2020 - SNZA - Days 1 & 2
The alarm went off at 4am. My anxiety meant I had not had much sleep but there was no turning back now. We both quickly readied ourselves for the 5am pickup. Karen decided it was imperative that I emptied the kitchen bin for some reason before we left.
I had booked a taxi from AMC taxis to take us to and from the airport. Their quote was considerably cheaper than anybody else. I was still unhappy with the cost but the prospect of driving back from Heathrow after 21 hours of flying on the way home meant it was the sensible thing to do. In my mind when I offset the cost against petrol, car parking for 4 weeks and probably a Hotel the night before the additional cost was almost marginal.
At 4.50am, the taxi with a very smart driver arrived and before 5am we were on our way. Both of us (that is Karen and I and not the Driver and I) had a doze once we got going. We made good time until we reached the Heathrow tunnel where we were caught up in a 25 minute traffic holdup. Apparently this only happens early mornings at weekends which is strange.
Baggage drop was straightforward and we made our way to find the lounge. Our complimentary lounge membership runs out after this trip and we are unlikely to renew the credit card it came with as it now carries a hefty £575 fee! We were determined to make good use of it this trip. We also think this is the first time we have ever flown from T2.
The lounge was good and we both had the hot breakfast. I then tried to explain to Karen how I was feeling about this trip and how I would like to change our plans for the rest of the year. This did not go down well at all and was left unresolved for now.
Our seats on board for the almost 12 hour flight were middle and aisle. I meekly took the middle as I knew this was what was expected. Singapore airlines have again won best airline award. The seats in economy were comfortable and not stupidly cramped. The service was satisfactory. I still think though that Emirates was better but that may be down to personal preference.
I chose to watch a film called ‘The Night Before’ to start with. It was a bawdy Christmas film which underplayed the romantic element until the very end and overplayed the language and crudeness. The best line which made me laugh out loud was a referral back to the original Home Alone film.
The second film I sat through was Late News starring Emma Thompson. This was worth a watch. Finally I watched Zombieland made back in 2009. I normally cannot be bothered with those type of films, but really enjoyed it. The sequel was also available to watch but I thought I would save that for the next flight.
The main meal on the flight was grim. I just ate the bread roll and cheese. Karen enjoyed hers though, there is no accounting for taste. Then we were served a full tub of some Toffee Apple with Cinnamon Ice Cream. Not that I would have eaten it anyhow but I almost demanded to speak to the pilot to explain the evilness of Cinnamon and how serving it meant they would probably never win airline of the year again. Karen told me to just Shut Up moaning.
In between all this I probably managed about 90 minutes sleep in fits and starts during the flight. The time passed very slowly at the end and I was pleased when we finally landed.
Immigration was both quick and easy. Whilst waiting we messaged the boys and found out that Norwich had somehow managed to win a cup tie whilst we were in the air.
Our bags were waiting for us when we got to the carousel. After a final toilet stop we made our way to the taxi rank and were on our way almost immediately.
As soon as left the airport we remembered why we liked Singapore. This country knows how to do ‘foreign’ properly. They all speak English and drive on the left for a start. Everywhere is immaculately clean and well maintained, even the less affluent areas. Whilst there is an enormous Asian influence in the shops and restaurants, there is a smattering of Western to keep the boring people like me happy. After a 25 minute drive we arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn in the Little India district.
I had requested an early check in but suspected that before 9am was probably pushing it a bit. The manager was however most sympathetic. He said he would have a room ready for us for 11am and offered us free breakfast whilst we waited. He also suggested we just waited at our allocated table in the breakfast room. By now I was starting to feel quite befuddled with tiredness and so gratefully accepted his offer.
We ate slowly from the buffet and I kept nodding off. We managed to stay there until 10.45am when we thought we would chance it back at Reception. To our relief a room was ready. It was in the Hotel annex across the street which did not bother us at all.
Within 5 minutes of getting in the room, I was asleep in the bed. This was after setting an alarm initially for 2 hours later but then we revised it to 3. It woke both of us up with a start at 2pm but we knew we needed to get up and going otherwise we would not sleep again tonight.
We were unsure what to do in our jet lagged state and so decided to wander slowly to Raffles Hotel. We had been here before on a previous visit. It was somewhere my Dad had stayed the night after he was freed from the POW camp and before he was flown home.
As we stepped outside the heat hit us. It was 29c and very humid. We soon understood why the Hotel district was called Little India. It was like being in a Disneyfied version of India itself, with all the same sights and sounds. The difference was that it all felt very safe and friendly,
We then only got as far as Bugis where as we came across a Starbucks we stopped as we were both in need of a drink. We were both looking and feeling befuddled and commented that we were probably not safe to be out in this state without a responsible adult. We were convinced though that we were perfectly in control and no harm would come to us. The drinks gave us a second wind and so we carried onto Raffles.
Raffles itself has just had another refurbishment. It felt very grand and posh and we felt somewhat out of place looking around. We briefly crossed the road to the Civilian War Memorial which was quite touching. We only think of the casualties from the Allied troops forgetting how the people who lived here also suffered when the Japanese invaded in 1942.
By now we thought we had earned a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar of Raffles where they were invented. We waited and were taken to a table next the one we had sat at some 8 years previously. We were given menus and in the end decided to share the drink as they were just over £20 each which in anybodies money is exorbitant. The alcohol soon hit our bloodstream and perked us up tremendously. With a skip in our step we bounded out of the bar and decided we needed a meal somewhere. I looked on Google maps and found there was a Pizza Express on the way back to the Hotel which only needed a small diversion. It was quite empty as presumably everyone else was sampling the local cuisine. We ordered our usual order from the UK and really enjoyed it.
We then started a slow walk back. About half way I had to step in front of Karen to let someone pass by and she noticed that I didn’t have the rucksack on my back that I had set out with. I definitely remember carrying it earlier and assumed I must have left it in Pizza Express. We were by then outside a Burger King with some seats in it and so I left Karen there whilst I hurriedly in the heat and humidity retraced our steps to the restaurant.
To my horror it was not there. I then realised in my befuddled state I had not taken our passports out of the rucksack and it also had the iPad and other things in it. That thought got my adrenaline going and removed all traces of jet lag for the time being.
I tried calling Karen to let her know. It took 3 attempts before she worked out how to answer and speak into her own phone. I remained calm and was not shouting at all for her to hold the phone to her ear.
I had to assume and hoped that I had left the Rucksack in back in Raffles some 2 hours previously. The trouble was it was another mile further back and so I jogged slowly all the way there. The girl at the front desk to my relief produced it from underneath the desk. I was so relieved and to her embaressment I insisted on giving her an enormous hug. I think in this country it may be mean we are now married.
I was so angry with myself. I should have known better and been more careful and responsible. It was I know the jet lag but even so. I phoned Karen to tell her the news and apologised for the inconvenience and worry I had caused. As by now I was dripping with sweat I said I would make it back to her slowly.
With that we made our way back to the Hotel. I cannot think of many countries in the world where Karen would feel safe as we cut through some dark alleys to shorten the route back. There is already a lot to like about Singapore and hopefully tomorrow on a full day with a good night sleep we might enjoy it even more.