Finally our great adventure starts… How will it be? How will we doing it?
With some questions and a couple of nerves we start our big adventure…
The fifth of july arrives. All the preparations are made (or have to be made), our bags are packed and we’ve said goodbye to a couple of people for a long time. At 19h15 our flight from Brussels is supposed to start. We’re in the air at 19h45, heading Heathrow. There the big bird – an airbus A-380 – awaits us to bring us to Singapore. Just a little snack in the terminal and a trip along the various tax-free shops later, we walk to the right gate and take a look at the bird… The Qantas kangaroo already smiles, the first picture is a fact and we’re curious about its inner parts.
Boarding time… With ample space, comfortable seats and our private tv we’re taking of.
Relaxed that we’ve made it. After many dreams, a lot more talking and many preparations, all dreams come true! Wonderful. The flight takes up to 12 hours. A time I share between sleeping, eating two well served dinners and watching a couple of movies, while Ilse sleeps all road long, just waking up for – you guessed right – the dinners.
The Singapore terminal approaches… The crew of our flight greets us and we reach the big city. Walking on this airport makes two things clear. We’re still in our familiar Western culture and we enter a multicultural environment. All kind of Asiatic people – from India till Japan and from Russia till Indonesia – many Europeans, Americans, … It’s like every nation is represented. Later, in the city this multiculturality becomes very clear to us. We got some bureaucratic stuff, receive almost immediately our luggage, withdraw some money and head towards the metro.
Soon it becomes clear that we’ve taken a lot of stuff… Up to 46kg main luggage and around 20kg in our hands… Ouch…
Heading to the metro is hard labour, but the ultra modern infrastructure makes it easier. And then the really hard part begins, how do we get from the metro to our hotel in this heath? However it’s 22h, it’s still hot, especially with our travel clothes on and packed like mules! We decide to go for a walk… ‘only five minutes till the hotel’ they told us… Until we see the lawn and ask it again… ‘at least one quarter’… looking at each other, sighing and almost immediately we order a taxi. We’re really a huge attraction for the locals with our 5 bags – 2 backpacks, 2 pieces of hand luggage and a flight bag with camper stuff.
The air conditioned taxi with leather seats delivers us at the hotel. After 18 hours of travelling, passing 6 time zones – we arrive at 10pm local time, while it is only 4pm in Brussels – and struggling with all the stuff we’ve brought, we’re in Singapore!
A fast shower and some adequate clothing later, we’re ready to search for food… Now we really realise we’re in the Asiatic part of the world. Many smaller and bigger shops, lots of people, dirty streets, a multitude of odours (smelly and nice ones) and sounds surround us. And of course the KITCHEN. All kind of vegetables, spices in all possible varieties, rice or noodles, chicken, fish, meat, … an endless list. Mmm… We love it, and take a sweet meal in one of the numerous eat houses along the street… Delicious.
The next two days we discover Singapore… A city with more Apples, Samsungs, Sony’s and other electronic stuff than culture and hospitality! We searched the different quarters of the city and tasted the Asiatic interpretation of our Western culture. Prices are equal to our European standards, the metro’s much more high tech and cleaner than the ones we’re familiar with, streets are based on the American standards with some of the European chaos in it, the driving style from England and the crowded feeling of Asiatic cities. Here I see more smartphones than in America, according to one standard… The bigger, the better.
In the colonial district you still feel and see the enormous impact of the British culture in their colonies. Everything is centralised around a huge cricket field. The famous Raffles hotel, with its cool and broad terraces between the chambers, the baptic church and some other colonial buildings. Everything here breathes grandeur, great wealth of forgotten yet remembered times and cosiness around the long lanes.
From there we take a walk to the shopping area around Orchard Road, the Fifth Avenue of Singapore… On our way we enjoy the delicious kitchen and the incredible service of AirAsia (the Asiatic equivalent of Ryanair). We can upgrade our luggage limit and change an old passport number at minimal costs. Here our money-chasing world can learn from!
In Orchard road one mall competes with 20 other ones and names like Versace, Louis Vuitton, Prada, H&M, Apple, Samsung, Jimmy Cho, … playing games with each other competing in number, space and design. Thats no food for backpackers (and mules) like us.
Little India tells us nothing, except good eating – again – and light covered roads… All temples are closed after 18h, while we arrive there around 20h.
Chinatown instead has a richness we appreciated! An excellent kitchen (both of us took a steamboat), kind people and relaxing, payable massages in the great mall near the metro station. In the middle of the day we take a foot reflexology massage of 45min… Superb, after 1.5 days walking and yet another couple of hours walking ahead. The buddhistic temple in this little China is one of great beauty in the inner parts of such a metropole.
And then… The decadence and greatness of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, the botanical gardens and its huge shopping mall around. All great names and even more pass once again in a revue in this mall. In the centre, a small canal is created and there is even a skate piste with some fake ice floor. An underground passing leads to the hotel lobby, which connects the three hotel towers… During the writing of this part all of a sudden the hammock I’m in tumbles down, luckily no harm is done. The modern architecture is stunning. Curved and straight lines follow each other ingeniously. You pass along all corridors with some escalators, a part of the city environment – all metro stations and malls have huge numbers of them, you find even escalators in the elevated road crossings. So this escalator brings us up, to take a supersonic elevator to the rooftop of the hotel. You got a view over the entire city and if you’re one of the rapid deciders, you can take a glimpse at the skypool over there.
A passage leads from the shopping mall, through the middle of the hotel directly into the botanical gardens. An oasis of green and rest in the heart of the city. Nature and technology are strongly interwoven here. A rest point for us in the crowded city
Our last night in the city we spend in an awful hotel… The Qantas tickets gave us two nights and the third we booked beforehand in a different one. A regrettable choice. We’ve still got nightmares of that room in the Amrise Hotel! Even now, a couple of days later, on the idyllic Kanawa Island.
The next day, we left Singapore for a transit to Denpasar, Bali… One trouble by arriving at the airport… Our luggage! The tickets only allow 45kg main and 14kg hand luggage. So some rearrangements are made to reach that limit, I’ve even travelled with two trousers on… But finally we got almost everything with us, just a couple of things are left behind for a happy, grateful local woman.
For me I’ve got the feeling that the vacation starts there… After another fluent flight, a heavy luggage control with drugs dogs and lots of police, we arrive in Denpasar. Quite an unwelcome entrance, but that changed soon when we got a transfer to our hotel, the Suscottage I. A sigh of relief fills us by entering the room. Here we can stay… But we only got one night. Tomorrow morning, we’re leaving to Labuan Bajo at 10h15… Or so I taught, but that story is for later.
Tonight we take a delicious beach meal, receive a relaxing massage and end the day with rearranging our luggage. On the next local flights only 30kg main and 14kg hand luggage is allowed. So our camping material is left behind, till we re-arrive in Bali.