Saturday, January 6, 2007

Singapore Trip March 2005

LAX 3/22/05 8:28AM

Time for another trip. Probably the last one for a long time. I am off to Singapore for this trip. I still have 2 hours until boarding begins. I am flying United. I didn’t exactly have to pay for the trip. Last year United and American Airlines had a bizarre promotion, I’m guessing to do whatever they could to generate revenue. It involved flying 2 coast to coast (ex. Los Angeles to Boston or NY) roundtrip flights within a certain period of time. I did this and by doing so earned a free roundtrip flight to anywhere in the world that United flies. I chose Singapore. And here I am, about to go there. And now I think I will read the paper for a while.

11:05AM (4:05AM Tokyo - tomorrow)

On the plane now. This plane goes on to Tokyo and then on to Hong Kong. I’ll be switching planes in Tokyo and then make my way on to Singapore. Part of me wishes I was just going on to Hong Kong. I really enjoyed it there last year. There is much more to do and more importantly I had such a good feeling there. It was very easy to be there and to spend time there. I felt completely comfortable walking and going wherever I wanted.

This isn’t a criticism just a statement of fact. American air carriers have the oldest flight attendants in the sky. They could all be grandparents. I don’t think it is healthy for any job to not bring in new blood. People can just get too complacent without some internal competition.

Back to the trip. I could have easily gone back to Hong Kong, but I think forcing myself to go somewhere new again is healthy for me. I have a habit of doing the same thing again and again. If it is comfortable I will just keep doing it. I do this in restaurants all of the time. Once I find something I like I will just keep ordering is again and again.

A week alone in Singapore should be interesting. Not just for the travel part of it, but to see how well I do in forcing myself to get out and do things. I have no insider tips on what to do. Having insider knowledge of Hong Kong made it that much easier to make the jump for that trip. This trip to Singapore has much more unknown quantities to it. Once I arrive in Changi airport I will have to look around for a tourist center and for a place to get a subway pass. For my first full day in Singapore it would be nice to just get on the subway and to venture out to the different neighborhoods and see what the whole island is like. Or maybe on the first day I will get out to the main tourist areas and see what they are like. I might be a zombie on the first day and shouldn’t try to do too much. Possibly the second day will be good to take all the subway lines to see the different parts of the island. I also might go to the spa on the first or second day. I still need to look more at the city tours. I will probably do at least one of them. And a web site mentioned cooking classes available. A chinese cooking class should be fun.

11:41AM Takeoff ..... weeeee!

1:18PM (Tokyo Time) 3/23

4619 miles done and only 915 miles to go. I haven’t slept at all. We’ve watched 3 movies (the rest of the plane and I). Flying during the day makes it hard to sleep. Plus, these seats are so small, too small to really sleep for very long. I think it is 8:25PM back home. Really hard to get my head around the fact that I have spent all of this time on the plane. Almost 10 hours since boarding the plane. I think 2 more hours to go.

1:40AM Merchant Court Hotel .... Singapore

I’ve just reached my room. I left my house to go to LAX 27 hours ago. I must be insane. I’m here now and this will be fun.

7:37PM Brewerkz Restaurant, Clark Quay area (Quay is pronounced “key”)

I think this was a good day. I got a pretty good feel for the area. As I suspected, what might look like a long walk on a map really isn’t.

I must say, the Muslim women here are very dedicated to their religion. Even though the heat index is over 100, they go right on wearing the head scarf as well as long pants and a long shirt. I know in this part of the world it is very hot and there are a lot of Muslim countries. But in most of those countries it is Muslim or else. No choice in the matter. In this country the women have a choice. The Muslim women here choose to be so, and end up being really hot. So I’m very impressed. I sweat in shorts and a T-shirt and they wear clothes more appropriate for 50 degree weather, not 100.

I’m starting to get sleepy now. It’s been a long couple of days. It’s about 8:20PM and I feel like I could be in bed by 9. But it is my birthday so part of me is saying to go out and find a club to dance in. I think my sleepy side will win out as I sit here at the restaurant on the edge of the river in Clark Quay. I might try the river cruise tonight. The temp. is perfect.

A fair amount of construction going on in this city. Even now a construction crane is moving about. I wonder what they are building.

3/26 8:40AM Singapore Botanic Gardens

There is a 1 hour guided walk starting at 9AM. I read about it on the internet. I think I am the first to sign up. To get here I took the subway from the hotel. At the next stop I changed to another subway line. 2 stops after that was the Orchard Rd. area where I got off. I then caught a taxi to make it the rest of the way. It cost about $5.70 for the taxi. Maybe a 5-10 minute ride. On the road leading to the Gardens we passed some houses. The first I had seen here. This must be a very well to do area. The houses were nice, not huge or overdone. The cars give them away however. In one driveway was 3 jaguars. Others had an H2 hummer, and quite a few Mercedes. A lot of people jogging in the Gardens. Many of them white. I wonder if they live in the neighborhood or drive here to be able to jog in the Gardens. I also saw a police vehicle for the first time. It was a bus and from the looks of it outfitted to transport inmates. Not many police to be seen in general. With the reputation of Singapore you would think no one would do anything wrong. I was actually surprised to see that police bus. Almost time for the tour. It should be an hour. Afterwards I will go by the Orchard Gardens.

3/27 Sunday 5:56PM

We’ve gotten some afternoon rain the last 2 days. I was hoping for a cool down effect, but it didn’t really happen. I was in the subway yesterday when it happened. Today I got a little wet but it didn’t really matter. I dried off pretty quick.

The buildings aren’t as air-conditioned as Hong Kong. In HK my glasses would always fog up upon going outside. Here that doesn’t happen.

I’m killing time in the hotel’s bar right now. I’ve signed up for a night tour and the pick-up time in in 25 minutes. It is the first time I’ve taken an organized tour on this trip. Hopefully it will cover some areas of the city that I haven’t been to yet. it should also include a river tour.

I got a pretty bad burn on my legs so I’m trying to get out of the sun a little more, compared to the first two days. I put on sunscreen each day so I must have gotten the burn from sweating off the sunscreen and from being out in the sun longer than the lotion’s effectiveness. It is really bad on the insides of both of my legs. Somewhat bad on my arms. The legs are already starting to itch. I am putting on aloe vera gel at night, but it isn’t working as much as I’d like. The first two days I was outside walking a lot during the worst part of the day. Since then I’ve been trying to get inside from noon to 2 or 3PM. Either get to a mall or get back to the hotel.


On the tour bus. Leaving right on time. Everything has been on time

3/28 9:28AM

I’m on my way to the Jurong Bird Park. Also in the area is a Chinese Garden and a Japanese Garden. I’ll try and get to those depending on the time and weather. Since I received a pretty bad sunburn on my legs on either the first or second day here I have been trying to avoid going out in the noonday sun. I figure it must be at it’s worst then.


Here i am at the end of the East/West subway line. It seems to be the oldest of the lines. No “please mind the gap” voice on this subway. Once we got away from the city center it became an above ground train. Pretty flat country. Lots of apartment blocks and school. Now I’m going to try and catch a taxi to the Bird Park.

Instead of a taxi it looks like I will be taking a bus. There is a huge bus terminal here. Extremely well organized. At least 1 bus stops at the Bird Park. Right now it looks to be a cloudy day. I don’t mind at all. It’s probably a bit cooler because of it, but not much. Rain always a possibility it seems. Quite like Florida in the summer.


The bus worked out well. Very popular. Everyone got off at this stop. There is also a reptile park in the area, but most or all seem to be heading to the Bird Park.


I just passed a family who brought a snack with them. A snack of hard boiled eggs. They are eating eggs in front of the birds. How Rude!


Back on the subway now. Taxis were waiting at the entrance to the Bird Park so I couldn’t resist taking one back to the MRT station. Only 4 dollars. I just didn’t want to wait for the bus. The clouds started to burn away about an hour ago and the sun really started to make it’s presence felt. There is a nice little lake at the Chinese Garden stop. It looks like a nice place. Right now I don’t have anything to do tomorrow morning so I could come back out here, but I doubt I will. Most likely it will have to wait until the next trip to Singapore.


Back to the subway. I’m off to the Night Safari. Basically a zoo with lights. The brochure says to expect the journey to be around an hour.I will change subway lines twice, which means I’m going to end up on all 3 lines on this trip. I could go a way in which I only end up on 2 lines, but I think I will be further away from the Night Safari at that subway station versus the way I am going. Once I get to the subway station mentioned in the brochure I will take a bus or taxi to the zoo. If it is as convenient as the Bird Park then I will take the bus.


I’ve made it to the first subway. It is just pulling in.


Waiting at the bus stop.


On the bus and on our way.



3/29 1:45PM The Coffee Connoisseur

Trying to figure out what to do today. I had a lazy morning. I went to bed after 1AM since I got back from the Night Safari very late. I probably didn’t get down to breakfast until 9:30AM. After that I did some packing, some reading, and catching up on the news. I didn’t feel the earthquake last night. Apparently some in the north and west did.

I just had an excellent creamy corn soup. This is a bit of an upscale coffee place. Some high end coffees from around the world with prices to reflect such hard to get coffee. A Blue Mountain is $9.90 a cup. I don’t know how big the cup is. No Kona on the menu. Many espresso drinks, hot and cold, as well as liqueur added coffee drinks. Nice salads, sandwiches, and other food offerings.

I think I will try and get to 3 ethnic shopping areas today using the subway. I don’t know if I will get to them after I do happy hour. I want to try a Singapore Sling before I depart the island.

I had the typical traveler anxiety today. I thought to myself what if my departure was actually today and I had confused the dates. I checked and of course just some silly anxiety. I arranged for a taxi to meet me at 4:40AM for my ride to the airport. This is my only option for getting to the airport at such an early hour.

3/29 sometime after 5PM - Equinox, the bar on the 71st Floor of the Stamford Hotel

I was told they served Singapore Slings for happy hour, but apparently that is not the case. They are full price, $21.50. I will have a different drink instead. A Stamford Tower, only $10 during happy hour. No food here so i don’t plan on staying long.

I forgot my watch (and my lip balm), so I have no idea what time it is. I only know that I left the hotel a little before 5PM. After this I will head towards one of the places that I want to shop at and I will keep an eye out for a happy hour bar that has food. I feel like I should have a Singapore Sling before I leave. Now it is a quest. Apparently it is a gin drink. I haven’t had many gin drinks in my life. This Stamford Tower is a run drink. Some blueberry flavor is involved.

3/30 9AM Tokyo

We’ve only been in the air for a few minutes on our way to Tokyo. About a 6 hour flight going in this direction. I might try and get some sleep once brunch is done with. I’m not sure if they will serve it right away. The goal on flights like these is to try and keep myself distracted so I don’t think about the time remaining.

I wasn’t able to find a happy hour yesterday after I left Equinox. I didn’t have a Singapore Sling during the entire trip. Something for next time. I only had 2 drinks the entire trip. One on the first night and one on the last night.


Push back from the gate at Narita. In the air about 4:20PM. It is 11:20PM in LA. I wonder how much nighttime we will have. I’ll try to write down when it gets dark and when we get a sunrise.

12:30AM LA time

Just about sunset. Pretty quick since we are going East and some nice color to it.

I started to see the dawn a little after 5AM. I didn’t really sleep much.


Well, that is it. I didn’t write anything else on that trip. I never want to fly to Asia in coach again. Flying to Japan and then to Singapore was too much. 2 very long flights back to back. If I wasn’t on a restricted free flight I would have done it a different way. Stopping for a day or two in Tokyo would have been much better. But next time I will probably be back to fly on EVA Air. A step up from coach, which makes a tremendous difference.

That is all for now.

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