My then-wife and I took refuge at the Raffles Hotel from a late afternoon thunderstorm during a trip to Singapore in late 2006. This beautiful colonial hotel was established in 1887 right on the seafront. Because of ongoing reclamation, it now sits some 500 meters from the shore. Because of its innovative cuisine and modernizations for the time, Raffles became Singapore’s best-known icon. The hotel was noted for accepting guests of all races, which led some to belittle it in its early days. It has often been reported that Japanese soldiers invading Singapore on 15 February 1942 encountered Raffles Hotel guests dancing one final waltz. The hotel was declared a national monument by the Singapore government in 1987 and underwent an extensive renovation shortly thereafter, restoring it to the grand style of its 1915 heyday.
During my brief stay, I visited the wonderful museum which had been created after a well-orchestrated heritage search during which people from all over the world returned items and memorabilia of their stay at the “grand lady of the Far East.” While there, I purchased a few souvenirs including the two postcards highlighted here. They came in a sealed brown envelope (pictured above) so I had no idea what was portrayed on the cards until opening it on our return home. Sadly, the museum was closed in 2012. The highlight of my visit was having a drink at the famous Long Bar, later renamed the Writer’s Bar due to frequent visits by such luminaries as Ernest Hemingway and Somerset Maugham. My drink, as well, was no ordinary drink. It was the famous Singapore Sling which had been invented at that very bar by a Hainanese bartender sometime before 1915. It even came with a souvenir glass which I was able to take home.