I had not been back to S'Pore for quite a while. Old friends kept asking me to come back. So, I finally made up my mind and flew back for about four days. And I must say I was quite amazed by the city transformation in all these years.. The 'Merlion city has become a world-class place to visit and has an awesome array of landmarks to discover.
Flight to Singapore.
To go, I chose to fly Thai Air Asia from Don Mueang Airport. Air Asia has drastically improved its flying experience:
- 'Big Shot' is the name of their fidelity membership,
- You can book a hot seat online,
- You can also choose & buy an inflight meal,
- They provide priority boarding for hot seat travelers.
- The onboard experience is good: attractive cabin, attentive air attendants, reclining seat.
The A320-200 flew to S'Pore in 1h55. Luckily the haze that has been affected Singapore lately was not too bad.
Changi Airport and MRT connection to downtown.
Air Asia gets to Terminal 1 at Changi Airport, which remains as pleasant as ever before. The MRT station is now a huge hall that links the airport to the city. The only drawback is that there are only two automatic ticket machines for all the travelers.
Hotel Peninsula Excelsior.
I chose this hotel because it is centrally located. It is only a short walk from City Hall / MRT station. The allocated room was on 16F and had a terrific view over Marina Bay and part of the city. From this hotel, it is possible to walk to many places to visit.
|Bedroom view on the city|
DAY 1 - 21/09.
|Old Hill St. building|
- In the afternoon, I took a quick walk around: St.Andrews Cathedral, the Supreme Court, Singapore River, Old Hill Street Police Station, the Armenian Church and two fine heritage buildings: the Fire-station and the Philatelic Museum.
- In the evening I met with Hélène, the daughter of long-time friends. She used to teach in Malaysia, near Ipoh, but moved to S'Pore two years ago to teach at S'Pore University. This is the time when I discovered S'Pore latest landmark: the stunning Marina Bay Sands Hotel. I met Helen at the foot of Tower 3 to take the elevator up to 59F. The Skybar offers a magnificent panorama on the city. Later, we also explored the Mall and the promenade on Marina Bay. We ate at a restaurant offering beer and pizzas. In the evening, there was a musical fountain show that was really worth seeing.
|Marina Bay at night|
|View from the infinity pool|
|Musical water show|
DAY 2 - 22/09.
- The haze was a bit worse today. I had a long walk that took me to many landmarks: the Padang, Victoria Memorial building, the Cricket Club, the Cavenagh Bridge, the 'Kids Jumping into the River' statue, the venerable Fullerton Hotel and the Merlion. I saw that now the S'Pore Merlin was surrounded by shops, cafés and restaurant along a lovely bay promenade offering a magnificent view on the Marina Bay Sands, the new Arts Science Museum and the Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay. I came back via Boat Quay and its many lovely townhouses turned into bars, cafés and restaurants. I looked for a tapas restaurant as my friend Rick had requested on the next day for dinner.
- I also spent some time visiting the Asian Civilisations Museum. Entrance is free and it is truly a wonderful place to see.
- Later in the evening, I went back to Boat Quay for a drink at happy hour. Then I decided to have dinner at Clarke Quay. I chose to eat at a Mexican restaurant. On the way back, I walked through the area that has been entirely revamped.
- Later on at night, I had a visit from another old Chinese friend, Edwin Chan. We had not met for almost 15 years!
|S'Pore River sculpture|
|The Merlion & the cityscape|
DAY 3 - 23/09.
- It was a long day's walking tour. First, I went to Chinatown. All the townhouses on the way to Chinatown on South Bridge Rd have been restored. I noticed Speaker's Corner at Hong Lim Park. I passed in front of Masjid Jamae (the Mosque) and Sri Mariamman Temple before re-exploring the streets of Chinatown, which has had a huge revamping look. The townhouse facades are gorgeous and very colourful. I pursued the visit to Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. I walked as far as Neil Rd and revisited the area of Tanjung Pagar that has been entirely restored and looks so interesting. I stopped for a drink at a Russian café.
- From there, I walked down Maxwell Rd as far as Telok Ayer Park to take the MRT and go to Orchard Road. This part of town has now an entirely new look. Near the Orchard / MRT station, they had a display of bronze statues showing Dali's work. I walked all the way down to Dhoby Ghaut before taking the MRT back to City Hall and the Peninsula.
- In the evening, I met my old colleague and friend Rick Bisset, who has been teaching at Singapore American School for the past ten years. I met his new wife, Kate, who is from Isan in Thailand. We had a nice entertaining dinner with beer and tapas at Charlie's on Boat Quay.
|Emerald Hill St.|
DAY 4 - 24/09.
Today the haze was really bad. I did not do much before checking out of the hotel by 12-noon. I went back to Changi early in the afternoon to visit the new Terminal 2, do some window-shopping and relax with coffee while waiting for boarding time.
|Changi Terminal 2|
|Terminal 2 tropical garden|
Flight back to Bangkok.
Tiguerair is a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines. Boarding and departure were on time. However, we had to wait on the tarmac due to an unexpected closure of the airport (probably due to the haze hazard). The flying experience was good but I thought that Air Asia was slightly better. It took exactly 2 hours for the A320 to get to Suvarnabhumi Airport.