Saturday, July 6, 2013

Singapore trip

Went to Singapore for the third time last weekend with my roommate. We really wanted to go somewhere for the long weekend. July 1st is the anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the Mainland so we get the day off. Hong Kong people really like to travel so all flights on or near that weekend are either sold out or really pricey. It seemed like all my FB friends were on vacation. The only choices for under $2,000 HKD round trip was Singapore, KL, or Taiwan. My roommate's brother lives in KL but he wasn't in town that weekend. And both of us have been to KL and didn't find it very interesting. Taiwan was a good choice because both of us want to explore more of Taipei and trains to nearby towns are convenient. But my roommate hasn't been to Singapore yet so that was definitely a winner.The only thing about the cheap flight to Singapore is that the flight is at a bad time. In fact, flying became the major highlight of our trip.

The flight is with United and it is actually a connecting flight between Chicago (origin of the flight) and Singapore. The flight was supposed to leave at 8pm on Friday night and get to Singapore at around midnight. But the flight was delayed at takeoff for 6 hours so we ended up leaving HK at 2am. We were really tired when we finally boarded the flight. I was smart to bring an eye mask and slept the entire 3+ hours. We got to Singapore pretty early in the morning and stumbled into our hostel. We were told that we couldn't check in until 3pm so we dropped off our bags and went exploring.

We had food at a nearby hawker food place. There weren't very many choices so early in the morning but we were satisfied with some fresh noodles. We then did a lot of walking and explored Little India until it got too hot outside. We went to Orchard Road and walked around the malls some more. Right when we were completely exhausted from the lack of sleep and all the walking, we spotted a really nice couch in a public resting area inside a fancy mall. We promptly sat down and fell asleep. Felt really refreshed after that!

We went back to the hostel, cleaned up, napped, and then went back outside when it was getting dark. We got chili crab in Chinatown and then walked around the harbour front area and even went inside Marina Bay Sands before going back to the hostel and had a really good night's sleep.

That night, we decided that we did pretty well with the sightseeing on Saturday. We happened to find a visitor's center in Chinatown and they offered a few dollars off for tickets to Universal Studios. It was recommended by friends along with Night Safari. Ideally we would do both but decided against buying tickets for both. I think that was a good choice because we would have been really tired. The lady was really helpful and we even had a plan of attack.

Unfortunately we overslept a bit and didn't make it to the park right when it opened. It didn't seem like a very busy weekend though so the lines weren't all that long. We went on ride after ride and even took a picture with the Cookie Monster!! I need to get that picture off my roommate. We got tired at around 3 or 4pm and left for the beach part of Sentosa. I napped on the beach. I had bought my swimsuit with me but was too lazy to go change.

After this we had dinner near our hostel and relaxed at our hostel before heading to the airport. Our flight leaves at 6am Monday morning so we had planned to spend the night at this world famous airport. We got to the airport before midnight only to find that there were no United staff at the counters. So we couldn't check in. All the nice amenities are inside the departure terminal! We could even see it through the glass walls. We were really disappointed and walked around until we found an aviation gallery (made for kids) that was relatively quiet, out of the way, and already had people sleeping on the benches and the floor. I went to sleep pretty much right away and woke up before 3am because I was getting cold. I got a tea latte from the Coffee Bean near the check in and found out that we can check in at 3:30am. I also found nice couches at the Coffee Bean that would have been much nicer to camp out in.

We finally checked in and walked around the really nice departure terminal. We went to the butterfly dome where all the butterflies were sleeping. Sat down at some foot massage chairs. I found that my left leg is definitely much more muscular than my right leg. I think it is generally normal for right handed people to have stronger left legs because this balances your body out. But I think after continuous exercise on site, my legs have become a lot stronger. The foot massage also does thighs and I definitely felt that my left leg is a lot harder! Anyway, we also found the movie theater where they show free movies. The chairs were comfortable and had lots of legroom. It was a good thing I set an alarm because otherwise, we would have missed our flight.

Our flight back was a bit turbulent because there was a typhoon nearby. The typhoon unfortunately was not very close to Hong Kong so no chance of a day off. I didn't feel so well at the last part of the flight. We made it back home after spending a lot of time at airports and sleeping in public places. I spent the rest of the day just chilling around the apartment because it was pouring rain outside. I had wanted to check out the annual march that Hong Kongers hold on July 1st to voice their opinions about the current government. The starting point is in Victoria Park, which is really close to where I live. But it started to rain right when they started, just like the June 4th thing. And I was really tired. So I just watched it on TV. I think I am a lot less productive these days with this TV around.

Anyway, it was a good trip. I really like Singapore. It is like Hong Kong but with more ethnic groups. I think if I ever end up doing a long SE Asia backpacking type trip, I would definitely schedule Singapore somewhere in the middle just to get a break. It is such an easy city to get around, especially for English speakers. And even if you didn't speak English, you can also get around in Chinese, Tamil, or Malaysian.

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