I think I would struggle to find a starker contrast with Yangon than Singapore. The moment you step off the plane, it is as everyone says: incredibly clean, comprehensively sign-posted, efficient and very safe. Without even being fully aware of it, thanks to the afore-mentioned sign-posting, I found myself on the sparkling MRT zooming into downtown Singapore. Having located and checked into my hostel, I had been planning on a quiet evening in but then met my two Aussie dorm buddies and ended up sipping a Singapore Sling in the Raffles Long Bar. As you do. Along with a few beers, a kebab, another cocktail, a stroll down Clarke Quay and a nearly empty purse after only 6 hours in the country.
The following day was spent sorting out some life admin, namely buying a new camera, following the death of my trusty Nikon (RIP), and enjoying (yes!) the craziest waxing experience I’ve ever had at Strip Singapore. Despite the heat and humidity, I also enjoyed a walk around and lunch in Little India but would have liked to see at a different time as a lot was closed for Diwali. In the evening, the plan had been to meet up with Audrey from Yangon for a drink atop Marina Bay Sands. With both of us not having access to data, it was a case of old-fashioned meeting up: name a time and a place, and show up. Wonderfully, it worked, even in a place as crazy as Singapore! And what a treat we got when we reached the 57th floor – the twinkling skyscrapers glistening against a burning orange and purple sky, deliciously subtle cocktails, perfectly unnoticeable background music, the right amount of people (unlike London where you’d be jostling for space – though it was a Monday night), and an incredibly futuristic view from pretty much anywhere you stood.
On Tuesday, I checked out of my hostel and into my fancy-pants hotel, which I could afford for just one night and left my jaw hanging on the floor. This trip isn’t really about that sort of thing but being able to treat myself to a night in such luxury felt quite special! I’m actually surprised they let me in considering the filthy state of my backpack and my general attire. As soon as I was alone in my room, I jumped onto the comfiest bed I’ve ever slept in, laughing to myself, incredulous that I was able to save up for this and for this trip, and generally feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I spent the rest of the afternoon between the rooftop infinity pool and my bedroom, munching on complimentary chocolate, sipping proper breakfast tea, either totally naked or in my dressing gown (!), and using the amazing waterfall shower.
The two excursions I made that day were for lunch and dinner. For lunch, I popped over to Din Tai Fung in Raffles City, where I enjoyed their famed pork dumplings and chicken broth, and though they were tasty, I’m not sure they’re entirely worthy of a Michelin star – perhaps I went to the wrong branch. Then, in the evening, I returned to Raffles City, this time to the food court, and enjoyed some tasty rice and chicken. Before that, though, I had made my way to Gardens by the Bay for a short stroll and to enjoy the sunset from the Sky Walk amongst the Super Trees Grove. I hung around a little for the right time, as visitors are only allowed 15min at the top, and went up just as the sun was dipping and the lights were starting to come on. And then the trees lit up! On the way up, I met two French girls I’d seen the previous evening who informed me there was a light show at 7:45pm so I decided to stick around to see what it was all about. And I am very glad I did! Lying on a platform below these gigantic, metallic tree structures, I watched as hundreds of small, coloured lights danced and sparkled in time to music and thought to myself, “This is unreal, this is not me, I’m not in Singapore doing all this!”
On my third and final day, I made the most of my late check-out by enjoying a morning swim and lazing around my room before heading out to Chinatown and the famous Maxwell Road Food Centre for lunch. I was feeling a bit lazy, and I think the luxury and comfort only exacerbated the tiredness that has accumulated over the last seven weeks, but I would highly recommend this place for lunch. It was buzzing with both locals and expats, and the food was super tasty and super cheap, which made a nice change for my bank account. The two men who served me my roast duck and rice were absolute legends, posing for photos and giving me some free roast pork, “just to try, tell us if you like, we hope you like, enjoy!”.
Back at the hotel, I was grateful to be allowed to use the pool for the rest of the afternoon and had front-row seats for the huge thunderstorm that was so loud every clap of thunder made me jump. I do feel a bit like I’ve spent the last 48hrs counting down the hours, minutes and seconds until James arrives, and I did experience some guilt for not doing a huge amount in Singapore, but I needed that time to recover a little. I am utterly exhausted and have been having weird nausea for the past three days, so am looking forward to arriving in Ubud and just chilling for a week. I am ridiculously excited to visit and sightsee with James but I also can’t wait just to be with him and to enjoy each other’s company in the most mundane ways.