Have you been paying attention? Paulene and Trevor are sharing their insights and delights while on their extended holiday…
After four nights we left Maikhao’s oasis of luxury reluctantly, and flew back to Singapore to meet up with our travelling companions, Darrel and Deirdre, freshly (or exhaustedly) from the dreaded 2:30am flight from Brisbane.
We had planned this trip over several months, carefully researching flights, routes and accommodation through different internet sites. I found sites such as Tripadvisor, Booking.com, and Expedia very helpful in checking out hotels. I never made a booking without reading reviews of each hotel. I found accommodation in Singapore to be expensive, but planning to a budget and location sometimes requires sacrifice.
The reviews had warned of the size of the bedroom and multi-purpose nature of the toilet room in this Singapore hotel, but I couldn’t imagine just how small it actually was.
The room of our one night hotel accommodation in Singapore may have just fitted into the Phuket resort’s bathroom. The shower was situated on the wall above the toilet, and it was an exercise in gymnastics to reach the toilet paper, where dislocation of the arm was a distinct possibility.
In Europe most of our accommodation will be in gites and apartments. A gite is holiday accommodation, usually a small house or part of a barn conversion, etc, and often situated in the country or small towns.
A gite provides a kitchen and laundry, essential for long term budget travelling. In the past we have resourced gites which have been located in pretty little villages away from common tourist routes, with a lot of opportunity to mix with local people, shop in local markets, and cook with fresh authentic ingredients. Many of the gites we have used in the past, and for this trip, have been owned by British people who use them themselves and let them out for a bit of extra income. I used sites such as Homelidays and Friendly Rentals to locate gites, but there are many others.
We have found sharing accommodation such as gite or apartment with friends/family helps keep the budget down, as well as the fun aspect of this. It is also important to have others who are interested in your travels to remember experiences together, when all others quickly retreat when they anticipate another showing of holiday photos and recollections.
There has been a massive amount of change and development in Singapore since our last visit five years ago, and we planned to check out the new Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino complex. Towering over the city it is hard to miss, an amazing engineering structure.
Once there, we were faced with the $20 choice of having access to a large part of the 56th floor observation deck, shaped like a boat perched high up in the sky, or go to the 57th floor Sky Bar for free, where there are good views (though not as good as the 56th) but you must buy a drink at the bar. Naturally we chose the latter.
The drinks were as magnificent as the view.
It had been a humid day, so wandering through the nearby Gardens in the Bay in the early evening cool was welcome. It is impossible to believe these are new gardens. The massive colourful plantings of bromeliads and other tropical species in a series of themed gardens belie the belief this is a recently established garden. I suggest that even at this stage it must count among the spectacular gardens of the world. At no cost, it is a must to visit.
For the small sum of Singapore $5 each, we took a lift up to the Sky Walk at the gardens. The Sky Walk is a walkway suspended by steel pylons from massive water towers, disguised by a cover of plantings of colourful species, including many flowering orchids.
It was a delightful experience walking across this gently swaying structure, with cooling breezes and a bird’s eye view of the gardens, river and harbour far below. We smiled at the boisterous children charging around with anxious parents trying to intervene and control, and the young Asian woman close to tears, fearful of the height, being gently and tenderly escorted by her partner. We would have liked to stay for the evening laser light show, but dinner beckoned, and a 5:30am rise for our flight to Dubai and Lyon in the morning meant early to bed. There was so much we didn’t see which means a return visit is essential.
No visit to Singapore is complete without dinner at Clarke Quay. I know it is over-rated and expensive and touristy and so not the thing to do, but nevertheless it is what you do — so we did it. We had the obligatory Chilli Crab alongside the river at Clarke Quay, watching the boats passing by, sauce dripping down our arms, soaking up the atmosphere, and anticipating good things to come.
Stay tuned for more of Paulene and Trevor’s adventure.