Our last stop before Bangkok was Singapore where we were lucky enough to spend three nights at the lovely Jamie and Emilia’s apartment – the perfect base for exploring one of our favourite city’s of the trip.
Leaving Bali we experienced the typical chaos of flying from any airport in SE Asia. We had to pay a fairly hefty exit tax in cash which we weren’t told about until we had checked everything in. We then found out there are no ATMs in the airport, and once you have checked in you are not allowed to leave the terminal to get to an ATM. And no, you can’t pay on card. Round of applause for whoever designed this fabulous airport! Anyway, we snuck out and got some cash, the first two ATMs were out of service but we finally found one that was working, and eventually we were on our way.
Singapore is such a stark contrast to everywhere else in SE Asia. From the moment you land in the award winning Changi Airport (voted best airport in the world) you know you are in a place of slick design, where things just WORK and where people form orderly queues. As much as I love chaotic city’s for the sights, smells and experiences, there is something comforting about being somewhere like Singapore. Perhaps for British people we just feel instantly at home. All the comforts of England but with better weather! We picked up our bags and jumped in a taxi to Aspen Heights, our home for the next three nights. We were let into Jamie and Emilia’s apartment and started to settle in. Straight away we had life envy, we want to live here! The apartment is lovely and has a great pool, gym and supermarket on site. It is also in an incredible location, a 5-10 minute walk one way to Clarke Quay and all the riverside bars and restaurants you could ever need – 5-10 minutes in the other direction takes you to Orchard Road with all the malls and shops.
We had a slightly hairy moment on the first day while we were hanging out washing in the outdoor laundry area of the apartment (bear with me here!). The door closed behind Jack and as he went to let himself back in to the kitchen we realised it had locked behind him. We were the only people in the apartment. We had no access to a phone. We were also probably not supposed to be staying there without J&E and didn’t want to alert security to our presence. This was the first time I had EVER seen Jack look panicked, he just doesn’t do panic. He dashed from the door to the balcony several times like a dog chasing his own tail as I felt vaguely amused – I seem to have out of body experiences in times of fear – better than facing reality! We ran through the different scenarios – we climb to next door’s balcony, but still we couldn’t get in to the apartment with no key, we sleep on the hot balcony and slowly dehydrate, we smash a window…. Argh. Jack played around with the window to the right of the door and realised he could open the slats enough to put his hand through and just about reach the door handle, eventually with a bit of teamwork we managed to open the door from the inside – PHEW. After this we had a strict rule of only one person out there at a time! And J&E don’t worry, we locked the window so nobody else can reach through and let themselves in!
We had a brilliant time exploring Singapore. We spent a few evenings in the Clarke Quay area eating great food and drinking beers and cocktails.
Enjoying a beer at Clarke Quay:
We also had some sunset drinks in Ku De Ta on top of the Marina Bay Sands Resort. Marina Bay Sands is an amazing building, three huge towers over 60 floors high with a long ship shaped building that rests across the top of all three towers. It sounds tacky but it works! Jack was a little embarrassed when we arrived as I had convinced him to wear a really brightly coloured shirt that I love, but unfortunately he stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the sea of sedate white shirts!
Spot the lairy Lemon:
During the day we had a look around Chinatown, a really vibrant bustling area that feels quite removed from the posh riverside areas. I love all the colourful shop fronted buildings and hanging lanterns:
We also ate at a traditional Hawker Centre called Maxwells. This place had around 50 different eateries to choose from and it took us around ages to make a decision, everything looked yummy. Eventually I went for grilled chicken with spicy tomato sambal and rice and Jack had some noodles, both were delicious and our combined bill came to around $10 – our $120 sushi dinner the evening before suddenly seemed ridiculous!
We were a little hungover on our last day. We spent some time on Orchard Road having a look around the malls before heading to Gardens by the Bay for the 1 year birthday party. This was a free party/festival with lots of music, entertainment and food and drink – it was billed as the biggest picnic of the year. It was a beautiful day and seemed like the perfect end to our time in Singapore. We popped to a lovely wine and cheese shop near the apartment and picked up a selection of cheeses with serano ham and some summery rose wine before jumping in a taxi to the park. We set up in a nice area on the hillside with a good view of the stage.
Catching the last rays of sunshine in Singapore:
Just like everything else Singapore does, when they throw a party, they do it well. As the music played we were treated to numerous skydivers jumping out of a plane next to the Marina Bay Sands each letting of coloured smoke as they descended. The Singaporean version of the Red Arrows also made an appearance, with planes flying so fast you saw them overhead before you heard them.
Skydivers by Marina Bay Sands:
We stayed until it started to get dark and then headed back to the riverside in search of more wine and 30 minutes of the rugby for Jack. We finished the evening off with a few drinks by the river before heading back to the apartment.
Singapore was an amazing experience to the very last second of our visit. The airport is efficient and beautiful and everything works like a dream. We checked in quickly, spent some watching a film in the free cinema, browsed the internet using the free wifi and made our way to the gate for our take off – on time, of course.
The next, and final, stop of our trip is bustling Bangkok. We’re finishing just as we started, with a night in the crazy backpacker area of Khao San Road. I’m looking forward to some street food and street cocktails, haggling for some bargains and saying goodbye to the best 6 months of my life. Ever.