Edit Blog Post
Published: November 25th 2019
Going home in style
We went out the same way we came in
After a solid night's sleep, I woke up fairly rested. I headed to the gym while John slept a little more. The gym was located on a very high floor in a corner, with floor to ceiling windows. Incredible views! It was well-equipped - like a regular gym. A ton of cardio machines, some weight machines, and free weights. The bathrooms attached to the gym had nice showers, a wet sauna, dry sauna, and a beautiful hot tub (no jets but looked awesome). John said the hot tub in the men's room has a window that looks out over the city. The one in the women's room had frosted glass. But still so relaxing! If we were there for 1 more day, I would have made full use of it. As it was, we were tight on time, and hot and sweaty so much, I couldn't think of using the sauna or hot tub at that moment!
There were many champagne brunches we could have found for Sun brunch, but instead we decided to do something a little lighter for brunch, in hot anticipation of Din Tai Fung for lunch. Out of the many amazing restaurants in the hotel, there
In the bathroom!
In the bathroom inside the gym at the hotel. Our own spa! If I was there longer I would have definitely been soaking in this tub.
was only 1 that we found that had an ala carte breakfast - they love breakfast buffets! We ate at a restaurant/bar area in the lobby. It was awesome! Incredible food and great Irish coffees.
We had decided that our site-seeing for the day would be restricted to the area around the hotel. Enough traipsing around Singapore. We started with the big ferris wheel, that we could see from our hotel. The walk over was nice, over the "helix" bridge - aptly named because it is shaped like a helix. It was only 10am and already hot and humid. The equator really lives up to its name! After a 20min sweaty walk outside, we were at the ferris wheel. We bought tickets and stood in the very very short line. I'm not sure when peak season is, but we must not have been in it. There were only a handful of people there for the ferris wheel. The cabins were enclosed glass, and could hold like 20 people. We were thinking how lucky we were when we got one with only 7 people total. Until a few min into the ride, and the 2 Chinese kids started running around
Nice bar breakfast in the hotel! That granola bowl thing was amazing, but was very much like cereal and milk - if you didn't eat it fast enough, the whole thing turned to mush
and screaming. Discipline from their mom was non-existent. On a good day, the ferris wheel is a 1 hour beautiful view of the city (not as high as our hotel though). The air conditioning was a nice respite. But man, those kids. I'm not sure if it was a cultural thing to not discipline your kids, or if she just never learned how, but those kids almost got some discipline from the rest of us on that ride. The ferris wheel was a pretty touristy thing to do, and reminded me a lot of the ferris wheel in Seattle. I'd say, not a bad thing to do if you have some extra time in the area.
After that painful 1 hour screaming ride, we were ready to let off some steam. We had seen some people riding around on scooters, and right in the place where we got off the ferris wheel was a rental place. What luck! We rented 2 scooters for an hour to ride around the little marina. The famous Merlion statue was at the other end. I would definitely skip that if you're ever visiting Singapore - not sure why so many people spend time
Inside our hotel. Really cool how they built it. I don't think there's a bad room in the whole place
going to this, unless they know something I don't. It's a statue of a fish with a lion head spouting water. The temperature was so hot and humid, but the wind on our skin while we were riding felt amazing! At that point, it was noon. And I had forgotten sunscreen. I know - great dermatologist. We tried to keep mostly to the shade. So much fun riding around on the scooters though! Neither of us could have even imagined walking around in the heat at that point.
After our hour was up, we headed to the Shoppes for lunch. Din Tai Fung is one of John's favorite restaurants in Seattle. I never went to the one back home, but I was ready to try these amazing dumplings. It's a small chain, with a few restaurants in the states - 2 near me in WA! Now that John moved to Philly, he lives on the memories. His favorite dish there (and now mine) is the xiao long bao. Life changing. It's a dumpling with soup inside! Posting a link to this youtube review, so you can see what it's like. (Also, John apparently we need to go to Taiwan
Views from the town
A series of photos of our hotel we took from our adventures. It's so big you can see it from everywhere down in that area!
for the Din Tai Fung there!) https://youtu.be/1feeH-RRS7k
We were comfortably full after lunch. John was ready to head to the infinity pool for the rest of our short trip. While that sounded amazing and was very tempting, I wanted to see the Gardens, and knew that if I headed back to the hotel now, I'd never make it back out. So we parted ways and I made the sweaty voyage out into the day again to head toward the Gardens.
The Gardens by the Bay are one of the most famous attractions in Singapore. And how fortunate that it was right next to our hotel! We could actually see it well from the rooftop. Beautifully landscaped and maintained, the Gardens have many different areas. There was a Heritage area, which has some exhibits to showcase the trade and history of Singapore. It was about the only cultural thing I picked up there. I learned they were well-know for rubber, pepper, nutmeg and mace (which come from the same plant! I didn't know), cloves, and cinnamon. The walk took me through the grove of "super trees", which are large beautiful structures that are plainly visible from the rooftop of
Views from the town
On the right is the science center, which we never made it to, but it looked cool. Next time! On the left is the helix bridge.
our hotel. They harbor many plant species, and have photovoltaic cells on top! (apparently they are not called solar panels, but the true name is photovoltaic cells). The energy they generate powers the light show they have each night. Coordinated with music, the nightly show is said to be captivating. Spoiler alert - we didn't make it.
The Gardens is a very large area. Within it are 2 domes, which are paid attractions. There are 2 other attractions I skipped - Floral Fantasy, and the elevated walk through the super trees. No regrets there. The 2 that I did visit were the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. The Flower Dome had so much potential, being the garden nerd that I am. Plus, I had heard amazing things about the botanical garden in Singapore, that we didn't make it to. The Flower Dome, however, was filled with slow-moving tourists, no doubt chilled to complacency by the air conditioning, taking far too many selfies with extra long selfie sticks. I spent that brisk walk through the dome dodging straggling tourists, some in gaggles, to keep moving along the track . It was particularly fun to see 2 tourists marveling over
Views from the town
From the ferris wheel. Even at the top the hotel is still taller!
the blackberries growing in the "California" section. If only they knew the war that is waged against the invasive blackberries in so many states in the US! The Flower Dome was divided into many parts of the world, allowing you to glimpse the species from everywhere at once. And the weather inside was a perfect cool spring day. Very comfortable. Apparently it's the largest columnless glasshouse in the world (per wikipedia). There was a special event at the banquet room inside, which I later learned was an Indian wedding. Nice place for a wedding!
I left the cool enclosure to venture out to the other dome: the Cloud Forest. I was hesitant about this one because it sounded like a rain forest, which does not sound appealing on a blazingly hot and humid day. But it turns out it's equally as cool and comfortable as the Flower Dome. It was a very long and meandering one-way walk through different floors and sections. Almost all were different plants - like an ecosystem with different areas highlighting different parts of the system. Including a waterfall. I was over it by that point though. I had texted John a little earlier telling
Views from the town
It was noon and so insanely hot/humid/sunny and these kids were all out running playing rugby. Nuts!
him I was heading in, and he was heading down from the hotel. My phone was almost dead, so it was a race with time in there. About halfway through, I told him to save his S$28 - it was like an air conditioned botanical garden. A nice walk and thing to do, but not worth the extra time unless you really are into botanical gardens, which I was getting that John wasn't. And by that point, I was too cranky for the crowds.
I walked out through the outdoor air-conditioned gift shop (why they don't have revolving doors in this country when everything ends in a highly air conditioned gift shop baffles me). Seriously - like 60 degrees air conditioned, with the doors wide open to the 95 degree humid outdoors. John had found a nice fan to stand in front of while I finished making the slow passage through the Cloud Forest. Then we started the walk back to the hotel. It was a nice walk back through the park. We left before the light show started, but by that point I was ready for the infinity pool!
Back in the oasis of our hotel, I
Views from the town
Another view of the science center on left, from across the water (our hotel view). In the top middle left is our room!
was about ready to collapse on the amazing bed, but I rallied and we headed up to the pool. It was only about 5pm by that point. We had eaten a late lunch, so neither of us were that hungry yet. We went up to the pool and enjoyed the last little bit of daylight looking out over the city - where we had just spent a sweaty but fun day. When it got too cold for me, we popped to the other side of the roof to one of the infinity hot tubs, to overlook the gardens and the now-lighted super trees. After a couple of hours, I was ready to pass out. And did! John, with his endless energy, got a fun drink in a pineapple (I'm jealous). After a short nap in the chair by the pool, I decided to throw in the towel for good, and made my way back down to the room. John pushed on and went to dinner - and said it was amazing. We were supposed to have dinner at Gordon Ramsey's steak restaurant, but not only was I not hungry, I couldn't imagine mustering the energy to walk back to the
Views from the town
From the other side - standing in the Gardens by the Bay
Shoppes to go to the restaurant. I don't know where John got his energy, but it certainly makes him a great travel buddy.
And that was our last night in Singapore! The next morning was a wake-up and train ride back to the airport. We were marveling that at 7am on a Monday, the train was almost empty. Where were all the commuters?? And all the announcements were in English, and only English. A little odd, but maybe the train is more for tourists? Then as we got farther into the city, the commuters started getting on. Still not as busy as one would expect for such a populated city. It was a very comfortable and easy ride to the airport, despite some fast walking in between trains because we weren't sure if we had left enough time (spoiler alert: we did).
When we had arrived in the airport 2 short days ago, we thought it was a great idea to get the unlimited pass for 2 days. And boy did it pay off! S$26 and we would get S$10 back when we turned the card back in (around $20 and $7, respectively). The DC metro should do
Views from the town
The far end of the harbor that we overlook
something like that with their plastic cards. I love the idea of a refundable deposit. There were 2 problems with this for us. 1- the refund at the airport as we were leaving was in Singapore dollars, not back onto the credit card we paid with, so now we had S$20 to deal with. And 2- we didn't count right. Our last trip was about 2 and a half days after we bought our cards, which we didn't realize until we got a big red X when we tried to swipe our cards to get on the train that morning. One way tickets are about S$2.50, and I fortunately had a little cash left for the machine that only took cash (this was before we got the card refund unfortunately). All in all, I have to say that the train system is definitely the way to get around Singapore. Highly recommend. Clean, easy, color coded, and all in English. Also some of the best air conditioning in the city. So much so that at one point when we were dripping after a particularly hot and humid walk, we were thinking about just riding the train for a little while to
A cute little bridge we came up to - with an old sign warning not to drive over it because of weight, but a horse and cart is ok haha. It's not that kind of city anymore...
We made it to the airport with time to spare. John is a super fast walker, so that helps. I was only a little sweaty before we started our long airplane journey. Security in the Changi Airport in Singapore was really weird. We checked in at the counter and went through “security” but it wasn't anything like dumping liquids or a thorough search. So we knew there had to be real security at some point (or hoped?) But it was reminiscent of what flying before 9/11 must have been like. I was having mixed feelings about getting onto a plane where people weren’t really screened, despite how nice it was to keep drinking my water bottle from the hotel (which had really good water). But instead of doing one big screening before you go into the terminal where all the gates are, they do the thorough screening at each gate. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse, but I guess it would be more secure. Just don’t plan to buy any water bottles inside security and bring them on the plane. Not a problem for us in business class, but if we were in economy I would
So much fun - and there's our hotel in the background again!
have been pretty annoyed at that. I can’t bring any water on the plane for a 6+ hour flight?
I had some leftover Singapore dollars burning a hole in my pocket and decided I would rather spend it than do the responsible thing, like John was doing, and exchange my money when I got back. So a tiny shopping spree with S$20. Right by the lounge was a Twining tea store, with macarons! An easy way to blow some petty cash and not come home with more stuff. I almost had enough for one of everything. Most of them were tea-based flavors, which was a really cool concept. If you ever see macarons for sale from somewhere that sells tea, get some. It was a really nice twist on an already yummy cookie!
The business class lounge in the Singapore airport reminded me of a basic Delta lounge. It was very similar to the lounge in the LAX airport. A mix of Western food for breakfast (cereal, eggs, bacon), and some Eastern things (some horribly fishy paste in a banana leaf, stir fry – which was actually really good even though it was breakfast – and Laksa). No
Seriously, why is this so famous???
chicken and rice though (which might be very popular, but I will not miss all those bones). Laksa is a popular dish in Singapore, and is one of the only traditional cultural things we tried. Well, I tried. John was done with questionable foods. I have to say, though, that he made the right choice when it came to that fish paste in banana leaves stuff.
Laksa is a noodle soup dish. The base is some kind of coconut milk and curry, with some big udon like noodles, and some add-ins. I added some dried pork or fish cakes (not sure what they were), and an egg, because of course (Singapore had boiled eggs everywhere, usually stained with some kind of brown liquid), and the whole thing actually tasted really good. Anything with coconut milk you can’t go wrong, and this was just delicious! Wish I had tried that sooner, but glad I had it before we technically left Singapore. We had just enough time to jump into their legit massage chairs before heading out. These things kind of locked you down and went to town. The strength of the massage on the back was somewhere between Swedish and
Obligatory tourist photo
deep tissue. I haven’t had that deep of a chair massage since the USO in Pensacola (seriously, those things will make you sore the next day).
We had to cut our massage short to make our way to our gate for the real security check. I downed my water and we were through. We made our way to our seats, which were very similar to the seats on the way over. Same plane for the 6hr flight as we had 2 days prior. Just different seats. But this time we were right next to each other. We had our little lie flat pods again. This flight was around 10am, so we weren’t feeling like we needed to sleep for the whole flight this time. And the whole travel process repeated in reverse.
We were delayed in Singapore for over an hour, but since we were in our little pods and would have a 6 hour layover, it didn’t matter. Multiple meals, wine, movies with Chinese subtitles, and some downtime. We arrived in Shanghai not too worse for wear. This time, it felt like old hat. The S terminal in Shanghai airport is fairly small. We had walked the
Interesting architecture - I wish I had a 5min crash course on architecture, then took pictures of some of the more interesting buildings we saw. This is almost the only photo I have.
whole thing on our last layover. We knew this jail cell now haha. We wandered into the various shops, killing time. I bought some Chinese candy to bring home (which turned out to be insanely stale. Don’t EVER buy candy from the Shanghai airport is what I learned), and John got some various goodies. The dollar must be fairly strong against the Chinese Yuan, because the prices were more like what you would pay in a regular store, rather than the exorbitant prices you would expect in a boutique airport shop. We probably would have kept shopping around more, but the halogen spot lights they had in all of those stores were so insanely hot that we tapped out. That can’t be good for business. Or the electric bill. Why they are not using LEDs (which I’m sure are made in China) I have no idea.
We explored a different lounge this time using our Priority Pass membership. Some different treats, and a make-your-own Pho station (sort of – Pho being Vietnamese, I think this was the Chinese version). The business lounge was bigger and more comfortable, though, so we headed back there. I will say that in Singapore,
I just liked this one... Singapore is SO green!
English is perfectly fine to get around. In Shanghai airport, not at all. I’m seeing some foreshadowing here if I take a trip to China. Learning some Chinese phrases is key. My Chinese to this date is inclusive of “Hi, how are you?”. “Thank you”. And a few curse words courtesy of my college roommate haha Isn’t that what every college student wants to know? How to curse in as many languages as possible? I’ve got 4 so far, unless you count “penis” or “ugly”, which makes Greek number 5 (those were not learned in the same sentence). How do we not have a universal translator yet? And the phone tech is not there yet, as evidenced by a 5-minute long painful clown show of using a voice to text translator app while trying to ask the lounge workers how long the food would be out. It’s out all night. I think. Or they were telling me I could stay all night. I’m still not really sure.
The last and final flight took off around 9pm, and landed back in LA around 5pm the same day, Monday. But this was basically overnight to our newly-adjusted, very confused internal clocks.
The supertrees are pretty identifiable - almost as much as our hotel.
I was very much ok with sleeping on this 12 hour flight, getting to the hotel, and sleeping for another 12 hours. And that’s pretty close to what we did. It was a very relaxing flight back in my pajamas, down comforter, flat bed, eye mask, and ear plugs (though the plane was loud enough you didn’t really need the ear plugs). I was legitimately well-rested! When does that ever happen on a plane?
Back in LAX, customs was crazy easy, thanks to the Global Entry card. I didn’t realize how easy that would be! We sped through and were done in about 20 minutes, if that. It took longer to wait for the hotel shuttle than to walk off the plane and clear customs. Being at the front of the plane helped, I’m sure.
The Marriott at LAX is a very nice hotel. We had decided to stay there because 1- it was at the airport, and what is easier than that; and 2- John has a ton of points and is like titanium elite for life or something, so we had a free stay (for points) and lounge access. While alcohol isn’t free up there, I
did smuggle some wine back from the Shanghai lounge (didn’t want to waste it! And I’m pretty sure that’s legal…) so I enjoyed a nice drink while we had some appetizers in the lounge. The food on the flights were hit or miss, so we were ready for a good solid meal. We settled on the steak restaurant in the hotel lobby. Which was actually amazing! Everything they brought out was divine. We slightly over-ordered, but we were finishing our adventure like a King and Queen. One last hurrah.
Pleasantly full, and slightly tipsy, we headed back up to get ready for early flights in the morning. We parted ways that morning – me sleeping in a little, and John getting a Porsche escort to his plane because “it was really far from security”. WHAT? Haha that’s what Delta Diamond status gets you I guess. But hey, after this trip, I’ll let you know! I should make it by December 23, in the nick of time, and can use it for my adventures for all of 2020.
Things I learned. 1- 2 days in Singapore is enough, though 3 or 4 would have left time to relax in
the infinity pool for a whole day. 2- If going to Singapore, the only place to stay is the Marina Bay Sands. Hands down. 3- skip all the touristy things we did. Well, maybe do some of them once. Skip the cable cars though. 4- The only way to make that flight is business class, and it’s worth every penny. 5- Don’t buy candy from Shanghai airport. 6- Vegetarian meals on Chinese Eastern are hit or miss, maybe try Halal next time. 7- The train system in Singapore is possibly the nicest I’ve ever been on (maybe second to Japan, but that one is super hard to navigate unless you can read Kanji). 8- It is hot as a mother there. 9- John is an awesome travel partner. 10- I can’t wait for our next adventure in search of Diamond status 2021! (whispered rumors of the Galapagos are in the air)
Tot: 1.659s; Tpl: 0.075s; cc: 23; qc: 59; dbt: 0.0362s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb