Day 1 – Up to Singapore
Well, it soon came around, as we didn’t have the luxury of a 14 month build up this time, so we just ambled out the door at the very respectable time of 9:20am, lugging just one case each (but very carefully this time to protect the shoulder...) onto the shuttle trailer for an easy ride to the airport. Check in at Singapore airlines was very quick, so by 10:40, we were all set and ready to go. Auckland airport is one of the better ones around, but the food choices on the public side seem to have been reduced in recent times, so we opted for a Subway; so exotic!
Part of the reason for doing this particular trip was to see if Paula could cope with a ten hour flight. Well, to cut a long story short, ten hours in economy class on any airline, (bearing in mind the seats were designed by Fred Flintstone - for pygmies), should be warning enough. So although we have no complaints about the airline itself, we were able to compare it to Air New Zealand. With ANZ, the entertainment system is active (or most of it), as soon as you get on and your headphones are on your seat, ready. Singapore’s system isn’t active until you are at cruising altitude and they collect the headphones about 45 minutes before you land. Airline seats, particularly if you are tall are rarely comfortable, so we were both glad to arrive in Singapore on time at 7:pm. Day time flights we feel are tougher on the system as it is difficult to sleep when you aren’t tired.
There was no queue at immigration, possibly because quite a few people were either engrossed in duty free shopping or were in transit anyway.
We walked to the luggage carousel - which hadn’t even started moving, leaving Paula in charge whilst I called at the washroom. By the time I was back – two minutes at most, the luggage had arrived and we were straight out the door, where the efficient co-ordinator pointed us to bay 6, where a taxi was waiting and off we went. A $7.80 taxi ride to the Grand Mercure Roxy hotel, where I hopped out of the taxi, carrying two backpacks, but left my briefcase with the computer in the cab! Fortunately, the taxi driver noticed it so no problem. A friendly and speedy check in, with a scratch and win card giving us a 5% discount! We headed to the 14th floor to a clean, comfortable room, with all mod cons, so by 7:45pm we were happily settled in our hotel room and the luggage arrived a few minutes later.
We weren’t exactly hungry, but we needed some fresh air. It was about 30 degrees, so we just wandered across the road to the market and then into the Parkway Shopping Centre, which was air-conditioned, grabbing a coke from McDonalds. The Parkway has an excellent hygienic food hall with an amazing variety of stalls. NZ’s shopping malls all seem to have identical food outlets so it was refreshing to see such local variety. With the 5 hour time difference, we fell into bed at the surprisingly early local time - but 2:30am NZ time for us.
Day 2 – Singapore and a downer - Saturday November 26th
A reasonable sleep and we ambled down to the hotel’s buffet breakfast. Continental for Paula, full for me – of course. A good variety of food on offer and it was all fairly fresh, with a mix of European and Asian offerings. Pats of Lurpak butter too. The coffee machine was way too small for the numbers and appeared to be more suited to an office than a restaurant and the toast machine needed two runs to put any colour onto the bread. Just as we were at the end of our meal, Ros and Arnold from our World Cruise table appeared, so a happy reunion and we sat back down again for a catch up.
The hotel, in addition to the “Scratch & Win” on our promotional booking, also offered a free City tour on the Hop on Hop off bus. We had to use a taxi to get to the “Eye”, (the modern version of the big wheel, as seen in several cities these days) which was again, about $7.80 and boarded the Green route on the hop on bus. We are great fans of these hop on buses, but they do vary. The European ones have a multi language commentary with headphones, but this had alive commentary. Unfortunately, the combination of a guide where English is very much their second language, a very fast paced commentary and a second rate sound system and my own somewhat deteriorated hearing, means that I pick up about one word in ten and have to try and fill in the gaps or ignore it altogether! The Green route took us to the top of Orchard Road where we hopped off and made our way down the street - just as the heavens opened...
Anyone who knows this part of the world at all knows that the weather tends to be very erratic. We dived in and out of several arcades and for something to eat, we found a bakery with an amazing variety of breads, rolls and cakes. We opted for a couple of rolls at about $2.20 each, one with bacon, spring onion and cheese, one was a sausage rill with e local sweetish pastry. McCafe supplied the drinks but I had to go back to the bakery for a repeat order.
We’d had enough by then and headed down the street ready to catch the bus. We saw it coming as it rained and we realised we’d have to run to catch it. Just as I tapped on the window for them to reopen the door, Paula slipped and fell, banging her head on the pavement at the same time as hitting a vertical railing, grazing the top of her head... The guide hopped of the bus and help[d get Paula on board and was most concerned. Fortunately, it was more a graze than a cut and she wasn’t knocked out. As soon as we got back to the eye, another taxi back to the hotel and I managed to chip some ice off the fridge door, so wrapped in a flannel we had an ice pack of sorts.
Although Paula was a bit shaken, she managed a lie down and I went to the foyer at 4pm for a mini meet and greet with a few other cruisers, including Col & Jude, also from our Dawn Princess table.
Later, we staggered over to Parkway and managed a Thai meal - Paula with chicken and noodles and I had a tasty Tom Yum soup total cost, just under $20. There were plenty of dishes elsewhere in the food hall cheaper.
Early to bed again, ready to join the Diamond Princess tomorrow. Woohoo!