I was hoping to have a full and busy day here in Singapore but that was thwarted by my airline – Qatar. I’d tried to check-in online with them the other day but their website’s crap. It keeps hanging up. I even tried on my phone where I got a little further before the same thing happened. In frustration I tweeted about it and tagged them in. This gained a response which I thought was hopeful but it proved to be anything but. Whoever was on the other end of the Direct Messages went through the standard checklist. Not quite ‘have you tried turning if off and turning it back on again’ but not far off! When I was asked for information I’d already supplied I started to get a tad tetchy – especially as we were getting nowhere slowly. I was asked if I’d tried using another device – after having explained I’d used both my laptop and smartphone from the initial message. In the end, their bod on the ‘help’ desk gave up, basically. Their ‘constructive’ suggestion was that I turn up at the airport an hour early as I might get a seat I want! FFS! That’s it? What pissed me off even more was that I didn’t even get an apology, never mind any real help. To add insult to injury, Qatar sent me an email this evening asking me to check-in online. They’re oblivious to my earlier problems. Just for fun I clicked on it to see if it’d work. Did it hell…
After getting p*ssed off with Qatar Airlines and with the clock ticking I decided to head out to salvage at least some of the day. I found a local Indian establishment that served and excellent Masala Dosa which I scoffed for brunch before catching an MRT train from Little India down to Marina by the Bay – an area of Singapore that never even existed the first time I came to Singapore. It’s developed a lot since my last visit in 2017. In truth, it’s a fascinating ‘green’ area as it contains so many ecological sites as well as brilliant architecture. There’s ‘cloud forest’ which puts all Victorian palm and greenhouses to shame. Plus, there’s also ‘supertree grove‘ which makes you feel like players in the film ‘Avatar’. As if this wasn’t enough there’s also some great views across the serried ranks of ships waiting their turn to dock in the harbour. There’s so many that they look like a WW2 invasion fleet – on steroids.
In finest ‘mad dogs and Englishmen’ tradition I walked almost all the way back home via a couple of places I’ve long memory of. Needless to say, that culminated in the 2nd shower of the day!
Afterwards I went out again to travel on the MRT whilst getting a few pictures. I pitched up at the end of the line, Marina Bay. Formerly Known as Keppel harbour the place has history, much of which is to do with WW2 evacuations but also a rather audacious seaborne raid launched after the island had fallen to the Japanese. The raid’s remembered by this plaque on the waterfront.
This evening I stayed closer to home as I needed to pack ready for a silly ‘o clock start (thanks, Qatar) whilst giving myself a free few hours to have something to eat, then write this – which was delayed by the fact I got into conversations with total strangers. The first was a retired Air Force technician around my age who now runs fitness classes. He was fascinating to talk to as we both shared a similar (although not identical) perspective, The rest we could agree to have differing opinions on. The second chap I met I bumped into purely because we ended up sharing a table at a popular Indian eatery. He was a wagon driver, originally from Tamil Nadu in the very South of India. He’d left his family behind to come and work in Singapore where he could earn good money and send remittances home. What a lovely way to end my trip, talking to locals and incomers about their very different lives out here.
Now I’m back in the hotel, not quite believing that tomorrow I’ll be flying back to the UK. And what a time to do so. I won’t even touch on the shambles that passes for Government right now. My immediate concern is that there’s up to 40cm of snow predicted for West Yorkshire. A bit of a contrast to where I’m travelling from. But, whatever the weather, I know I’ve a warm welcome awaiting me as Dawn’s coming down to meet me at Heathrow, where we’ve a hotel booked for a night as I land far too late to get a train North.
So, this is my final blog from Asia – on this trip anyway. It won’t be long before I’m back The past two months have been fantastic but I’m not going to try and sum up the trip in this blog as it’s late and I’ve got to pack. Instead, here’s a few pictures from today’s wanderings.