Friday, 11 July 2014

I Tested The Best Infinity Pools of South East Asia, so you don't have to

I love a fly-n-flop holiday mid winter like the next person. This year I got one with secrets and bells on. Yee ha. Sifting by the pool enjoying warm-time is divine. And like any travel writer worth their carbon footprint, I'm passing on some tips to add to your Must-do-Venue-Menu. Here goes.

I loved the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, at first, in-a-size-can-matter kind of way. But we were the wrong guests. We’d turn up with only one key-card, after travelling several floors and towers only to find we needed TWO, one each, in order to get IN to the roof top pool, the roof top bar, the roof top restaurant. Pretty much anywhere really. There were special clubs too. Members only.

Making this 963 roomed hotel so massive has required the owners to open it to joe-public-day-trippers to make ends meet. It kind of detracts from the experience. However, the 200m infinity pool spanning the very edge of - Floor 57 will blow your mind. 24/7. 
The pool attendants wore black t-shirts and pantyhose in American tan. They served pretty alcoholic beverages with haste and a smile. Lime Dacquiri anyone?

Next stop was, The InterContinental, Jambaran Bay, Denpasar. No infinity pool but no matter, the Balinese sculptures watching over the huge selection of water ways were mystical.

Then there was this pool outside Pondok Santi Resort, Gili Trewangan, Lombok. Its crumbly reef bottom required winter feet to wear jandals but its briny 29 degrees made morning dippers buoyant. We sculled like seals, lying on our backs, toes out of the water like only middle aged swimmers can. Sucks to be young. And sink.

One sunny day we boated over to Tugu Resort, Sire Beach, Lombok. Its green tiled, almost infinity pool edged in purple shrubs, beckoned like an ancient tropical lagoon. We entered and bobbed like fat languid catfish. Sublime.

We ate sushi and drank lime juice in transit with old friends, alongside this suspended pond, Jimbaran Bay, Denpasar, Bali. It was a longish lunch and a man, with two wives in white bandeau bikinis drank cocktails semi-submerged for the duration.

Finally, our last hotel night of eight. Swisshotel, Singapore. We got to bed at 2.30am. The mini bar was empty. Bereft of a single morsel. I could have sucked on a sachet of Coffee-mate but that was about it. I’d thought - nightcap you know to help us nod off.

The next day, after our morning sightseeing, I put on my bikini for the last time and went to checkout the pool.

‘I’ll get in with you or I won’t get there at all.’ A conference looking attendee with a Canadian accent had said on our way to breakfast. ‘The lifts don’t work in this hotel.’

I got there eventually. There was no infinity. No ever after. The towels were beige. The sun - radiant. I lay with my head shaded by the beige umbrella. Beads of sweat formed all over me. A tropical sauna. I spied on the pool goers. Why not.

Two middle eastern men entered the pool. They could have been brothers. Or lovers. Both wearing black y-fronts and tight white singlets. Sheer. A wet t-shirt competition began. The Twins, I called them. A pool attendant marched round from the bamboo thatched bar and spoke to them. Perhaps she wasn't fooled by their swim suits du jour either.

An oven-baked women walked over to the lounger beside me. It wasn’t a come on. She was the arm of the sundial. Worshiping. The lasagna woman, I called her. Layers of deep deep colour etched into her skin. Her face aubergine. The triangle where her Adams apple would have been b├ęchamel cream. All highlighted by her beige and chocolate brown string bikini. Obviously she would never be brown enough. She wore no glasses. And looked impatient.

Yet we were tanners side by side. Only she was headed for the tannery. Tan-anorexic. 

On my other side, a man put down his things. Early sixties. Fat unlit Cuban cigar. Book. Striped Bermuda shorts. Handsome. Craggy. Slight paunch. No yacht. But I called him, The Captain.

His perfect match, a women in a red bikini with boobs that could have been half blown balloons at a kids party. Worn with a swagger to the water's edge. Miss Scarlet, I called her, dipped her toes in and arched her neck sky scraper-wards.

The H arrived, we drank our last virgin Mojito. Fresh lime, mint soda, brown sugar.  Lime me up. He departed. He hates pools. I took a dip. All eyes on me. Their turn. Kidney shaped, turquoise tiles. Tepid water up to my knees. Finite. Boring. No- one was taking selfies. Not even the swarthy lads in their wet undies.

A small boy and his mum swam. The lad took a humungous gulp of water. Half in his lungs and half in his stomach. His coughs resonated off the wall of concrete towers. So deep was his cough you could hear his stomach turning inside out. His mother led him from the pool.

Time to go. Walking past the pool-rules-board my eyes were drawn to his puke. Phlegmy. Yuk. I away and spied our first night hotel, The Marina Sands, with the submarine on top over the bay. 

They had a complimentary towel and robe bar there, you could help yourself to lime-y iced water. Their willing attendants would have noticed that puke. Noticed it and cleaned it up. That’s what you get with double key cards…..


  1. Loved everything about that post, Jane. I lapped up every photo as I was there. You made me LOL for real - cracked up over the half-blown balloons! You have such a great way with words and you did a good job of observing the world around you and giving me a glimpse of it. Keep up the good work! :-)

  2. Thanks Yvette! I should do an observation-of-self from the POV of fellow pool-siders next time. Might be kept private mind. Jane


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