When we moved to Hong Kong, Singapore was definitely on my bucket list of places to visit whilst living in Asia. Dan has been there a few times on business and each time he returns saying how spacious, clean, green and flat it is – the opposite of Hong Kong! He says that if I ever went I would wonder why we hadn’t moved there instead of Hong Kong!
So when we had the opportunity to take Joshua there for a football tournament last weekend, we jumped at the chance, tagging on a few extra days either side of the tournament so that we could see the city and enjoy a mini holiday.
My holiday began on the plane. At check-in, Dan was offered an upgrade because of his swanky Marco Polo Gold member status. But only him! No upgrade for the rest of us. But what did he do? Yes, he gave it to his very worthy wife who has carted his children to and from London on 12 hour flights, on her own, generally getting puked on by one or other of her children, whilst he’s made his way on the same journey in the luxury of a solo traveller. Damn right I got the upgrade!! Joshua was green with envy and no amount of coaxing or gold card flashing would convince anyone to give us one more upgrade to allow Josh to join me. There was even an empty seat next to me that he could easily have been moved to. Oh well, sorry Josh!
There wasn’t much time left in the day to do anything after we arrived. To be honest, it was hard to take our eyes off the incredible views from our hotel room, we didn’t need to go anywhere else! So we grabbed a quick bite to eat in the shopping mall attached to the hotel and got an early night, ready for Joshua’s tournament the next day.
After Joshua’s hot and sweaty morning of football we headed straight for the hotel pool for a cool down, sit down and chow down. Just what we all needed. Then later that afternoon I had a very exciting arrangement to meet up with a very old friend of mine. We had gone to primary school together and I can remember us sharing countless girly sleepovers. We lost touch over the years but our parents remained friendly so as a result of that I knew she was living in Singapore and she knew I was in Hong Kong so we arranged to meet up after probably about 25 years (yikes) since we had last seen each other. We had such a lovely afternoon catching up, meeting each others husband’s and kids, strolling the hot streets of Singapore and then cooling down again in the sanctuary of our hotel. They are also moving back to London in the summer so hopefully it won’t be another 25 years until we see each other again! I really hope not.
Next day, when the football was all over we headed across the road to one of the most iconic and famous hotels in the world – Raffles. Mothers Day High Tea awaited and it was delicious. They even had 3 tiers of gluten-free treats ready for Joshua. How many 8 and 3 year olds from Mill Hill can say they have had tea at Raffles?!
At the end of the tea, we were totally stuffed and couldn’t move but we rolled ourselves back to the hotel to change out of our smart clothes and deposit the tea leftovers that we’d had boxed up that we knew we’d fancy again at some point! And off out we went again to the Singapore Flyer. This is basically just like the London Eye but bigger. The biggest in the world apparently. More breathtaking views awaited us. We tried to time our ride with sunset but we were a bit too early and didn’t quite manage it but it was still fabulous. Joshua particularly loved looking down to the Singapore Grand Prix circuit that was right below us and we went for a stroll afterwards all along the track where he was in awe at all the burnt-off rubber that was stuck to the ground from past races.
An extra bonus was that in the vicinity of the Singapore Flyer we found a Fish Foot Spa! Joshua and I had enjoyed one of these together at the Aquarium in Bangkok but Dan and Eden hadn’t been there then. Joshua has been desperate for this experience again so he dragged us all in and before we knew it the 4 of us were sitting there having our feet nibbled by fish. These fish were bigger in size and bigger in number than what we had experienced in Bangkok. Before I knew it my whole feet and legs were covered in nibbling fish and I was writhing around feeling very ticklish. Dan got very into it once he got over the weird sensation of it all and Eden thought it was hysterical having her feet tickled by the fish. It was a real experience.
The next day was our only whole day in Singapore not interrupted by travel or football so we headed to Sentosa – another dream destination for Joshua. http://www.rwsentosa.com/ As well as Universal Studios, Adventure Cove Water Park, several beaches and a million other attractions, there was also the SEA Aquarium, the worlds largest aquarium (of course). There was no chance that Mr Marine Biologist, Oceanographer himself, Joshua Soloway was going to pass up this opportunity so it was clearly the first place we headed. It didn’t disappoint. We are spoilt with having been many times to the magnificent aquarium in Hong Kong so we perhaps weren’t as awestruck as we could have been but the kids had a total blast and completely loved it. I hope it lived up to all of Joshua’s expectations.
Once we were done there we decided to give the day an adventurous turn and headed for the Skyline Luge. http://www.skylineluge.com/luge-singapore/skyline-luge-sentosa/ Ever the cautious and hesitant one, Joshua was working himself up into a pickle imagining himself being trussed up in a shiny skin tight outfit and being flung down a mountain flat on his back in the manner that he had been glued to watching on TV during the Winter Olympics! This wasn’t quite the same funnily enough! But it was a bit heart-in-mouth nonetheless. You had to take a chair lift up the mountain and, not being a skier, I had never done this before. Being scared of heights I would have been more than happy never to ride a chair lift but I soon found myself putting on a brave face and clinging to my kids as we bumped down into our seats and got whisked upwards! Jumping off at the top with not much dignity we collected our safety helmets, sat down on our luge – Josh was on his own and whizzed off without looking back as he and Dan had already done one cycle. I sat down with Eden between my legs, got my quick lesson on how to stop and start and away we went. We went pretty fast weaving in and out of obstacles, navigating fast, tight turns and whooshing our way down. Eden loved it and went for a second time, this time with Dan. Once was enough for me. Josh of course did it 3 times and would have done more if we’d let him.
We had earned our lunch and after a few minutes of walking Eden to sleep in her buggy (meaning a more relaxing lunch for everyone!) we sat down at a restaurant on the beach for lunch and I finally ordered a Singapore Sling. I know it’s a terrible cliche but it would be a crime not to have had one at some point!
That night we headed to a pizza place that Dan had found that did trendy pizzas and also gluten free pizzas so everyone was happy. He picked a branch that was supposedly in a suburban part of Singapore but we encountered an incredibly buzzy, fun area that was full of atmosphere. I think Dan was hoping to see where the locals & expats hung out. I’m not sure if this was it, it seemed too cool but that was fine with us. We even managed to sit outside without melting – too much.
Final morning and we had just enough time to whizz round the city on an open top bus tour taking in anything we may have missed over the past few days. To be honest I found this quite disappointing. We should have sat downstairs in the air conditioning but who does that on an open top bus? So we sat upstairs. We were shaded under a canopy but it was still too hot and the commentary was very sparse compared to others we have heard around the world. We wanted to be told to look left, right, up & down and get cute little stories about things we wouldn’t have noticed on our own but that didn’t really happen. Never mind.
And that was Singapore done. It’s very weird to leave somewhere not knowing when you will remotely come close to visiting there again. I bet the kids go back before we do, when in 10-15 years time they travel around Asia barely remembering anything of what they saw in their childhood. Oh well, we’ve done our best to open their eyes, and ours, to the beauty of Asia and the extremes it has to offer.
Our next journey will fill us with just as much excitement though…
I just need to add as my final thought after quite a lot of recent Cathay Pacific travel …. outside camera!!!! Oh. My. Gosh. That has to be one of the scariest inventions ever. So now, instead of following your journey on the tame, rather dated moving map, you also have the option of watching it on the outside camera attached to the bottom of the plane! Whilst this is really rather boring for most of the flight, especially when travelling at night, for take off and landing it is BLOODY SCARY!! It’s like going on a roller coaster with no preparation when you watch it for the first time. It doesn’t calm the nerves of the anxious traveller either. But somehow it is totally addictive and you can’t not watch. Take off is awesome and breathtaking. And watching the wheels come down for landing and see the pilot land exactly where he should, lining things up to perfection is just incredible.