Stella Kon's blog

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In late September 2008 I was invited to Bangkok to receive the ASEAN Write Award. This award has been given annually for 30 years, sponsored mainly by Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The other recipients from the other ASEAN countries were fully supported by their own country’s national literary organisation or governmental Dewan Bahasa or Book council; whereas for Singapore I seemed to be there as a private person. Our Singapore ambassador attended the presentation, but from Singapore there was no other official recognition of the event. Prof Thumboo, head of the Singapore Award Committee, later told me the hat by keeping it out of the hands of political institutions he ensured that the award in Singapore kept its pure literary nature. However I felt that as a leading member of Asean, Singapore should show a bit more institutional recognition of the event.. there should be some middle way.

The award prize included 6 days at Oriental Hotel, for me and a guest, with all meals provided. It was a dream! I brought two guests – serially – my friend Rebecca for 3 days, and my sister Sing for 3 days. We lived in the lap of luxury, the room supplied with fruit and flowers and chocolate elephant, and that Thai service (“It is my pleasure to be allowed to kneel at your feet”) that makes me feel like Queen for a day. We had unlimited buffet meals at the beautiful terrace dining room, next to the great Menam river flowing by. When we left the hotel we did so by boat, to take us up the river or across, beating the traffic. So very romantic!
There was a schedule of historical and cultural sight-seeing, but my shopoholic companions managed to take my shopping twice. My best buy was a cute stuffed elephant.
The award ceremony itself was the most formal dinner I have ever attended. To receive the award from the Princess, we had to rehearse beforehand .. bow to princess, step forward, bow again, receive award, step back, bow …

Back to Singapore after 6 days, and luckily the Bangkok airport take over had not yet happened! Oh yes .. the award also included return flight on Thai Airways Business Class! It all added up to a tremendous experience.

I flew back to Singapore on 1 October and on the same day flew on to Sydney to spend ten days with Luke’s family in Australia. Since returning from Sydney, have been so busy with the latest MTL musical revue .. A Christmas Wish.


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