14 May 2016

Singapore May 2016 travelogue

With the Singapore dollar at ₹50, it's not a trip for the tight-fisted or the faint hearted !

Decided to go with another family(neighbours) as our kids are close friends of each other. Figured kids are most cooperative when they have companions they are comfortable with, and boy, it worked ! The other family had one 6 yr old and one 15 yr old. So all ages were represented :-) The teenager sometimes babysat the kiddos which left us adults to enjoy on our own.

Coming back to the planning, we did not go for group or package tour as we wanted to go at our own pace. Booked the flight tickets back in Jan, got a good deal with JetAirways - direct flight from Mumbai of 5 hr 45 mins. It required travel from Pune-Mumbai bringing travel time to total of 12-13 hrs one way due to 3 hr check in for international flight.
Next was hotel bookings. Debated on hotel vs service apt vs Airbnb. All cost the same bomb. Booked for 3 nights in Sentosa and 3 in Singapore at separate hotels. Did not wish to stay at one place in Singapore and travel back and forth to Sentosa with kids. Turned out to be another good decision.

Travel was smooth except that the immigration at Mumbai airport took much longer than expected. Had booked 2 cabs to Mumbai airport and then a single one from Changi airport to Sentosa. The latter was a good 45 min drive but the cab was a merc and so quite comfortable! Hotel at Sentosa was luxurious with a huge balcony. But the dinner was super-expensive and we were too tired to head out for other options at that time.

Had booked 5-out-of-top-12 + Universal studios on Viator app in advance of the trip. Plan was to cover S.E.A Aquarium, cable car ride and the show "Wings of Time" on first day. Headed out of hotel at 10:30(got delayed due to jet lag) and had breakfast at one of the (cheaper)eateries on the way. Realised we needed to convert vouchers to physical tickets so the men made a detour for that first. Till then we girls sweated it out in the resorts world - did I mention the weather is 3 times more humid than Mumbai? By the time we entered aquarium it was noon (need I say the kids were cranky?)

The Aquarium experience was cool (pun intended!) Nicely air conditioned, laid out in semi darkness so the sea creatures were highlighted in their dazzling glory. There were creatures around, above and even below you, separated by glass partitions. Had a pizza lunch (only thing available at 3:30) which was hugely liked by kids, veggies as well as non-veggies. The dinner and lunch had set us back by quite a lot by now. Next was the cable car ride with beautiful aerial views of the city. Made it to the 'Wings of Time' show at 7:45 just in time. Had stopped for ice cream etc. as the humidity was exhausting. The show is overhyped and too short for the effort we put into reaching the venue but was made quite creatively with laser beams. Had dinner at good old MacD and headed home.

Second day was Universal Studios. Again, could not head out before 9:30 am (kids slow you down) Had a hearty breakfast of eggs and then entered the Studios around 10:30. Must say we made good progress - by 7:45 had covered the entire area. Kids had fun time obviously, it being their first such experience. Little one enjoyed a couple of roller coasters too. The Transformers ride is supposed to be the main attraction, indeed there was an hour long queue! But frankly, for me at least, it did not impress much. The guys and teenager did the cyclotron galactica ride which is scary, turns you upside down at least thrice in 38 secs. A very satisfying day followed by Malaysian street food for dinner.

Third day was travel to Singapore, check in at hotel and cab to Jurong bird park. The bird park experience was nice but it was sweltering hot that day as if it was going to rain. The 2 bird shows warmed up my little one to birds FINALLY (she has had an irrational fear of birds). Apparently, a parrot saying 'I love you' did the trick (now why had I not thought of it earlier?) Needless to say it made our day, month, year😍 Next was night safari followed by 'Creatures of the night' show. Again a great success with kiddo. Dinner at the food court and back home.

Day 4 was planned in a relaxed manner. Slept in, spent time in the pool at the hotel, had lunch and then headed out to Chinatown. Had planned to avail of MRT (metro service) so took a day pass and commuted by foot and metro. Shopped at Chinatown and got quite good souvenirs but it was raining heavily by the time we finished. Had to abort and take a coffee break. Then off to the Singapore flyer. Had to wait until they resumed services post the rain. We got an entire cube to ourselves and cracked jokes, snapped pics while the kids went a little crazy. Thank God we had the cube to ourselves! Ice cream time and then hailed cabs to MRT station. Thai food at the mall and then walked back home tired with the weather changes and all the walking. Oh yes, our cabbie misheard us and took us somewhere else and we somehow got onto the right station whereas the other family managed to lose their day pass and had to buy new ones. A slightly adventurous day !

Day 5 plan was Science centre, Mer lion park & Gardens by the bay. A very ambitious plan in hindsight. Long ride to Jurong East and then a long walk to Science centre. IMAX movie experience for the kids, followed by kidsStop and then the actual science centre tour. Could not finish it as had to have lunch and head for Merlion park. Another long metro ride and walk to the park. But it was worth it. Clicked lot of photos during the sunset and rested a bit. Then a mad rush to catch the last show at Gardens by the bay. Beautiful tulips and breathtakingly lit gardens. Dinner at food court of the famous Marina Bay Sands - what a HUGE place, walked and walked inside it to find the food court. Last meal was good- seafood dumplings, Indian food at long last for the veggies, pizza for kids and frozen yogurt. And we were done!

Last day was travel back to Pune, smooth overall. Got a foot n leg massage for free at Changi airport that wiped out all the aches and pains of past few days. What an end to an excellent vacation!

A wonderful holiday made memorable by the company of like-minded people who were not scared to splurge a bit, take it easy when required and cracked jokes to keep up flagging spirits. And Singapore is a happening place with lots to do. Couldn't try out the casinos this time as it was a kiddie trip but maybe next time!

If I were not a software engineer

I was a topper at school. Though I was not bad at math and science, I was a whiz with languages. I was obsessed with books of all kinds ...