The plane ride. WOW – in so many ways. Singapore Airlines has this down to a fine art. We are not international travelers – and I’m sure that some of the things I’m going to mention are old hat for some of you – but for us newbies, this was miles beyond any domestic flight we’d ever been on. The service was truly impeccable. Within 5 minutes of the hatch being closed, the attendants came through the cabin with warm damp cloths for everyone. We hadn’t even left the ground yet. This was obviously a high class organization. I began to fantasize about getting TWO packs of peanuts. It was a good thing it was a long flight, because it took awhile to figure out the nifty remote that stored in the seat back right under the my personal TV. Bajillions of programs and movies. And it was free!
The next treat was a menu with CHOICES of hot meals that would be served during the 16 hour journey (10 hours to Tokyo and 6 more to Singapore). Free drinks? yes, please and thank you! …And then the meals, which were delicious! Surely this was a dream.
The negatives were obviously the length of the flight and having the middle seat. Bless his heart – my husband’s broad shoulders require space. Between him and the stranger next to me, I felt like I had all of 6 inches of space to myself. I now know the pain that the Tyrannosaurus Rex must have experienced with their tiny little arms. Eating while only using your forearms is an interesting challenge. You should try it sometime. Preferably not on a 16 hour flight. My upper arms were screaming, “free us!” by the time we got to Tokyo. And God forbid I should drop something or need to reach under the seat in front of me. My liver was squeezed in ways it shouldn’t have been squeezed.
We arrived in Singapore at 3 a.m. expecting to catch a cab to Ford’s apartment. What a wonderful surprise it was to find him actually waiting for us outside the baggage claim area! There is a sweetness like no other when you hug your boy for the first time in 11 months! By 4 a.m. we were settling in for what we thought was going to be a little rest before venturing out in Singapore. Enter: Jet Lag. Hmmm…that is one hell of a state of semi consciousness! Could. Not. Wake. Up. When Ford came home from work at FOUR THIRTY in the afternoon we were still laying in bed like a couple of teenage sofa spuds. Okay, okay – it was time to get going! We met Ford’s girlfriend Seri for dinner (more about this darling girl later!) and turned in for some MORE sleep.
Our morning began with a beautiful sunrise. The sun rises at around 7 a.m. and sets around 7 p.m. year around in Singapore. None of this 15 hours of daylight stuff we’ve got going on at the 40th parallel. This explains why I even saw the sunrise…I’m not an early riser. The view from Ford’s apartment is just amazing! He’s got two patios – one even opens up into the main living space to give it a more open feel.
The view from Ford’s apartment. Yeah – our kid is living the life!
On our way to the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit – aka subway) we stopped at Toast Box http://www.toastbox.com.sg for breakfast. They serve Nanyang Kopi (a special coffee). It was thick and sweet compared to American coffee. It gave us the jolt we needed to get a good start on the day’s activities. Although we were a little nervous about navigating the MRT, we had no problem and were soon at our first stop – Orchard Road.
Tom is debating whether to go into that Chanel store and buy me a purse. If you believe that, I have some swampland in Florida to sell you….
Orchard Road is Singapore’s premiere shopping district. Much like 5th Avenue in New York City – but WAY cleaner. Speaking of clean…the first thing Tom did was to hawk a big old lugee and spit it into a bush. A common everyday occurrence for my farmer guy. However – this is not something you want to do in Singapore – you could be fined for it. After a gentle reminder from me ( “what in the HELL are you doing?”) he decided he would curtail future spitting and save his fine money for gambling. Eventually, we came across one of those double decker city bus tour outfits and decided that this would be a good way to get to see the city.…and we were off! The Singapore Flyer, touted as the World’s Largest Observation Wheel was the first stop. I took about 300 pictures of it. Not sure why, but I’ll chalk it up to being excited and not wanting to miss a thing along with having a new camera. Anyhoo..I narrowed it down to these 4. Each one of the cars can hold up to 28 people. You can even have dinner and drinks in some of the cars! We didn’t ride it because we had a better way to view the city in our future plans for the week (more about that later). The ArtScience Museum is a stunning modern structure designed to resemble a lotus flower. Each one of the “petals” houses a different gallery and the tops of the petals are skylights – to enable natural light in the exhibits. Rainwater (it rains A LOT there) is harvested in a reflecting pool in the center of the building and recycled for use in the restrooms. Well done, Singapore!
Then we saw IT… The world’s most expensive building. It cost 5.7 BILLION dollars to build this puppy.
The Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Whoa. Purty impressive, don’t ‘ya think? I read up on the design concept, and the designer Moshe Safdie said that he had originally designed that “skypark” on the top to be placed symmetrically on top of the three towers. However, after consulting Feng Shui experts, it was decided to move it over a little so that it is asymmetrical – more in line with good Feng Shui which is important to the people of Singapore.
We decided to hop off the bus and check out the Singapore Botanic Gardens – what a refreshing break from the hustle bustle of the city! The gardens are still on the site where they were started in 1859. Their early 20th century scientists had an important hand in developing the Para Rubber plant – which was the crop responsible for a majority of trade in the Southeast Asian region at the time. There is a huge rainforest ecosystem within the gardens that boasts 314 species of plants and 165 foot tall trees that are older than the gardens themselves.
…and real life Tarzan vines! I kept waiting for him to swing down and sweep me up, but it didn’t happen. Good thing because I’d probably pee my pants. I can’t take that much excitement anymore. But I digress…
They have a gorgeous Orchid Garden as well. Many varieties and environments – and colors were breathtaking!
The Raffles Hotel was our last stop for the day.
You could just feel the history here and imagine Brits in white coats and dresses lounging in the common areas sipping on Singapore Slings – which by the way cost $17 these days. Each! I mean Ouch!
Back at home base, we rested until Ford got home from work and then headed to the Bugis area of Singapore. Bugis takes its name from the seafaring people of the South Sulawesi Province in Indonesia. They came to this part of Singapore in the early 20th century to trade goods. We ate dinner at one of Ford’s favorite Turkish Restaurants, Ala Turka.
The Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque) was beautiful against the sapphire colored sky. Interesting tidbit: the shiny facets in the base of the large dome are actually the bottoms of bottles that were donated by devotees during the reconstruction of the mosque in the 1920’s.
Our first full day of seeing Singapore had come to a close – and my head was happy to hit the pillow!