There’s been six years between my first trip to Singapore and my most recent trip. I can’t believe it’s been that long but it definitely didn’t feel it! However, Singapore is such a fast-developing city so there were plenty of noticeable changes. When I first went, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel had only just opened but now it’s arguably the most iconic part of Singapore’s skyline! More on those changes in a later post.
To get to Singapore, I took an extremely short flight with their national carrier, Singapore Airlines, from Kuala Lumpur. It took just under an hour from take-off to landing. (My train journey to work in London used to take longer than that!). Just enough time to read one of the free (and pristinely folded) newspapers on board and look out the window. Perfect. My hosts in Kuala Lumpur call that flight route the ‘bus in the sky’, haha. They love to spend weekends in Singapore because flights from KL are so quick 🙂
Things in Singapore have a reputation for being utterly efficient and straightforward. Changi airport is consistently rated the top airport in the world and it’s a perfect introduction to Singapore’s way of getting things done.
However, despite how ludicrously simple Changi airport is to navigate, I was a complete idiot and somehow managed to forget to pick up my bag from the luggage carousel and I ended up in the arrivals hall rather empty handed….! I blame this on me being tired! I’d had a really long day! The penny dropped when I saw the line of people with their suitcases at the airport entrance, queueing for a taxi. What followed was about 20 minutes of solid embarrassment. Once you’re through immigration and customs in an airport, you can’t re-enter ‘air side’ (where the luggage carousels are). The automatic doors obviously wouldn’t let me back in. I tried waving to an immigration officer to get her attention but that didn’t work. I went to an information point in the arrivals hall and confessed what an idiot I’d been. Clearly I’m not the only one who’s ever done this because they have a special form to fill out for you to be granted permission to re-enter ‘air side’…
Sort of like a criminal, I had to be escorted by an immigration officer back through the hall, had my hand luggage x-rayed, my body patted down and I had to confirm my reason for re-entering. Understandable really. As I was a young woman travelling alone with a lot of luggage, I probably fit the description of a stereotypical drug smuggler. They also asked me to describe my bag before they escorted me to the luggage carousal. Again, probably to make sure my story added up and I wasn’t being sent to the airport to collect an abandoned bag of illegal drugs! Singapore has a totally no-nonsence approach to drug smuggling; you’ll get the death penalty if you’re caught.
After much apologising and ‘thank-you’s I made my way in a taxi to my home-stay in the north of Singapore. I stayed with a newly married couple, Lin and Jia-Wei, who were so incredibly welcoming and friendly. Despite me not arriving until almost 11pm, Lin and I stayed up chatting for several hours and she even made me a snack!! So sweet. ❤ ❤
Their apartment was a perfect place to base myself (although a little far-out from the main city) and it was honestly THE most pristine place I have ever stayed. The walls were perfectly white, as was the furniture, and there was even a little robot hoover who would clean at 10am each day!
Lin also gave me lots of helpful maps and info about Singapore which was much appreciated, even though I’d visited before. I was all settled in and couldn’t wait to start exploring in the morning.
Stay tuned this week for plenty of Singapore photos and adventure stories!