15 November 2016
14.11.2016 - 19.12.2016 25 °C
My long-awaited New Zealand expedition is underway 😊 Disconcerting to coincide with the earthquakes, which fortunately hit rural areas this time, but seeing the news-footage of the blocked coastal road, I correctly guessed my motorhome tour-route will be affected.
My first experience of a Business Class flight. Can't say it felt particularly special at Manchester Airport, although priority queues shortened waits a little. The 'special invitation' lounge is nothing to get too excited about - quite cramped but yes, free fairly basic food and drink and obviously more comfortable than standard waiting areas.
Singapore Airlines - impossible not to appreciate the generous personal space and comfort; the glass of champagne on arrival; attentive service; beautifully served, delicious food. Couldn't work out the seat-to-bed conversion, but instant attention from a steward to do it for me - shame I couldn't sleep, but read a whole book and watched two films. Positive report on Rohan crease-resistant linen trousers - survived journey very well.
Arrived Singapore 0800. Warm and humid ad expected - this is the rainy season. Still have to love that warm-blanket feeling, although I'll always prefer the dry heat of the USA desert southwest. Long, long, long(!) walk through to baggage reclaim; easy taxi - $25 to Swissotel Stamford, centrally-located adjacent to Raffles; room not available until 1030, so first walk to see this truly is a city of shopping-malls; comfortable harbour-view room in tallest building in city - opted for accessible balcony on 38th floor (no external access above that - can it be so much safer than 39th floor?!) - great view anyway, including busy harbour and Marina Bay Sands with its 'ship' atop 3 towers. Sleep required! Awoke to first torrential shower; not convinced by advice to carry an umbrella - mine is 'run for cover'! Entertaining family-chat on Messenger - I'm of an age to still be impressed with free, instant global communication, unlike my European travels 40 years ago with memories of booking a UK call in a sweltering Greek telephone-exchange, giving up after a few hours, leaving my parents to hope it would have been just a chat-call when it finally connected more hours later...
Rain passed, headed out to explore. First destination Pan Pacific Hotel with its "coolest lifts in Singapore" (quoting Tom, who stayed there with Jessica on their travels last year) on the outside of the building. Onwards to waterfront via various other hotels and shopping-malls - so glad I'm not a shopper - I'd never get anything else done! Globalisation disappointment with predominately recognisable brands and predominately 'western-featured' shop-mannequins; happy only one Starbucks seen! Suddenly it was dark, but a pleasure to be in a city with a reputation that means no concern for a woman walking anywhere alone. Meandered through accessible parts of Gardens By The Bay (ticket office closed). Returned to Marina Bay Sands event area for fountains/laser show - fighting falling asleep, gave up after 45 minutes wait beyond scheduled show-time, so of course it started when I was on the opposite side of the Marina... Hey-ho, maybe tonight, but it wasn't truly spectacular. Realised hadn't eaten all day and suddenly, close to my hotel, there was a whole run of street-food stalls with a busy dining area, and again Singapore's reputation gave me confidence to order a noodle dish - happy to report tasty and no ill-effects! Trusty step-counter in pocket, quite surprised to have clocked up 20,000 (daily recommended target is 10,000, approx 5 miles), yet looking from my balcony, I'd stayed in a relatively small area...
Side-note primarily for EHS friends - After booking this trip at the beginning of the year, in May a 40-years School Reunion unearthed a friend living here, who happily offered to show me around, but a family-crisis back in UK has meant a dash back to UK. Don't feel bad, Emma - your input would have been most welcome (and, no doubt, time-and-energy-saving!), but I'm doing fine, although sorry to miss you.
So it's now Wednesday 16th - awoke at 0545 to real monsoon conditions, torrential rain, thunder and lightning, low cloud obscuring tops of buildings. I'm guessing no view at all had I been on a higher floor, but I've enjoyed sitting with the doors open as I write. Now 0800 and still raining, though not as heavily. Hoping it becomes a mainly dry day like yesterday.