The flight to Singapore was at 6.20 a.m. of November 19. The plan was to stay overnight in Singapore before boarding the cruise ship at noon of the following day. I was going to meet a friend and long-time Singapore resident, Malou, and we’d have coffee.
On the evening of November 18, I finished packing and I weighed my luggage. 12.9 kg. Why so much clothes? It was a nine-day trip and I discovered that laundry on board the ship would cost me USD4 for a blouse and the price is the same for a pair of pants or shorts. So, I packed a lot of clothes. With Cebu Pacific, the maximum is 15 kg. and I wondered how much shopping I could do without paying for the excess weight on the flight back. I pulled the pajamas out of the bag. The bottle of shampoo and lotion as well. I might as well sleep every night in my undies. I got rid of 0.9 kg. but that was it. Never mind. It was an incentive to go frugal with the shopping.
The wait at the airport was uneventful (well, except for this woman with the glittery black jacket and this other woman with the glittery boots). Four of us were travelling together, I got to the airport first, got bored and went online and posted a few things in Twitter.
Fast forward to about five-and-a-half hours later. We landed at Changi International Airport. From there, we took a cab and, from the front seat, I was taking photos.
My friends said we should ride the Singapore Flyer; I said they could and I’d wait for them on the ground. Mobile things that high just aren’t my cup of tea. Or, to be more precise, put me on something that high, and moves, after I’ve had a cup of tea and I’m likely to throw up the tea. I know my limitations so never mind the Singapore Flyer.
So, we drove directly to the Peninsula Excelsior Hotel where we were booked for a day. It was not yet 11.00 a.m., the rooms weren’t available yet but we checked in anyway so we could dump our luggage. Then, we started hunting for food. We saw signs with food photos, we followed the signs to an underground food court. The name? Heck, I don’t remember. We just wanted food so never mind the name of the food court.
The cuisine? I honestly don’t remember that either. Burmese, maybe. We looked at the food, we pointed to the ones we wanted and that was that. Everything was delicious; who cares really what the dishes were called?
After lunch, and after arranging to meet Malou at Suntec City Mall, we entered the City Hall train station and walked the underground labyrinth of shops and restaurants all the way to Suntec City. Despite the heavy lunch, we couldn’t resist the ice cream.
And we each had a cup of ice cream. Weren’t we worried that we were already overeating and it was only the first day of our vacation? We reasoned that we were going to do A LOT of walking anyway so we could afford the extra food. Nice reason, eh? So, we had ice cream. And walked some more. Several minutes later, we climbed the stairs up to Suntec City Mall.
There was a huge Christmas tree out front and we took photos.
And then shit happened. It rained. I mean it really poured. And that was after we decided we’d take one of those hop-on-hop-off buses and do some sightseeing. Darn.
To make a long story short, we finally met up with Malou who suggested the Duck Tour — an hour of sightseeing around the Marina Bay aboard an amphibian bus. We bought the tickets at a counter in Suntec City but the bus was about the leave. Would we have to wait for the next one? I was worried about the time because I had a dinner date. But the guy at the ticket counter suddenly smiled and spoke to me in Filipino, held the bus until we could board (ain’t that lovely?) so we made it to the 3.00 to 4.00 p.m. tour.
Our tour guide introduced himself as Chris and he’s a Filipino too. And a great tour guide he was.
We all knew about the Merlion but it was the first time we heard that there was a baby Merlion behind the water-spewing one.
Why are the people in the photo carrying umbrellas? Told you, it was raining. And I was having a hard time with two cams neither of which I wanted to get wet (the bus wasn’t airconditioned). The rain and gray skies should explain the somber hues of the photos too.
Anyway, a few more interesting things I learned during the Duck Tour. The Singapore Supreme Court building looks like a flying saucer. Sleek and modern, the design maximizes the use of natural light. The Esplanade, popularly known as “The Durian”, was originally designed to look like the tops of microphones but, after construction, they looked more like a pair of durians to the locals. And… a casino under construction. Expected to be operational by 2012, there’s a very interesting story about the casino but I’d rather write about that as a separate entry.
The Duck Tour started and ended at Suntec City Mall and, once back, we decided to have an early dinner. I don’t know if it was because we were hungry (I don’t think we were at that point) but the food court seemed to be calling us.
So, we had dimsum. A lot of dimsum. At Fortunate Restaurant. And, heck, the dimsum was delicious. Especially, the radish cakes.
Then, it was time to walk back to the hotel. We passed by the Japanese store selling the cute handmade stuffed toys again and I finally bought the T-shirts for Sam and Alex. I was supposed to break away from the group at that point to meet my dinner dates but we passed by this coffee shop where the cakes on display were simply too mouth-watering to resist.
So, we went in and ordered coffee and cakes. And chatted some more. All-girl group, you know. Chatting was the order of the day. And that was when I started to feel the onset of indigestion. I was getting that awful feeling and I just knew that I needed to get to the hotel — and the bathroom — fast. Much as I regretted it, I texted Doc Emer to beg off. Aside from the indigestion, my legs felt cramp-y from all the walking, the camera bag was dead weight on my shoulder, and… well. So, it was back to the hotel for us.