Day 55/56 Tues 12th and 13th June
Up at 6.45am for an early transfer to airport for the 12 hour 40 minute flight back to Singapore. Our sleep in the yucky smelling hotel room with it's smoke ridden pillows and duvets, was no reason to want to sleep in anyway. We did go through a fairly rigorous check at the Paris customs. I was asked to take off my shoes and my large beaded necklace and put them separately through the detector. Then they went through ALL our souveniers (of which we had a lot by then, of course). They looked in every last little plastic bag and I am sure they were very disapointed they could not take any. We are always very concsious of what we can and cannot take home to NZ with our strigent regulations here. This time we got to experience the HUGE plane - the Airbus A380. Very quiet with smoothe takeoff and landings and hardly a bump the whole way. More room in the seat as well. We have been very lucky with all our flights with turbulence. Hardly had a problem at all and they have also been on time mostly, with no problems with any connecting flights, not that we had many of those either.
Singapore is 6 hours ahead of Paris so we arrived at 6.30am Wed 13th June. Neither of us can sleep on aeroplanes so we were lucky if we had had 1/2 hour each on the flight. Singapore Airlines are really fantastic to fly with but they were very sneaky making us all put the shutters down not too far into the flight, giving us all a false sense of night time. It was still only afternoon in Paris. Those who were used to this going to sleep in the middle of the day, seemed to accommodate that quite well, but not us. By the time we arrived in Singapore, it was still only 12.30pm in France for us and although we had been in England, the time difference was not much different, infact I think it was 11.30pm really for us, so sleep was not really in our body clocks. We had our second lot of Singapore Stopover tickets to collect, like we had the first time. We were wondering how that would be this time. Last time, if you read that blog, we had had great difficulty getting these from 2 very incompetant young women who had typed in the wrong coordinates for our free tickets and told us we had to pay for anything we went on, instead of getting it for free with the Singapore Stopover Programme. Then they realised what they had done, after I said our Daughter who was our Travel Agent would not have put us wrong on this deal.They then gave us our free tickets afterall. This time, we had two men at the counter where you collect your tickets. They were very efficient and pleasant and it was almost like they had all been told to buck up their ideas. We were even asked to fill in a form on their service. How facinating is that! Lisa your complaint to them, after we told you of our horrible experience, may have paid off for fellow travellers perhaps. We had even got through customs, this time with no problems either even having my sewing kit still in my checked - baggage. Last time, we had be pulled aside by the customs agents due to the tiny sewing kit in the checked- in luggage. They had then gone through our baggage to look for a "knife", they were sure, we were concealing in our checked in baggage. I used the tiny scissors they had discovered, while we were on our trip and they were so useless, they couldn't even cut the cheap cotton in the kit I had bought at a $2.00 shop in NZ. That "knife" they thought may be so dangerous, proved to be a very poor excuse for scissors. They couldn't have hurt anyone, even if I had wanted to do that. Hmmm, maybe I could have used them to protect myself in France and Italy from the "knife wielding people and bag snatchers" perhaps.... never thought of that!!! Anyway, we never saw any of those people although we certianly we told constantly to look out for them.
Day 56 Wed 13th June Singapore
26 - 30 degrees sunny, hot and humid and we are in the Peninsula Excelsior Hotel in the heart of town. Really lovely and nearer to the Hop on Hop off bus route, Singapore Flyer and the river than the previous stay on the 19th April at Hotel Royal @ Queens. That was great too though. This hotel has 2 pools. We look forward to a long awaited swim which will be the first during the whole trip in the end. We arrived at the hotel at 8.30am in need of a sleep. We could not check in until 2pm so we left our bags there and found our way to the Hop on Hop off bus to go to the Botanical Gardens. This was something we ran out of time to do in April so we decided that would possibly be a quiet way to spend the morning as we were so tired by now. That was a very wonderful experience albiet humid and due to ourtiredness, we walked very slowly through these tropical gardens and the Orchid Garden. Back on the bus to head back to the hotel. We knew there was a white church near the hotel so we got off at the church stop. Wrong church! It was the Catholic church though and the bells were ringing calling everyone to Mass. St Mary of Lourdes was really lovely and we have never seen so many electric fans go all at once making it a little more bearable than the heat outside. This church was beautifully done with Mary's grotto up behind the alter. Having been to Lourdes and seen the real Grotto, we were intriqued with their lovely interpretation of this. It was lovely to be there and to enjoy the Mass which was in English even though we were the only Europeans in the church. All Singaporians, Chinese and Indians, we noted. Although this was a lunchtime Mass on a Wednesday, there was still more people in the church than we normally have in our St Francis of Assisi parish in Thames on a sunday. What is it with kiwis now that they no longer attend Mass, you have to wonder.
After Mass, when we started walking to where we thought the hotel was, and it wasn't. We realized we were lost again! We get lost a lot eh. This time, overheated and sleep deprived, its 1.30pm (7.30am Paris time and no sleep so far) and also feeling quite dehydrated in this very busy hot city, that we thought we knew our way around, as we had only been there 2 months before for 2 days. Finally, we got back on the bus, bought some water which the driver sells thank goodness and got off at the correct white church, the Anglican church and found our way easily to the hotel. Collect the bags, shower and sleep was all we could think of at that point. A couple of hours sleep revivied us enough to go out again in the evening. This time to use our Singapore Stopover vouchers for the Singapore Flyer again at night. We decided, while it was lovely seeing the city by night so high up again, it was actually better the first time, in the day light, being able to see so much more. We had dinner near the Flyer again, at the same Singaporian market stall, where the locals go and we had enjoyed lunch in April. The same lovely friendly stall holder, selling us the same delicious food we had had from him last time. As I enjoyed eating his lovely food, and noting there was only 1 other European couple eating here, amongst all the locals, I pondered on my time away in Europe and the experiences we had had since we had been to this same stall 2 months before. Here was the same man, still making his wonderfully hot dishes and probably, that is what he had been doing the whole time we were away. Even our drinks were an experience in themselves. They were tropical fruit drinks with heaps of ice all poured into an old tin cup. They tasted so good and we loved the tin cups making it a very simple pleasure for us like what we may have drunk out of when we were children. We then walked the long way back home to our hotel. This time we took the waterfront walk which turned out to be about 6 - 8 km of walking in the end. Lovely though, with the evening air being more bearable. At 9.30pm, when we were about 1/2 way round the riverbank walkway, we noticed lots of people sitting on the terraced steps. We decided to sit down with them to see what they were waiting for. It turned out to be an amazing lazer light, water, bubbles and sound show held on the river, which lit up the whole harbour. A free show that was so spectacular that the locals were enjoying as much as the tourists. Maybe it is everynight perhaps. Not sure, but we were really privilaged to experience it and to be actually on the spot when it started too. I will never forget the elderly Chinese Grandfather dancing with his little 2 year old Grandson in amongst the bubbles that were spraying out of a bubble machine nearby. It was such a simple but beautiful sight, watching the 2 of them, with everyone enjoying the whole experience all around us. We finally got back to the Hotel at 11pm for a much needed long sleep in a very comfortable bed. Yay!