So it’s started. Tool Trip!!!!
After an emotional week with lots of goodbyes, lots of tears but a lot of smiles we headed to our first destination for 2 nights: Singapore!
Not the best of starts though unfortunately, although I’m not going to complain! Due to fog in Dubai the incoming Emirates flight was delayed 2.5 hours. (Free dinner voucher and cake! Yes!) We were just about to make our connecting flight when the pilot decided to park in the wrong spot so we waited an hour on arrival in Dubai for a push tractor to push and pull the A380 into place! Did I mention how incredible the A380 is! No noise, no movement, loads of leg room but it felt ridiculously unnatural!!
Because of the pilot’s bad parking we stayed overnight at Dubai airport. We queued for over an hour on arrival whilst emirates staff dealt with the 500 irate passengers most of who had also missed their connecting flights! We were just super happy getting free cake, fruit juice and water again – Plus a free breakfast from costa before our flight. Brilliant! Every little helps for us to save money! Unfortunately Dubai airport isn’t one of those that calms down during the early hours of the morning and picks up about 6/7am ish. It was ridiculously busy even at 4am! It felt like Oxford Street at Christmas! – No available seats anywhere, it was really noisy and a Muezzin calling full blast at 4:45 = no sleep what so ever for us.
Eventually we boarded our flight to Singapore and arrived to torrential rain and haze but with smiles still on our faces! So a little later than expected our Singapore adventure began!
Words to describe Singapore…..
Sauna, hazy, expensive, modern, cosmopolitan.
Our fav bits about the country –
- Little India – a cool bustling quartier, home to the beautiful and colourful Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple. We were lucky enough to see a ceremony taking place where people queued to give offerings to their gods.
Two streets away we were invited into a mosque (my first experience!) and given a little explanation about the Coran and all its peace, love and friendship particularly with other religions. Really nice to hear until 1 minute later he complained about the bad media coverage of Muslims and said it was because of the Jews!!
- Arab Street and the Kampong Glam area I found really cool. Lots of independent shops, a huge mix of restaurants and a nice coffee culture.
- Raffles Hotel. I wasn’t expecting much as people told me it’s not that special but it’s such a gorgeous building. Very colonial of course and it felt like something straight out of the movies. A shame its smack bang in the middle of modern skyscrapers and offices.
- The architectural design of the avatar styled Skytree Grove in the Gardens by the Sea was pretty spectacular. They definitely had a wow factor!
JM making friends in the Gardens by the Sea.
- Singapore Botanical Gardens. Incredible! We got lost numerous times even with a map! There is so much to see and it was a great breather from the crazy hustle and bustle in the city.
- Parts of the Grand Prix track were still in place and cordoned off. We managed to sneak on and walk a little, taking some pics. Amazing how much tyre residue flies off during the race. The road was covered in little pieces of it. It must be great to watch live in the stands!
Our hostel GustiBnB. The cheapest hostel we could find in Singapore. Clean, comfortable, very friendly staff, good location by Lavender MRT, simple breakfast included and almost empty so nice and quiet.
Not a big fan of……………..
- The haze
- The haze! Unfortunately our photos didn’t turn out great especially our panoramas of the skyline. We were also squinting like crazy in the photos because although the city was hazy and completely overcast it was so bright! Not a good look. We skipped the night photos too. We initially hoped our photos would look like this……
- The salesmen in Chinatown – On our first full day we found a deal for a Go Pro for £200, sold for £500 in the UK. We only had cash on us but the salesman said if we returned the next day and he hasn’t already sold it, he would sell it to us for this price still. We arrived the next day in a hurry between visiting the botanical gardens and catching our flight. Our man wasn’t there. The salesman had changed and this one refused to sell the camera for less than £300 (plus we had to buy an additional 5 accessories which we already had and if not the camera was even more expensive!). Thanks but no thanks. We saved spending money and we’ll continue to use our old school ancient first edition go pro.
- Singapore airport. I’ve heard people say it’s one of the best in the world. Completely disagree! Our excitement of moving on to Sumatra was quickly suppressed by Jet Star who refused to allow us on our plane because we had no return flight out of Indonesia. What a joke! All the blogs and books we had read prior said it’s not compulsory but it could cause questions at immigration once you arrive! So personally we’d prefer to deal with that and then have time to look for a flight once we get there than rushing to find any cheap flight out of indo 1.5h before our flight. (A little explanation – JM and I hope to stay in Indonesia for 6 weeks however at the airport you can only get a visa for 30 days and then extend it got another month once in the country. We have no idea where we will be in 6 weeks so there is no point in booking a return trip restricting our travels until later on) Us along with a few others were trying to find a flight using the airport internet which was absolutely hopeless. So slow, cut out all the time (just like at work in the middle of the North Sea!) and the stress started to mount.The sales desks at the airport of Jetstar and Air Asia were the worst. They could not search flights for us. They could only check flights one at a time specifying an exact date, departure and arrival destination. Nothing more! We would have been there all year searching for a cheap flight. In the end we got on to skyscanner and booked a flight from Bali to Singapore 4 weeks later with Air Asia (15-20% cheaper than at the booking sales desk!) We returned to the useless man at the check-in desk. He seemed happy even though we hadn’t actually received the full confirmation email. Our bags went through and we were a little closer to getting to Sumatra although feeling a little robbed of £80 for unnecessary flights! What was really really really lucky however was the internet site we made our reservation through didn’t approve our payment. We found this out after we got through the Check-in desk and were already through immigration in Medan (where we didn’t need to show any proof of a return flight) and comfortable in our hostel!! Lucky us! Our wasted flights out of the country never went through!
As I always say: “Everything happens for a reason!”
Next stop a night in Medan before heading to Bukit Lawang in the Sumatran Jungle!