Saturday, 22 March 2008

Singapore, Day 1

Well, despite thinking it was too good to be true, we actually made it here. Tiger wasn't half as bad as I expected either, they're pretty close to Jetstar service-wise. They even gave us exit row seats for the Melbourne-Darwin leg without us asking. We weren't so lucky on the second leg, so I got very little sleep.

We got into Changi at 4am local time, with no real plan, although we had at least booked a hotel from Darwin (free wireless is great). However check-in wasn't until 2pm, and the first train into town was at 5:30am. The train system here is really cheap, clean and efficient - miles ahead of the Tube in London. For 6am on a public holiday, it was surprisingly busy.

At 6:30 we were wandering around a completely empty CBD with our bags, and took a few dawn photos:

After completely miscalculating how far it was to walk to the hotel, we arrived hot and tired. Even before 8am it's humid here. We were hoping they possibly had a shower we could use, and then wander around until we could come back later that afternoon and check in. The guy on the desk asked if we'd like to upgrade our room for an extra $100 a night, which we initially declined, but he explained we'd get breakfast included, free internet, and access to their business club that meant free beer all day. It didn't take too much convincing to take him up on it. He even said we could check in straight away (at 8am!) for that much needed shower, and could get breakfast today too. It was better than we could have hoped.

This room was apparently one of the best they had, and I never really appreciated what that meant at a 5-star hotel until we saw it. We were on the top floor (29th) and the room was incredible. Two bathrooms, big plasma TV embedded in the wall, full Bose sound system with an iPod dock, jacuzzi in the bathroom, a universal remote that even operated the curtains, and a shower with more controls than the space shuttle.

We explored the rest of the hotel and it was just as amazing. On level 11 there was an outdoor pool, gym, massage rooms, plus a rock climbing wall. The business club was just like the Qantas lounge - wireless, snacks and beer all day, as well as wine, spirits and cocktails after 6 - all free. Couldn't believe the deal the guy had given us; it was pretty expensive at over SGD300 a night, but we looked up the normal rate for suite online... $900 to $1650!

Once we'd gotten unpacked and cleaned up, we caught the train over to Orchard Road, the central shopping district of Singapore. It rained later, but we didn't notice at first, because all the shopping centres are linked with underground tunnels so you can avoid the heat.

At 5 we headed back to Boat Quay and took a bumboat tour along the river, which I'd enjoyed last time I was in Singapore. To find dinner we walked down the many restaurants along the waterside, only to get hassled at every single one by touts determined to show us their identical menus. It got very irritating, but you can play them off against each other, and haggle at least a free round of drinks and a big discount off the bill.

Back at the hotel we had a few quiet drinks at the "M Club" lounge and turned in for an early one, but considering we'd been awake almost two days straight I think we lasted surprisingly well.

The rest of the photos

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