Tales of Adventure: Singapore

Singapore-feature

Clearly you’ve never been to Singapore… the words of Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean fame, who clearly believes Elizabeth Swan has seen nothing of exotic world outside the islands.

How shocked he would be today.

I have been to Singapore once. During a long layover, on my way back to Australia after a whirlwind trip to Europe (but that’s a story for another day). I was originally scheduled to go through Guangzhou in China, but given a previous 18-hour layover in that airport I was in no rush to revisit.

So, Singapore it was.

Singapore-skyline

I was traveling solo (as per usual) and had arrived at Changi Airport early in the morning. One of the coolest perks of flying with Singapore Airlines is that if you have a layover of more than 5 hours, you can see the city for free. The airline and the airport have jointly organized a complimentary 2-hour tours for travelers in transit. A marvelous idea!

One I did not have the smarts after an overnight flight from Amsterdam, on which I couldn’t sleep because I was too worried about falling from the sky and dying… (again, another story for another time).

I arrived at Changi, heavy carry-on in tow. I hung around the airport long enough to take advantage of the shower facilities, but not long enough to grab any food. I would just grab something in town! I want the real food, not the airport cuisine!

Singapore-Clarke-Quay

The first thing you’ll notice about Singapore, it’s not a breakfast town. It was amazingly quiet for a weekday morning. Hardly a soul to be seen. And when I did pass people, it was usually expat women chatting with American accents while they were out for their morning exercise. Not exactly that exotic paradise of Captain Jack Sparrow’s description. But that was fine – it just felt good to get out and move my legs!

Singapore-bridge

Singapore-Merlion

I had a few things on my checklist for my 15-hour layover in Singapore. That should be plenty of time to see the city, right? First stop: One Fullerton. This is the home of the famous Merlion, which the mascot and national personification of Singapore. It also sits on the bank directly opposite the Marina Bay Sands, of infinity pool fame. Everyone has seen those seemingly death-defying photos of people leaning over the side of the pool, the whole of Singapore laid out multiple stories below them. I would have loved to go up there, but alas, in my inability to research before trips, I had no idea they have an observation deck available to the public.

Singapore-Marina-Bay-Sands

So I missed out on that bucket list item… oops. By this time I was getting pretty hungry, so I wandering aimlessly trying to find a place to grab an authentic Singaporean meal. Yeah… that doesn’t happen in the morning. I ended up wandering into a shopping mall and stopping by a food court stand that was the only open place in the entire building. And I ate whatever dish I ordered (I can’t even remember) in a completely quiet dining area. Let’s just say this was a case of get in, eat, and get out. But at least now I was fueled for more exploring.

Singapore-buildings

And this is where is all turned south. I don’t know about you, but after long-haul flights my ankles are pretty much non-existent. So my shoes, that were normally quite comfortable for long periods of time, were a bit tight. The humidity didn’t help either. In comes, my favorite thing… blisters. Okay, let’s head over to Orchard Road, where at least the malls were opening and people were beginning to stir. I bought a pair of sandals, hoping for relief. I was to be disappointed. By this time my jet lag was kicking in, my feet were throbbing, and my overstuffed carry-on was beginning to become unbearable. Not to mention my lovely “summer dress” was become so soaked with sweat that my earlier shower was soon to be pointless. This is when I gave up. I marched by tired, defeated self back to the airport and took advantage of perhaps its best feature: the napping areas. I didn’t even get my coveted Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel. And I didn’t even care.

This was one of my only truly misses, when my desire for spontaneous wandering proved to be less rewarding that doing research and planning an itinerary. Has anyone else had similar experiences? It is now my intention, dear Singapore, to visit you again one day. And this time, I’ll get that Singapore Sling, sans blisters.


SUNDAY TRAVELER BADGE TEAL1 Hometown Gems: Omaha, NebraskaThis post was written as part of the #SundayTraveler series, hosted by Chasing the DonkeyPack me ToA Southern GypsyThe Fairytale Traveler, and Ice Cream & Permafrost. Check them out for other grew travel posts, and don’t forget to add your own!

 

  • aw no! I’ve never took advantage of layovers, I’m too paranoid about missing flights and what not to ever want to leave the airport.

    • I usually don’t either, especially when I am carrying a super heavy bag or something, but this time I DID have 15 hours… lol. If I had a layover like that again I’d probably just push it back further and fly out the next day. Or I’d carry less stuff, and do more research!

  • I think that’s really amazing the airline offers a tour if you have a long layover. Glad you got to do some exploring!

    • I thought that was an amazing offer as well! I really wish I had done it – I had planned to, but for some reason decided I would set out on my own… next time I will approach it wayyyy differently! lol

      • Either way you got to explore 🙂 Still sounds like a win to me.

        • This is very true. And it was better than staying the airport the whole time! 🙂

  • Mandie Sanders

    I’m usually a huge fan of the aimless wandering, but I think it works much better in smaller, more condensed cities. I felt the same way in Budapest…like, maybe I should have actually planned an itinerary. And I once purposely booked a flight with an 18 hour layover in Toronto just because I wanted to re-visit the city. Lol. Haven’t been to Singapore yet but it’s on my list for sure!

    • I agree with that – smaller, more condensed cities are work way better. I had done a tiny bit of research, and made a tentative list of things I wanted to see, if it hadn’t been for those damn blisters!! lol That’s what really slowed me down. Singapore is still on my list, and I want to see it at night. Maybe even take a photo at the infinity pool at the top of the Marina Bay Sands. 😉

  • slightly astray

    I usually fail at planning and having itineraries too, but when there’s not much time to explore, i guess it’s important to have one! But I don’t think I would mind being stuck at the Changi Airport, because I heard that it’s just as cool as the actual city, with good, affordable food!

    • Changi Airport is amazing!! I was certainly very comfortable hanging out there. I’m not deterred from exploring a new place during a long layover again, but I would be better prepared. Such as pack less to carry-on (it gets soooo heavy!) and spend more time looking at a map. I might also pick the first place I want to go, such as a restaurant, and use that as a starting point. Then I could ask the wait staff for recommendations. I did learn a lot on this one 15-hour period!! 🙂

  • Oh dear, what a pity. But even Singaporeans lament that Singapore is HOT. We’re heading to Singapore for a few nights before a Malay Peninsula cruise next year. We’re scared we’ll spend more time running back to our AC hotel than out exploring the sights.

    • I’m sure if I had done better on the planning end I could have stuck it out longer. Part of my problem was that I was wandering around. and it was too early and everything was closed. It was certainly hot, but the public transport was air conditioned and efficient. Just make sure to wear shoes that won’t give blisters if your feet sweat. The cruise sounds wonderful though!

  • Direct flights take the cake for convenience for sure!! But, there is no such thing from Europe to Australia lol. I had connected in China on my way, but due to the visas I couldn’t leave the airport… so that was less than desirable. For Singapore, I didn’t need a visa, and it was a place that had been on my list for awhile. And it’s still on my list! Glad to see you back in the blogging world!! 🙂

    • Oh I see. That’s interesting about China. I thought there was a 72 hour Visa-free transit system of some sort, where as long as your layover wasn’t more than 72 hours you didn’t need a Visa (and could leave the airport)? Perhaps I’m wrong as I only heard about this from a friend. But I thought that would be a good way to visit China – if it’s possible! Thanks, let’s hope I’m not so hopeless this time and can keep it up! 🙂

      • I hadn’t heard of the 72-hour visa, but that would be a good idea! And sounds plausible – the hotel I booked had tons of reviews from people in transit, so I figured it wouldn’t be an issue. I’ll be even more annoyed now to find out that visa does exist! lol

        • I just Googled it and it definitely does exist! It only applies to certain airports and travellers of certain nationalities (there are 50 listed) but it is a possibility. I did notice it was only introduced some time in 2013, so perhaps you were visiting before then?

          • Of course it does! lol I was traveling in 2012 though, and maybe it didn’t apply to Americans. Our visa restrictions are usually pretty strict, because we’re so strict with others coming into the United States. It’s definitely something to look into for the future though if I ever take that sort of route again!

  • I was in Singapore for one night a few years back. I was traveling overland in Southeast Asia and was catching a boat from Singapore to Indonesia. The one thing I decided to do? Go to the zoo. It was spectacular! I went during the evening and it was such a cool experience that I would highly recommend.

    • I’ve always heard the zoo there is amazing! That would have been a good option for a long layover as well. I keep finding more and more reasons to return to Singapore, so I’m thinking I might have to make it an overnight layover or a coupe days trip on its own someday. Indonesia would be awesome as well!

  • Dave

    I always try to strike a balance between the wandering and research. If there’s a way to wander in between experiences/sights without getting too lost, I attempt to work it in that way. At the very least the airport had a napping station for you! That is true attention to the client.

    • The napping stations are one of the most popular features of Changi Airport!! That and the free movie theater lol. I probably would have lasted longer if I had napped first, THEN hit the town, but alas… I was backwards on this one. Next time! 🙂

  • Sometimes things just don’t work out. That’s okay. You can always go back to Singapore another time. What’s important is listening to your body and letting it tell you what to do. I’ve definitely had times where I tried to push too far only to have my body completely fail me the next day. Not worth it. And napping areas ftw!

    • Yep, that’s what I figured. I wasn’t going to enjoy myself any more by pushing it, so I returned to the airport knowing I could always return someday. And the next time I will have a better plan in place!

  • For me personally, I did not fall in love with Singapore the first time around in 2011, although I admit I did love the view and the drinks at the top of the Marina Bay Sands. I likely will give it another try in a couple of years 😀

    • I’m with you on that. I think I really need to see it at night when it’s all lit up, or for the i Light Marina Bay festival or something like that. I’m not a big shopper, so that activity was out. I think a weekend would suffice – I might consider doing a couple day layover at some point. Just call me stubborn and unwilling to say Singapore beat me – same reason I HAVE to go back to Bangkok!! lol

  • Christa Thompson

    Hello, on behalf of Christa, host of The Sunday Traveler, I was stopping by to check out your article. Better to have tried than to have not and never have known I say. Singapore seems much more inviting at night based on pictures I’ve seen. I do think it is very nice of them to offer that 2 hr tour though. Talk about incentive, I wish all major airports across the globe would grasp that concept. But it’s my understanding that it depends on where you are if that is in fact permissible. :-/

    • Hi Christa! Thanks so much for stopping by! It’s a great concept you guys have going with the Sunday Traveler – I’ve really enjoyed getting more involved with it. I was happy that I was able to at least leave the airport and explore a little (unlike in China… where I had my 18 hour layover… ugh). That was miserable. But at least stepping foot in the city gave me an idea of what it was like, and I must say, I was impressed with the cleanliness and efficiency of the place. It made me totally willing to fly through there again, and make an overnight or weekend stop there. I’ve never heard of another airline or airport hosting a free tour of their city, but I love the idea. Brilliant way to promote tourism!

  • Corinne Vail

    Amy, I love Singapore and I think it’s so great that you could do a day trip without a cost.

    • That is an excellent perk of flying through Singapore! I really need to try that city out again one of these days. 🙂