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Published: March 3rd 2009
Our faithful Bags
Always nice to see them after a flight!!
As we sit shivering in a cold Dublin Airport terminal, the plan for the next 2 months unfolds in our minds. Gina and I will be arriving in Singapore to begin our Asian experience which will be primarily revolved around a Guided 14 day “Peninsular Route” trip from Singapore, up through Malaysia and into Thailand, finishing in Bangkok. The trip is run by a company called Kumuka.
Following that, we would fly to Australia, leaving Sydney on a cruise to some Pacific islands, returning to Sydney then travelling up the east coast by Greyhound Bus. The plan, having us return to Ireland on the 20th February.
For now that seemed a long, long way away. It wasn’t long before we sat in the terminal in Heathrow airport waiting for our Singapore Airlines A380 to start loading its human cargo. We were seated on the main deck of the aircraft. It has two floors, and has cabins called “Suites” for the super rich. Alas, we were in economy, which was as it turns out much slicker than the Irish economy at the moment!!
From the moment, you put your seatbelt on the aircrew are serving you
Christmas in Singapore
Bugis Junction at christmas
drinks, ear phones, free giftbags, with stuff you’d never use inside (flight socks, and a toothbrush with toothpaste!), and a bewildering choice of drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
They also offered us hot towelettes. They will always remain a mystery to me, as I never seem to know quite what to do with them once I’ve taken them. This time I decided to say “No thanks”, which resulted in a momentary glance and pause of confusion from the attendant, as the towelette hanging from the tongs, smoked quietly in front of my face. This moment, as with all moments was the tell tale sign, that refusal of a towelette is not the norm. Someday I may appreciate its rejuvenating effects, but for now I will happily watch other people, wipe their faces, hands, and other exposed areas in confusion.
Twelve and a half hours of flying is dizzyingly long for someone who doesn’t enjoy flying, but to be fair, Singapore Airlines “Krisworld” entertainment system coupled with a bigger screen and countless films, games, and documentaries, kept me from getting up to too much mischief on the flight. As always though I end up a bit “bog-eyed” as for some
reason, passengers in the seat in front of me love to press that recline button, which sends them and the television screen pretty much into my lap. It feels to me that they are reclined so much, that I should be looking at their fillings, talking through issues from childhood, or something more sexual, but best not mention that.
So after being entertained to the point of senselessness (if that’s a word!), and enjoying, yes enjoying the meals with Singapore airlines, we arrived in Singapore’s Changi Airport, flying over a sea of ships and skyscrapers as we approached. Upon arrival we made our way first through customs. Changi airport must be the best airport in the world. It is massive, full of huge open atriums, surprising little waterfalls, interesting art, free internet, and an amazing array of shops in the departures lounge. But the best feature must be Customs. We arrived at the desk, tired, and just looking forward to getting to our hotel. Straight away we get a proper greeting. I was stunned; usually I don’t even get a nod. The customs official then began processing my documents, looked up to me, and gestured towards a little bowl
Colonial architecture at its best, it cools you down just to look at it
of sweets, encouraging me to take one. I did, a lemon one If I recall correctly!! Where else would a customs official feed you while you are waiting with your fate in their hands whether you can enter the country or not? No sooner had I chosen my sweet, I had received my passport back, stamped and we were on our way.
After collecting some Singapore dollars at the counter we looked at our travel options into the city centre. Sadly we didn’t look hard enough, and found a shuttle bus service for 15 dollars per person to take us to our hotel. We were blissfully unaware at the time, that Singapore has exceptional transportation options. The MRT/LRT (Subway train) service links Changi airport to many parts of the city for about 2.60 dollars per person, which is excellent value. You just change at Tanah Merah interchange, and then scoot on to the next train into the city. It operates as early as 5.45am, right through till late at night. Don’t pay for a taxi or shuttle bus when such a great option is available. Very few cities will offer you such an incredibly cheap method of transport to
the city. Usually service providers see airport to city connections as an opportunity to rip you off.
So off we went blissfully unaware on our shuttle bus for an incredible tour of the Hotels of Singapore. We were the last stop, and as ever on a shuttle bus or tour, your hotel is always worse than everyone elses!! This day was the same. We stayed at the Hotel Royal on Newton Road, probably in its heyday a beautiful hotel, but now looking a little dated. The rooms were plain but were clean, and we had a fridge, which is always a bonus in these hot and humid countries.
After settling in to our room we headed back out and onto the MRT, down to Orchard Road to have a quick look round the shops. But as it was getting dark at this stage, we were distracted by the wonderful Christmas atmosphere created by the dreamy Christmas lights along Orchard Road, and the throngs of people, completing their Christmas shopping. It was at this stage the 20th December! We spent an hour wandering around lapping it up, before finding some food, and collapsing back at our hotel for an
Commerce and Christmas
Who says they don't mix
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