Singapore Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
Today is the day! Finally time has come to leave for Myanmar. We get up at six, pack the last few things and drive a good 90 minutes to Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam. We check in at 8.45 am and this is when we meet our first fellow travelers, Mick and Willem from Belgium.
Once on board we find out that virtually our entire travel party are seated near each other, so acquaintances are quickle made. The flight to Singapore takes almost twelve hours, therefor I am very grateful for the plethora of movies from which anyone can choose and watch on his own private lcd screen. I watch Balls of Fury and Resident Evil: Extinction, neither of them are masterpieces, but they’re a good pastime. Sleeping while on an airplane is one thing I can hardly ever pull off, so I play some computer games and I even take a beginner course Spanish, which was no more than a pastime as well, because I can’t remember anything I’ve learned anymore.
Trudy and I are planning on visiting Singapore, instead of waiting all those hours on the airport. At first we seem to be the only ones, but as time goes by more and more people are getting fond of the idea of taking a tour in the City of the Lion. Once landed we head for the Service Desk where we have to book our tour. The lady tells us that the tour is considered a service towards transit travelers and therefor it is free of charge.
Since the bus leaves at nine and it’s only seven at the moment, we have plenty of time to take a stroll in the huge transit area of Changi Airport, which is extremely clean and has lots of flowers and ponds.
We were told to be at the Service Desk at 8.30, because the bus leaves at nine and we have to go through customs first. Our City Tour bus isn’t perfect, it has a rather small window surface, limiting our view, and the windows aren’t that clean either. But we can’t complain, it’s good value for money. The highway that leads to town is hemmed with palm trees, that on their turn are covered with ferns, making it all look very lush and fresh. Our guide is talking almost constantly, giving lots of information about the city’s population, history and whatever more she can think of. The story of the descent of the city’s name for instance was very nice. Singapore comes from the 15th century name Singapura, meaning the City of the Lion.
When we enter the city, we see on our left near the shore, the building site of the Singapore Flyer. This is going to be a huge ferriswheel, even taller than the London Eye, from which on a clear day, some islands of the Indonesian archepilago can be seen. It is still under construction but it is already enormous. From the moment it opens, somewhere in February, the first three months worth of rides are fully booked, so no chance of seeing Singapore from the sky on our return trip to Holland.
The next landmark we come across is the new Esplanade concert hall that, from a distance, looks very much like a durian fruit because of the movable triangles that are used to control the accoustics of the building.
A little later we get off the bus to go on a little boatride. When walking to the boat we see the statue of Sir Thomas Raffles, who founded a trading post on the most southern point of the Malakkan peninsula. The trading post grew out to be modern day Singapore. The boatride on itself doesn’t take long, some 15 minutes, but it shows us some things of the city we haven’t seen yet, the contrast between ordinary houses and skyscrapers standing only metres apart, the Esplanade from a different angle and, of course, the famous symbol of the city, the Merlion.
It’s only 10.30 am when we get back to Changi Airport and say goodbye to our guide who hasn’t been quiet for two minutes, so we decide to have lunch and enjoy some peace and quiet at the Hardrock Café in Terminal 3.
We take the Skytrain back to Terminal 2, due to the enormous overcapacity of the airport (70 million maximum, while only 4.4 million pass through Changi annually) there’s a natural calm and tranquillity all over the place.
Our flight to Yangon is delayed for 90 minutes due to a technical malfunction and while we wait we fill out the immigration form for Birmese customs. This takes quite some time, because they want to know everything that has (even remotely) to do with our traveling.
The long hours without sleep start taking their toll and Trudy takes a nap on the floor, which is not a problem, since on this airport there’s not a square metre without tapestry floor covering. I am getting quite tired myself and doze off, while our plane is being catered.