If you want to visit an Asian country but are a little concerned that it is too different from what you are used to, then let me suggest you visit Singapore. Blogger Hubby had been in Korea and Japan decades ago and wasn’t anxious to return to Asia – a little “too different” for him to feel comfortable. The transit system confused him as did maps, directions, reading a menu and making himself understood and understanding others. Everyone was king but he still felt “lost”.
With our recent trip to Australia, we were allowed to have a free stopover as part of our long haul flight – everyone gets this on a long haul. We had debated between stopping in Bangkok and Singapore. Singapore finally won since it was a former British colony, the official language was English and I had heard wonderful reviews of how clean and easy to navigate around the city.
We flew into Singapore on Singapore Air, one of the top airlines in the world. We were advised to keep our boarding passes as we could get discounts at several different places in Singapore by showing our boarding passes. Also, when you arrive at Changi Airport you need to visit one of the Information booths and ask for your free Changi money! They actually give you $20 SGD to spend in the airport. This works for both inbound and outbound flights on Singapore Airline.
What began for us as a simple stopover turned into one of the highlights of our trip. Singapore is so much more than we imagined.
Our wonderful travel agent booked us a room at the 5 star Fullerton Hotel which is at the mouth of the Singapore River. We opted not to stay at busy Orchard Street where all the shopping is. Rooms at the Fullerton were a little expensive for us so we booked an interior courtyard view room but since our travel agent books there frequently, we were upgraded to the river view and given lounge access (more about that later). Our plan was to charge the room on our Capital One Venture credit card where I had points that I could apply to the cost of the hotel using their purchase eraser feature. This unique redemption feature gives credit card holders the ability to erase the cost of previous travel expenses using their reward miles.
Our hotel was the former general post office building for Singapore and converted to an elegant hotel with construction beginning in 1997. It is very elegant and very definitely something we had never experienced. It felt like an out of body experience for us. As we exited the taxi, the bellman took our luggage as he noted our name on it. When we checked in, we were told that they were expecting us and escorted us to our room where they showed us how to work all the controls including opening and closing the draperies. A plate of homemade chocolates, and scrumptious fruit was waiting for us. I can’t remember the last time that we were escorted to our room, our luggage already there and that we had to be shown controls. I felt totally pampered and it was a great feeling.
As we looked out through the window in our room, we saw the river, the beautiful pedestrian bridges that crossed the river as well as the outdoor pool. Along the riverside by our hotel was one of the stops to board the riverboats that plied the Singapore River. A few steps away from the riverboat stop was unique statues of young boys getting ready to jump into the river – very lifelike statues and the subject of many photographers.
The riverboats are a great way to take in the sites along the river and the bay where the Merlion, the symbol of Singapore greets visitors spouting water out of his large mouth. Along the bay we saw the lotus shaped building that is the ArtScience Museum of Singapore.
Singapore is such a modern city in terms of its architecture but also still has a colonial feel to it as well as being a culturally diverse city.
Coming up next – one of the three main neighborhoods – Chinatown.