A welcoming, modern and diverse tropical oasis.
That is how I describe Singapore in one sentence. I had no idea what to expect as I did not take the time to learn about Singapore or its history prior to our trip. I did look it up on Google maps though, which is good because it was not anywhere near where I thought it was (I was thinking it was near China somewhere…not even close).
Let me back up. A journey begins long before you ever leave your house. As many of you know, I am terrified of traveling. Yet, I love it and will never stop. The way I coped with this trip was to let Steve do most of the planning and I just did not think about it until about four days before we left. That way, I didn’t have time to work up any anxious thoughts other than, ‘I am going to be backpacking around Asia and I am not even sure where these countries are on a map.’ So, a few days before we left I sat down and actually mapped out where we were going and helped select a few of the places we would be staying in Thailand. Then I looked up a book to read about Cambodia and ordered it on Amazon. My research was complete, yet very much incomplete.
Seattle to Singapore
8:45am Uber to Airport. The uber driver actually found our house. This seemed like a good omen for our upcoming flight.
11:30am flight Seattle to Narita. I did not know what I was in for: ten plus hours in a coach seat directly in front of loud-talkers who talked the entire flight. At first, I assumed it was the general get-to-know-your-seatmate intro that soon lapses into silence. But the lapse part never happened.
Two hours into the flight, Steve and I were past done talking to each other and he finally gave up trying to troubleshoot the issue with the media console in his seat. The flight attendants had rebooted it twice and Steve’s multiple attempts to magically make the screen respond correctly if he could get just the right amount of pressure in just the right spot on the screen were to no avail.
Four hours into the flight, I put in foam earplugs, then I donned my noise cancelling headset and watched a loud action movie (Atomic Blonde – great movie, btw). I could still hear the loud-talkers. I tried music, I tried breathing exercises to keep my frustration from growing to a level that would overwhelm my common sense. I imagined myself on several occasions turning around to them to loudly ask: ‘Can you please shut up for just one frigging hour?‘ I kept myself quiet with the idea that their never-ending conversation was the spark of a lifetime romance and it would be rude to interrupt that development.
I was getting cranky. I couldn’t even attempt to sleep. It wasn’t like they were talking about anything interesting worth eavesdropping on. After a very bumpy landing at Narita (I miss Steve’s flying) we went up to the Delta sky club to escape the loud-talkers who overheard we would be on the flight to Singapore with him. I think he wanted us to hang out and talk to him for the 2 hour layover.
Narita to Singapore
We were spared the loud-talkers, but not the coach seats for 7.5 hours. I could not get comfortable. It was time for my body to sleep but it was 5:30 pm Tokyo time, so the lights were not dimmed in the cabin for quite awhile. After dinner service, Steve did his normal fall-asleep-in-two-minutes trick. I guess you learn that after 29.5 years of flying for Delta. I was cold, I put on my down vest, my leg warmers, my socks, my scarf (Note – layered clothing is key for travel). At least Delta supplied us with blankets and pillows even in the recesses of coach. As I watched Steve sleep, I wondered if I could slowly steal his blanket without waking him. My right hip started to ache from sitting for so long and I could feel my sciatica awakening. I contemplated whether I could glacially nudge Steve over to take part of his seat so I would have more room to shift positions. I dozed off and on and would awaken periodically due to the cold and the hip pain. Then my neck started to hurt. At this point, I was completely sleep-deprived and my inner bitch was grumbling a lot.
24 hours after leaving the house, we finally arrived at the Holiday Inn Express in Clarke Quay at around 1:30am Singapore time. After a quick shower, I lay down in bed. Finally! Steve commenced to talk to me from the bathroom while he showered. As I started to drift off, I would hear “Hey are you still awake, this showerhead is so cool”. OMG, I just took a friggin’ shower, of course I saw it. My inner bitch almost became my outer bitch.
Later that morning: 6 hours of sleep, some coffee to address the caffeine headache that emerged from the disruption to the normal caffeine cycle, combined with a healthy breakfast full of protein and fresh fruit and my inner bitch retreated quietly back into the recesses of my mind. We readied our daypacks and prepared to explore.
Sightseeing in Singapore
The day was overcast and muggy. We walked from the hotel and followed Singapore River until we reached the Merlion, Singapore’s signature landmark. We continued along Marina Bay, the Waterfront Promenade, across the Helix Bridge (think DNA structure meets walkway over water), and then opted for an air-conditioned route. Meandering through the Sky Park shops we window shopped at Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and every other brand name you could think of. After a quick stop at Starbucks for another caffeine fix, we continued up to the 56th floor of the Marina Sands Building to the Sands Skypark Observation Deck to see Singapore from a different angle. It was absolutely amazing!
A quick swim at the hotel roof-top pool, a simple dinner and a stroll thought Chinatown and we ended the evening back to the hotel for a much-needed full night’s rest. The next morning we awoke early, had breakfast at the hotel with Steve’s Delta buddy Mark, who happened to be in Singapore on a layover. They caught up on their pilot talk and we parted ways as I had convinced Steve I needed a cultural tour before we left later that evening.
We walked back down to the Asian Civilization Museum and joined a not-so-quick tour to we learn about the trading history of Singapore. Singapore was a major stop in the trading routes between China, Europe, Africa and Mexico. There was a great deal of exhibit space that told the story of trade through unearthed ceramics and salvaged materials from shipwrecks in the harbor.
There was a small exhibit on ancient religions where we saw some incredible works from Iran, Pakistan and some Qurans that were every bit as elaborate as the ancient European texts that you in the history books. There were artifacts from India as well, but most of the exhibit was unfortunately closed.
Steve and I were fading and we had to pack and head to the airport, so that last bit of the museum was a bit of a blur. We made it back to the airport and headed to Phuket Thailand.
To learn more about Singapore, go here: About Singapore.