I arrived in Singapore late on Sunday evening to find the same lovely huge airport, and the same darned boarding gate at the furthest end!
Thank goodness for the travellators.
I don’t lightly make the comment that Changi Airport is lovely – it actually is really nice. We all know how tedious the process of international travel can be now that we must go through much earlier check-in and then the various other screenings, so to find a welcoming feeling in the departure/arrival area is very pleasant indeed.
This landing mirrored my previous experiences here – quickly off the airplane, on to the travellators (love those things!), and down through the shopping precinct to customs and baggage collection. The one-person queues at customs belies the fact that this is a very busy airport, much busier than Auckland and yet that much less fuss. Then the usual wait for the bags ensues, but the delay doesn’t matter quite so much because the wall between you and the “real world” is glass and you can see family or friends waiting for you. Together you can share the patience test that is the baggage carousel.
Finally I have my luggage and it is out through the glass doors and to John, who has already been in Singapore for a week.
There are many forms of transport to your abode of choice, but the simplest is the humble taxi. For those new to Singapore it can be somewhat of a revelation that you can go from nearly one side of the island nation to the other for less than S$ 30. My taxi (sorry, Corporate Cab, as I was corrected by my driver) from home to the airport in Auckland was NZ$ 40 and that is a 15 minute drive !!
So we took the stress-free option and joined the taxi rank queue, which took about a minute to melt away (pardon the pun – it is the tropics after all), and we were on our way.
As we were staying on the south coast in an area known as Katong, the trip was swift and easy on the East Coast Parkway. This is a suburban area, and not really a tourist spot. ie. It isn’t anywhere near Orchard Road.
In compensation we get a view of the ocean from the hotel, and the parking lot for shipping that are the waters around Singapore; access to East Coast Park should we want a bit of greenery during our stay; and easy (and cheap) bus rides to the central areas of town whenever we wanted to go.
A surprise at the end of my 15 hour odyssey from New Zealand to Singapore was to find that John had been given an upgraded room because he was staying for two weeks. We had the luxury of a Junior Suite.
Now don’t get all excited, it isn’t one of those types of hotels you see on the travel shows. It is nice and simple, and not glitzy 5-star luxury with gold tapware and silk beadspreads. But it was rather a bonus to have a kitchen and another whole room to
make a mess of, I mean enjoy the use of.
And, as for John’s dire prediction of waking up at some ungodly Singapore hour due to the 5 hour time difference between my New Zealand bodyclock and the local timezone, that didn’t really eventuate. I’m not much of a night person normally, so arriving in Singapore at 9pm (2am NZ time) was a surefire guarantee that I would manage at least 8 hours sleep without so much as a murmur.
The only problem – what to do with the morning hours between 6am when you wake up and 10am when the retail sector of Singapore opens up?
Ah, that’s right, read the tourist literature that John picked up at the airport while waiting for me, catch up on world events through the eyes of CNN and BBC World, have a leisurely buffet breakfast and take an amble around the local streets. This time of day being most suitable for outdoor ambling due to the slightly cooler (mid-20s celsius) temperature and slightly weaker sunlight.
Finally take a dip in the pool, while trying to work out the physics of why in a tropical climate the pool water should feel like you have just stepped into iceberg infested waters.
Then you are set up for a day of sightseeing and/or shopping, whichever takes your fancy.