Asia light

Trip Start Dec 04, 2006
Trip End Aug 05, 2007

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Sunday, April 1, 2007

Nathan here: So having only partially recovered from sun exposure, and me now suffering from a full-blown cold, we left Phuket on April 1st (for good, sigh). This was always going to be a rather tight travel day. Let me explain. As most travellers know, one should arrive to the airport at least 2hrs before taking an international flight.

Our flight from Phuket to Bangkok, assuming it left on time and landed on time, would have given us approximately 1.5hrs before our flight from Bangkok to Singapore. It was either this option or waiting for a much later flight. We figured we'd have enough time... So where am I going with this?

Our flight departed Phuket on time, check. It arrived in Bangkok on time, check. But... wait for it, we landed and Tara said, this is funny, we must've landed in a different section of the airport, and then she realized...we landed at the wrong airport! Who knew that Bangkok had two airports? We've flown in and out of the city about a dozen times and each and every time we've arrived at the international airport. So with 1.5hrs to go before our flight to Singapore, and having arrived at the wrong airport, our collective first words were "oh shit!". We thought we had no hope as the airline agent indicated it was a one hour drive to the other airport. By the time we got our bags we had one hour to get to the other airport and check in - as we know, from our experience four days ago - you MUST check in at the latest 30 minutes before the flight takes off.

So "Amazing Race" it was (again). Tara found a taxi while Cil and I grabbed the bags. We burned across town with our flight due to take off in 1 hour and 15 minutes. It was like "take two" when we pulled up at the right airport (see previous blog entry) as we had done this four days before when we encountered the traffic jam. So, Tara jumped out while the cab was still moving (again), while I threw money at the driver (including a tip to put towards the tires which he had squealed around every corner). Tara went to the desk to read "Checkin closed" (again) and pleaded and smiled (again) and Air Asia reluctantly said "OK" (again). This time we didn't even have to carry our bags to the gate. The whole thing was one big, not so great deja-vu.

Tara here: Nonetheless, we arrived in Singapore without further incident - and our bags even made it with us. Found our accomodations and headed out to explore this tiny nation of only four and a half million people. A little bit of background. Singapore is its own country just South of Malaysia and was initially founded as a British trading colony in 1819. It joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963 but separated two years later. Since then, it has become one of the world's most prosperous countries - and it shows. The place is immaculate, landscaped, manicured, clean, etc, etc.

We fist checked out Vivo City which is a new shopping complex unlike anything we have in Canada. Brand name store after brand name store, one after the other. We then took the MRT (super easy, cheap, clean and quick) to Chinatown which, like the rest of Singapore, is unbelievably clean. Cleanest we've seen ever and beautifully lit up at night. Ended the evening with a visit to the city's Night Safari ( A highlight there was seeing one of the lions up and walking and, as we were leaving, roaring quite forcefully. It gave us the chills.

The next day, we started early and went to the Raffles Hotel. This hotel's claim to fame is that the Singapore Sling drink was invented there. It is renowned for its service and has also seen many famous guests over the years like Michael Jackson, etc. We were informed very politely when we approached that the hotel had a dress code which we did not meet (i.e. shoes and pants, we all had shorts and sandals on). Luckily Cil had her walking shoes on that day so she got to go in and have her picture taken. The door man - dressed to the nines like an Indian Maharajah was very friendly and opened the doors wide so we could all gawk at the obvious splendour. For those interested, room rates apparently start at approximately $900 Canadian a night.

We also met up with Jodie, a friend from England we met while we were in the Cameron Highlands. Following the hotel visit we made our way to Orchard Road - shopping location extraordinaire. The road is lined with malls.

Following this we visited Sentosa island. Sentosa is a small island a few hundred metres South of Singapore which is a resort/theme park mini disney-land type area. It is squeaky clean and they play cheesy music and move you around on free shuttle buses from perfectly groomed attraction to attraction. The highlight for us was the glass-bottom cable car ride to and from the island which afforded us great views of the Singapore skyline. We finished up the day checking out The Esplanade Theatres on the Bay (Singapore's NAC), and Little India - which was clean and lined with shops selling so much gold it would make your eyes pop. After this we said goodbye to Jodie and hopped on the light rail back to our hotel.

Nathan here. A word about Singapore - or as we call it - Asia extra light. In other words, you're in Asia but you almost wouldn't know it. I don't want to take anything away from Bangkok or KL, but this city has virtually no chaos, certainly not the chaos you'd find in Vietnam or China. And everything is so clean and kept. We also couldn't believe how prevalent English was. Everyone, even more so than in Malaysia, speaks English - or as they call it Singlish. Additionally, cab drivers couldn't be friendlier and it is so easy to interact with them because they speak English so well. We took four different cabs and each driver welcomed us to Singapore and gave us some history/information about the country. Singapore is also very safe. But, consequently, Singaporeans think the rest of Asia is dangerous. We were warned by more than one taxi driver to be careful when we went back to Malaysia because there was more crime there,etc. Good thing we didn't tell them we'd been to Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries.

We ended the day saying goodbye to Cecilia at the airport. Boy was that tough and I have to say there were a few tears exchanged. We had had such a great time with her and were really sad to see her go away. Cil, we miss you already.

Now we are getting ready to head off to Borneo - stay tuned for more entries. N&T
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