On Sunday morning, August 16, Mark dropped us off at the Cebu airport. We packed as lightly as we could pack for six people–two carry-on suitcases (one of which held a baby sleeping tent and portable high chair), two backpacks, a baby backpack, and a stroller. I crossed my fingers and hoped I had packed enough diapers.
When we planned our trip to Cambodia, we were initially frustrated by the fact that all the cheap tickets had insanely-long layovers in Singapore. Then we decided it was a *feature.* On either end of our trip to Cambodia, we built in almost 24 hours in Singapore–kinda like a 2-for-1 deal. When we arrived in Singapore, we were met at the airport by Ying, a friend Ben made over 12 years ago at the IU School of Informatics. And remember, Singapore just turned 50!
Ying took us to dinner, driving straight to one of Singapore’s hawker centres to sample the many food choices. Singapore is a very diverse city, with Malays, Indians and Chinese all making up a large percentage of the population. Singaporean food really borrows a little bit from everyone. We would have been completely overwhelmed by the hawker centre if Ying hadn’t been there to show us around and order a little of this and a lot of that.
For those of you familiar with the hawker centres, I know you’re dying to know what we ate. We ate Chicken Rice, Chicken Satay, Shrimp Noodles, and Carrot Cake. We drank sugar cane juice and bird nest juice–I’m guessing this is not what it is actually called. But yeah, you know the stuff. Juice with bird nest in it.
After we had sufficiently stuffed ourselves at dinner, we piled back into Ying’s car and he gave us a driving tour of Singapore. We saw Raffles Place, Marina Bay Sands (with a laser light show going on!), Fullerton Hotel, the Esplanade buildings (shaped like giant durian fruits), and last but not least, the Merlion. For those of you as ignorant as I, the Merlion is actually a Mer-Lion. Yes, that kind of Mer. As in, “Mer-man, Pop, Mer-Man.” Except a lion. Ying was duly impressed with Daniel’s familiarity with Singapore. “Is that the MRT? Are those HDB flats? Look at the Singapore Flyer! Which direction is the Garden by the Bay?”
After our personalized tour, Ying delivered us to our hostel in Boat Quay called Prince of Wales Pub. It was actually a pub with a couple bunkrooms on top–I’d say more pub than hostel. But the view was fantastic. One wall of the room is all windows and looking out we could see across the river where the Parliament building and the Asian Civilizations Museum lit up the night sky and reflected off the surface of the river.
That night Clementine was completely over-stimulated. When we got up to our room she wouldn’t stop screaming. So I took her back outside and walked along the water front, crossing Elgin Bridge in one direction, then turned around and walked past restaurant after restaurant in the other. It was a lovely evening and Clementine settled quickly and dropped off to sleep in my arms.
The next morning we got up and walked in the direction of the Esplanade. We walked down to the Merlion to get a closer look by day. Ben admired the city architecture–skyscrapers, and Marina Bay Sands in particular. I admired the old buildings, and Fullerton Hotel in particular. Zion admired the Merlion, and Daniel admired everything.
Just before lunch time we checked out of the pub and took the MRT (Singapore’s subway system) back to Changi airport. Changi is rated as the best airport in the world. It is clean, efficient, and fast, with an orchid garden, theaters, play areas, etc. I wished we had more time to spend just in the airport. We were stumped when we headed toward our gate and we didn’t get stopped at any security checkpoints along the way. Security checkpoints are at each gate, so you don’t go through security until right before you board your flight.
We really enjoyed Singapore, and were glad to be seeing it again on our return trip. Next up–Cambodia!