Subha Manoj

While I Was Away

Subha Manoj

Ta-Da! Singapore

Long time is not even a word when it comes to this much
delayed post. Life has been busy and I am seriously learning not to push myself
hard to do everything possible under the sky. So when I get free time, I read
or go for a walk. And then we decided go for a much deserved vacation. We thought why
not an international destination. 
We finally decided on Singapore after much
contemplation. This blog is all about how we planned everything and what we did. Hope it helps anyone who wants to plan a trip to
Singapore J
The crowd: My husband (M), son (A), daughter (N) and moi. A
is 8 years old and N is 4 years old.

When: September 27th to Oct 2nd 2014
From: Bangalore, India
Did someone help us with the trip: Yes, we came across
Travel Gees, a bunch of travel enthusiasts from Hyderabad. They are not travel
agents. They are just planners but they were like an encyclopedia for us. The
person who planned our whole trip was Prasiddha and I must say her knowledge
about Singapore was just par excellence. They told us about all the best deals
which were coming up and we booked everything ourselves. This included the
places to visit, hotel and flights.You could contact them here.
Why not travel agents: We are not group travellers and love
our freedom of space and time. Moreover, Singapore is a very traveller friendly
country where everything is super organized and safe. Information is all we
need, and Travel Gees did a very good job for us.
The ‘to’ journey:
The flight was at 1:10 am on 27th September. We
reached the airport precisely by 10 pm. The usual procedures took not very
long. N was feeling sleepy, but refused to sleep looking at all the hustle
around her. Our kids are early sleepers. They have never seen night life beyond
9 pm on usual days and 10 pm is like OMG! As soon as we sat in the plane, the
kids went plonk…zzzzz. We travelled by Tiger Airways.
About Tiger, well it is an economy airline. And trust me
they are highly economical for various reasons. The tickets came cheap. It also
helped that we got an ICICI Bank debit card offer. These guys run on a very low
economic scale. By that I mean, they don’t even serve water…I mean come on! I
would not recommend Tiger Airways if you love to commute in super comfort. Do
not forget travel pillows, they are a necessity.
Time lag: Singapore runs 2.5 hours ahead of India. I would say it is
not much a big deal even with kids. Ours did not face even a single ounce of
difficulty adjusting. In fact, the ahead time lag helped us stretch our attractions-hunting
time too. We slept usually by 11 pm, which is basically 8:30 pm IST, which was
just the time the kids went to bed.
Visa & Currency: Singapore dollars. 1 SGD is about 50 INR. We bought all our foreign
currency from India itself through Cox and King who also arranged our visas. We
carried 900 SGD for 6 days and we finished it almost. We also used Credit Cards
in certain restaurants.
Our abode:We stayed in Parc Sovereign, Tyrwhitt (Lavender Road) which
is very close to Little India. I strongly recommend staying closer to Little India
because of food. We as a family are food lovers, love to experiment and we
are non-vegetarians too. The first two days we totally were on local food, by
that I mean food from Lavender food court and other local food courts which is
typical Chinese food (Singapore has a high Chinese population). The good thing
is it is cheap. Every dish is around 2 -3 SGD. By the end of two days, we were
bored and our taste buds stopped liking the bland, soupy taste and the smell started
lingering in the mouth. Moreover local food is a lot into pork and we do not
eat pork. If you are a vegetarian, Little India is your place.
So after 2 days,
we decided to up our budget for food. (What the heck! We were on a holiday)
After that we tried good Thai, Japanese restaurants, Little India joints,
fish-chips-burgers-steak joints. They are totally worth it. Do try them.
The hotel was decent. We had booked a superior loft, but
after the first day, we came back tired to the room to find that the AC was not
working. The hotel staff was very apologetic and immediately upgraded us to
Deluxe Suite + complimentary breakfast till the end of our stay. The best thing
was free wi-fi and internet TV. We watched our favourite American comedy shows throughout. Check them out here and here.
Day 1: We reached the hotel from the airport by 9 am. We had
requested for an early check in. The usual check in time was 3 pm (I know…very
late!) but they let us in by 11 am. From 9 – 11 am we went around the hotel,
had breakfast and took a short walk. After taking rest till 4 pm, we took off
to the Duck Tour and Singapore Flyer. They both are at the same venue. I
recommend taking this up in the evening as the evening sight is beautiful as
the lights get on around the city while you are on the flyer. We took a cab on
this day, as we were a little tired due to lack of sleep. We were supposed to
go to Marina Bay Sands for the Wonderful Light and Water Show but gave it a
miss as the kids really wanted to sleep. We all know how happy children
translate to a happy journey, so no taking chances there.

Day 2: We went to Jurong Bird Park. We suggest you reach
early. We reached by 10 am which was good. The bird park is really beautiful.
Honestly I thought I would not like it much because birds are ‘boring’. But I
take back all my words, the birds were amazing! Do not miss the bird shows as
they are worth the visit. I highly recommend using the trams inside and do not
walk a lot. We reached back by 3 pm to the room, took a nice long nap. We were
supposed to go to Gardens by the Bay which is a man-made garden (almost a look alike of
Avatar movie’s garden) but we skipped it as we had seen how it would look during
late evening from the Singapore Flyer the previous evening. Instead we headed
for China Town.

China Town is one the traditional areas of Singapore and is
a must visit. I loved shopping here. I picked souvenirs, bags, jewelery, hair
clips, chopsticks, and a million other things, It came cheap too. I swear I
could have spent the night there! M literally had to pull me away to have
dinner. A kept telling me how silly I am to squeal looking at things in the
shops. The only person who understood my feelings was N, who happily glided with
me from one shop to another. Of course it helped that I bought a bag full of
hair clips for her. The food here is very good. 

Day 3: The mega day! Universal Studios. This one took the
cake by all means. From Harbour Front  MRT station you could either take the Sentosa
Board Walk to Universal Studios which costs 1 SGD per person or take a Mono
train which is free. While going we took the Sentosa Board Walk and while
returning the Mono Train. The Sentosa Board Walk gives a beautiful view of the water all around with ships. 
There are 7 stations or themes inside Universal Studios and each is a
world in its own. It has everything for every age and liking. There were a few
rides which N could not get on because of height restrictions. Must visit rides/shows are
Shrek 4-D Adventure, Donkey Live, Madagascar: A crate adventure, WaterWorld,
Canopy Flyer and Transformers The Ride. There are many road shows which is
worth the sight. We loved the Stardots ice-cream, which is basically yoghurt ice-cream
with toppings. Yummmm! While coming out, we had popcorns from Garrett Popcorn
and shall I say it melts in the mouth, literally. We reached home by late evening,
and all we could do was watch the re runs of Big Bang Theory in the room and go
off to sleep.

Day 4: We went to Singapore Zoo. We were keen to know how
different these zoos are from the ones in India. I had loved the Mysore zoo. So
here’s the thing. It is literally like animals’ natural habitat. Monkeys actually hang just next to you! I
did not particularly like the elephant show. I felt sad for the elephants that
were trained to do many things. The mahuts kept poking them. L I highly recommend using
the trams inside and do not walk a lot. Singapore Zoo was tiring and we did not do
much that day, expect for lazing around in the hotel.

Day 5: Sea Aquarium and Siloso Beach in Sentosa. This time
we took the cable car ride from Harbour Front  MRT. The view is amazing and the children
loved it to the core. You can actually see the whole of Singapore from the top.
A was particularly fascinated to figure out whether the cable car moved or the
cable moved while in transit. By the end of the journey, he did finally figure
out his thesis! Oh ya, do have a meal at this place inside The Forum. It is
called Bali Thai. The food is to die for.

In the evening, we set out to Little India and the famous
Mustafa Centre. Now…I had heard big stories about Mustafa. But I was not much bit
impressed by it. Coming from Bangalore, I can say it is disorganized version of
TOTAL Mall. Ok, it is bigger than TOTAL and ofcourse it had too many things being sold cheap, but frankly, I
get it cheaper closer home. I ditched my shopping there and just picked up
packets of dry fruits which was good deal. Toilets can be more clean and the
staff can smile more often.
Dinner was at Little India, and needless to say our Indian
taste buds were craving for paneer, butter roti, salad, jeera rice and dal fry.
Heaven! Little India is actually Big India. As soon as you enter this place, it
is magical. It is magical coz’ Singapore suddenly is chaotic, loud,
traffic-jammed, and people start touching you. I was this close to saying: “Bhaiyya ji, thoda side hona”
Day 6: This was the day we were supposed to check out. The
check out time was 1 pm. Our flight was at 10 pm, so we kept our bags at the safe custody and went to the
City Square Mall which is walking distance. I shopped for a few things at
Watsons… I loved this store. After having late lunch, we reached the airport by 5 pm. 
Commutation: We took 
EZ- Link cards for all of us. N needed a card but we did not have to pay
for her. We took public transport except for 2 times when we took cabs. But it
really is not required. We actually saved a lot on transport. The subway train
and the bus is great and so organized. All you need is the map and you are set.
People in Singapore: Fashion conscious (not necessarily high
end), self obsessed (you will find most of the population taking selfies all
the time), technologically and social networking conscious, some are friendly, most are not, . We could not see a single person not glued to their cell
phones. I swear I was happy to the core when I saw a guy reading a book in the

Life in Singapore: Safe, clean and commutation is like
butter. It is hot and humid, so carry lots of shorts, sleeveless and loose
clothing. Apply sunscreen liberally but I am not sure how well it will help a
person. I don’t know how long it will take for my tan to go off .L Bottled water is
expensive as Singapore is a country which has water shortage and the Government has done an awesome job in setting up water recycling practices, and has thus provided safe drinking water through taps which is
free, so a person has to pay heavily if he wants to buy bottled water. Maps and
tourist friendly booklets are everywhere which helped us a lot. Be ready to walk a lot and good sports shoes is a must. 

One of the coolest things I saw in Changi Airport is a space where children (and adults) can while away their time honing their artistic skills. They have this cool spot where you can pick up papers and crayons and colour your heart out. The children spent a good 1-1.5 hours colouring there. 
Back home 🙂  I just love being back home. Just in time for all the festivities. Feels good and at home in apna India. Hope you had a nice time reading our little extravaganza 🙂

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