Monday, 21 July 2014

Transit in Singapore

We were in Singapore simply for a 5 hour transit. We had been led to believe that we wouldn't be allowed to leave the Airport, and would have to observe what we could from within - but it turned out that we could in fact go wherever we pleased - (as long as we made it back in time for the plane). And so we left, prepared to make the most of our 5 hours in this strange city-state.

It wasn't until leaving the doors of Changi airport that we were truly aware we were in that we were in a tropical country. The heat seemed to engulf our entire bodies, both inside and out. It wasn't heat as it is known in the oceanic climate of New Zealand - where there is no such real thing as 'heat', only the burning effects of the unprotected sun. The sun in Singapore was blocked by clouds, but unlike in NZ, where one could evade the temperature simply by finding shade, this heat was inescapable. One cannot be described tropical, equatorial heat until he experiences it firsthand.

From here, we decided to get straight to it and explore the city centre, taking a taxi (and unlike in NZ, these are actually affordable), we were welcomed by a friendly, informative taxi-driver who showed us the many sights and sounds, as well as the history and politics of Singapore. Antony, being a WW2 expert, was keen to see the War Memorial, which is where the Taxi dropped us off. Leaving the vehicle (which, like every Singapore vehicle, used such excessive AC that the outside climate was rendered unnoticeable), we handed him the 30 dollars with ease, feeling that he had definitely made the trip worthwhile. One thing that Kiwis don't understand, which Singaporeans (and as later I would find out, the Japanese) do understand, is customer service. I don't want to sound posh when I say that - customer service is really not a huge issue to me, but when you enter a country where you are provided with an 'experience' more than a service, it reminds you of whatever is absent back home. Sometimes a (genuine) smile and a 'welcome' is all that you need to do.

We visited the war memorial, which would not be the only one on this trip, before heading to the Marina Sands - the opulent resort near the waterfront. My sole determination for visiting was to ascend to the top of Skypark, which I had vowed to upon first laying eyes of the mighty building. We were also going to visit the Shoppes for something to eat at the food court. Our first meal in Asia was 'Pheonix talons,' a meal of which we had no idea would turn out to be soft, saucy chicken feet. The coating was delicious, but one cannot, especially upon biting into the soft bone, mask the fact that it is so very obvious that they are eating feet. It is one of those definitive moment where we could remind ourselves that 'we have left Oceania and are now in Asia.'

Returning to Changi, we had little time to spare - we hadn't checked out many of the wonderful sites of the Airport. There were still many things to do - Antony's main goal was to use the social tree to send a photo back home so Mum could know we are alright. My main goal was to go for a swim, for the heat was becoming ridiculous. By the end of our time in Singapore, we only had time for one more thing - Antony wanted to find the social tree, but I insisted that we find a pool. We were at odds about this, but when I reasoned that there was no possible way I could go back on the plane with my body in this soaked, sweating and greasy condition, he concurred and we went about looking for a place to wash up. In the end we had to use the Changi Hotel's shower service, costing 16 dollars each. I would've happily paid 50 dollars just to use the shower, as that is how much I craved cold water at that point.

Feeling refreshed, we headed towards the terminal, discovering that once again, we were late for the flight. We wasted no time in heading for our flight towards Korea.

This photo probably captures Singapore the best