The time’s 10 past midnight here in Singapore. Despite the fact I’m tired after such a long trip from the UK I’m also elated to be here so I wanted to get a few memories down in a blog whilst they’re still fresh in my mind.
My flight from Doha was another good one. Rather than the Boeing 777 I’d expected we flew in an Airbus A350-900. They’re decent planes. OK, ignore the fact that when they named the company ‘Airbus’, thus destroying any cachet air travel still had, their planes are good and Qatar’s internal fit-out adds to that. I enjoyed having decent backseat TV screens to watch films on and the archive is excellent – there’s just so much to choose from that it’s impossible to find something you won’t enjoy. The crews are very good too. Predominantly Asian (at least on this sector) they’re only too happy to help.
The seven hour flight meant we arrived at Singapore at night but as I had an aisle and not a window seat I wasn’t too bothered. Plus the A350s are fitted with several external cameras which you can view on screen. The lower body camera’s great fun as you come into land because you can watch the nose wheel deploy then hit the runway!
We touched down a little after 21:00 local time but it took a while to get out of the airport. Immigration were good. My biometric passport wasn’t accepted by the machines so I had to join the manual queue but the woman whom I dealt with was polite and efficient and never asked me for some of the more onerous paperwork-checking like Covid certificates, onwards tickets or suchlike. That said, you don’t even get your passport stamped anymore as you’re required to fill out a form online 3 days before you arrive. I’m not complaining. I’ve enough Singapore stamps as souvenirs and I need the space in my passport for all those EU stamps we get thanks to the Brexitshambles (don’t get me started)!
Finding my way to the metro was a bit of a chore as I’ve not done that route for several years, but in the end it was fine, I just had to negotiate the maze of corridors and escalators to terminal 2. I even had enough credit left on my old ‘EZ card’ from 2017 to get me into the city. The difference in public transport is marked. Everyone’s still wearing masks here in Singapore. Plus, you don’t get the same sort of moronic/rowdy behavior out here that you can do in the UK. I had to change at Expo to get the Downtown line to Jalan Besar although that’s an easy cross-level interchange and everything’s well-signposted. My hotel’s almost right across the road from the metro station (apart from the cheapness, it’s why I picked it). The only chore when I arrived tired after a long flight was that they’d put me on the 4th floor – and there’s no lift! You know it’s the sort of place that might generate a few stories when you arrive to find reception dark ‘cos the staff have gone home – but they’ve left you a room key with a note on the desk and the first guest you bump into is a tipsy Indian transvestite…
Duly settled in I decided to nip out for a celebratory beer. Only one mind. There’s a nice little hawkers market two doors down the road which sells all manner of food – and drink. The food prices don’t seem to have changed that much, but I winced when I bought a large bottle of Tiger beer, which cost £4.80 – in a hawkers market! I suspect I’m going to be on a health kick whilst I’m here as a decent meal will cost you half of that.
Beer prices aside it’s lovely to be back. I’m still getting used to that fact but sitting in the hawkers market, watching the world go by made me feel very at home and at ease. Now for a good night’s sleep and a busy day tomorrow…
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