks which was even better given I had the chance to catch up with friends from the US, UK, Austria and Australia who all happened to be visiting at various points.
The Art Deco buildings – exterior and interior are looking really great. Originally they were large private homes of the wealthy and then they were used by the underworld for many decades so are all designed to have a through hall (front to back) for quick escapes when needed and many have a tiny bar (used as a front for more nefarious businesses) and often the hotel was always “full” if anyone asked – another front! Nowadays they are real small and unique hotels on the beach with loads of character. Miami Vice seems a long time ago.
No trip to this area is complete without an airboat tour to the Everglades. Gorgeous scenery as you either drift by slowly or travel at very windy speed. Further excitement added by spotting one or two of the 1.5 million alligators who live in Florida (not sure who counted them?).
Finished the day with a drenching from a typical Miami storm in Little Havana and watching some cigar rolling with my mate Liza.
Although I am staying downtown it is also nice to head to the beach occasionally and of course South Beach is the place to go. It is a bit of a shock to be lying by the beach drinking cocktails when only a few blocks away is an excellent Jewish Museum of Miami and more confrontationally the Holocaust Memorial which is very moving.
So here is the beach – as gorgeous as expected and even the advertising just floats past you on a portable movie screen so you don’t have to make much effort to read it!
It was the excellent guide at the Jewish Museum of Miami who suggested I hike over to the memorial. It is an excellent small museum in the former synagogue. Meyer Lanksy the infamous Jewish gangster lived in Miami Beach and gave generously to the local synagogue and was the only Jew who was refused the right to be buried in Israel; Many signs on restaurant and to enter clubs said “gentiles only” not that long ago; the first senator of Florida was a Sephardic Jew who arrived by way of Cuba; the famous Joe’s Stone crab shack on the Beach is 4th generation Weiss family owned and while the stone crab is expensive they still sell cheap burgers and chicken as the original owner said “I don’t care how fancy shmancy we become we always need to also provide food that the ordinary worker can afford” and they still do.
And here is the first thing you see when you approach the memorial which is close to the Botanical Gardens on 17th Street. Apparently when there was debate about where this should be put up – bearing in mind that in the 60s and 70s 75% of the Miami Beach area south of 5th was Jewish – the local church did not want this “in its shadow”. When the debate came up one Holocaust survivor said that she and her husband had been a concert pianist and both had one arm taken off in the camps so they could never play piano again – she argued for this memorial so “she could get her arm back”. Gives you goosebumps. So does the fact that the address of this memorial is 1933-1945 Meridian Street – pretty much covers the years from Kristellnacht to the end of the war. It was “beshert ” – a Yiddish word meaning “meant to be”.
Aside from the sheer scale of this memorial it is shocking yet peaceful at the same time. Worth a walk around for some quiet contemplation about the sheer scale of what happened back then – less than one hundred years ago. When you walk into the square naturally illuminated entrance you see all the names of the camps as you hear childrens’ voices quietly singing – very moving.