Science Museum

A frustrating travel day and Singapore

Breakfast before I left was spaghetti bolognese. I was not offered anything else although the only other couple in the cafe had eggs and toast. There appeared no logic to this but the waitress/receptionist only spoke a few words of English and I didn’t think it was worth a discussion.

At check out, as I suspected, the reception staff had understood the wrong time for my shuttle. They hastily re-arranged it, and a staff member drove me to the airport. On arrival she realised she hadn’t brought her purse, so I had to pay the entry/drop off fee as well as the shuttle. She left me at the international terminal but I needed the domestic as my flight went via Ho Chi Minh. At check in, even though I had booked through Vietnam airlines, ground staff told me I did not have enough time to change terminals so they re-booked me on a flight an hour earlier. Luckily, I had allowed plenty of time.

At Ho Chi Minh, security decided I had something metal in my handbag (yes, that one that had already passed security in Danang). The officer rummaged through, couldn’t find anything and put it through the x-ray machine again. Still not happy, he tipped all the contents out. When he couldn’t find anything, he just walked off, leaving me with a mess. My mood was not improving!

On boarding the flight, there was no room in the overhead lockers for my bag, and I had to find a space further down the plane. I made a comment about the amount of carry-on bags people brought with them and at the end of the flight watched my next-door neighbour retrieve not one, but three large bags. It is one of my bugbears and I was incensed anew!

In Singapore we couldn’t land because of a thunderstorm so circled for half an hour. I had booked a shuttle to my hotel thinking it would be quicker than the metro. It wasn’t but at least I didn’t have to walk in the torrential rain.

View from 21st floor of the Pan Pacific
View from 21st floor of the Pan Pacific

I was meeting friends, Fran and Chris, and by the time I arrived at my hotel it was later than expected. They had flown in from N.Z. where they had been housesitting for me and were on their way back to England. I was in dire need of wine so we met anyway and had a late supper. Their room at the Pan Pacific had an incredible view of Singapore which we appreciated whilst sipping our fizzy. After a delicious meal in the cafe/bar below, I walked back to my room feeling much more relaxed!

We spent a very enjoyable couple of days together before they flew on. There was no rushing about. It was too hot, and they had knee and/or back problems which curtailed their walking.

A playground in the shopping centre
A playground in the shopping centre

On the first day, we strolled to the waterfront and took the circular Bum Boat ride around the quays. We sat at the back of the boat in full sun and appreciated the slight breeze. Afterwards we had lunch and returned to the hotel via a shopping centre and a quick perusal of M & S. (Where else would you shop in Singapore? And yes, I purchased a dress and knickers!)

The pool beckoned for the afternoon. It seemed the most suitable place to be in that climate. We had a swim, chatted, had a cocktail (what decadence!) and returned to their room to get ready for more wine and dinner. For this, we walked to Boat Quay where there is a myriad of restaurants all plying for trade. We selected one with difficulty and admired the view and the light show from Gardens by the Bay as we ate. The quay was packed with people.

A bygone era
A bygone era

The following day was Fran’s birthday. They had invited me to breakfast at the hotel. This was a fabulous buffet spread. It was hard to know when to stop eating! The food was excellent and kept us sustained for the rest of the day.

A visit to the National Museum of Singapore was on the agenda afterwards. We strolled past Raffles, which is being refurbished, and first went to the Polaroid exhibition in the basement. The Museum itself, depicting the history of the island, was well presented and interesting. We spent some time there, finishing with a cup of tea in the Atrium where someone singing on the floor above deafened us. The acoustics were not the best and we couldn’t hear ourselves speak so we finished our tea and left.

At the Polaroid exhibition
At the Polaroid exhibition
Bridge to Marina Sands
Bridge to Marina Sands

The birthday dinner was at the Marina Sands Complex. This is vast and confusing. Our original intention was to have a drink at the top in the SkyPark but the queue was so long we investigated the restaurants first. We chose a Chinese one and enjoyed another excellent repast. Afterwards, the SkyPark queue was still long, so we explored the complex instead. The shopping centre had a canal running through it and we were in time to take the lift to where we could view the Gardens by the Bay light show which takes place each evening. We gave up all thoughts of the SkyPark. We were all tired and keen to return to our rooms. Before I left them though, we had to eat some of the chocolate cake the hotel delivered for Fran’s birthday. I needed the walk back to my hotel to use up some calories in the enormous amount of food I had consumed that day!

I spent my final day in Singapore on my own. My flight didn’t leave til the early evening, so I had all morning to visit the Gardens by the Bay. I strolled along the waterfront and then back through the Financial and Chinese districts.

The Gardens are home to the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome, both of which are enclosed. The Flower Dome has displays of plants from all over the world. It was also full of people admiring the cherry blossom. Many ‘selfies’ were being taken although, given the number of visitors, it was impossible to take one without having other faces in it. After I left it, I was walking to the Cloud Forest when a voice said “I know you”. It was the real estate agent who had sold me my house in Tauranga a few years ago. I wouldn’t have recognised her, but I thought it was extraordinary to meet someone I knew so far from home!

The Cloud Forest was beautiful, and I enjoyed it more than the Flower Dome, probably because there was room to move. I went to the top and walked along the Tree Tops Trail from which there was a spectacular view over the city.

I had intended to do the Sky Walk but was too tired by that point. I meandered through the gardens, past the Tall Trees, which are lit at night, to the opposite end of the park where I joined the road that went through the Financial District.

It was lovely to walk in peace away from the traffic and people, although as it was Sunday, the roads weren’t busy. I stopped in China town for a very late lunch and had a delicious plate of chicken with cashew nuts and my last Vietnamese coffee. It was enough to keep me going til my dinner on the plane.

Back at the hotel, I retrieved my suitcase and walked to the metro for the easy ride to the airport. I felt hot, sticky and dirty and, as there were no free showers, paid an exorbitant fee in the on-demand lounge. It was worth every cent!

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