• It had been a long time since either of us heard the horrible sounds of an alarm clock. At 6am on the dot, the once happy sounding robot tone woke us up. Nowadays it made my skin crawl whenever I heard it, because I associated it with early starts. I rolled out of bed and dragged myself towards the shower. It helped wake me up a little, then I went about packing my bag while Sarah showered. We managed to get everything sorted by 7am, and at reception our bus driver was waiting for us.
• It was just the two of us on a 16 seater minibus. I guess that’s why it cost over £20 for the ticket. The journey lasted about an hour, in which time Sarah slept and I listened to podcasts. We were dropped off outside the front doors, and immediately inside we had to scan the luggage. After that it was a case of finding our check in gate to hand over the holdalls. For the first time ever we had our bags checked by security. I presumed it was because we were flying to Singapore that it was so strict. Usually our bags just got thrown on no questions asked. Well except for that one time where I had sniffer dogs giving them the once over. Obviously we had nothing to hide, but it still made me feel like a criminal as the man rummaged through. After handing over our bags we were upgraded to the exit seats. This was great news, as it meant for the 2 hour flight I’d have plenty of legroom. After receiving our boarding passes we went for breakfast. There was a Subway restaurant in the airport, and that was pretty much our only option. Sarah and I both enjoyed a B.L.T, then headed over to the currency exchange to change up our remaining Thai baht. What a surprise, no Singaporean Dollars. We were told we’d be able to exchange our money when we landed. With that, we went through security and immigration, and waited out our time in the departure lounge. Stopping briefly in the duty free to try out some new fragrances. As I type this on the plane I keep getting wafts of the new musky Davidoff scent.
• Eventually the gates opened and we joined the queue to board our plane. I could have skipped this part, but I felt it vital to include what happened next. Mostly so I can out the person for his disgusting manner. While we were waiting, we had the misfortune of standing behind THE MOST obnoxious man I have ever met. This Australian piece of work talked down to the young Thai gentleman who took his ticket in the worst way. He said things like:
“Hello, are you on holiday right now?”
“Do you know how to do your job?”
“Come on, I’m waiting to get on the plane!”
He was a real set of words I can’t write down because my nan reads this. Another employee came over to try and tell the man to stop it, but he continued digging at the young man. Sarah and I did the typical British thing and uttered under our breaths, but I really wish I’d said something. I don’t know how someone can get anywhere in life by going around acting like that. He truly was a disgusting human being in that very moment. When we got on the plane we were just grateful we didn’t have to sit next to him. It was easy to get comfy on the plane for once, and it was a privilege to not have my knees pressing against the chair in front. I spent my time writing what had happened so far in my blog while Sarah, once again, slept.
• Our clocks had to go forward one hour, making the time when we landed 12:45pm. We had arrived safely. After getting off the plane we went through immigration and grabbed our bags. A process which took no longer than 15 minutes. Before we could leave we had to scan our bags once again, and admit we had nothing to declare. We finally got to exchange the last of our Thai and Malaysian currency to Singaporean Dollars, then we located the transit train to the MRT. The pain was having to hold onto the holdalls for a total of 13 stops, it wasn’t until we had only 5 more to go that two seats became available. We had to switch trains a couple times, it was all very straightforward, and after about an hours travel we reached Chinatown.
• We asked a lady in a nearby 7Eleven which way we had to go to find Temple Street, as that’s where our hotel was. It was a pretty good location really. The second we left the MRT it was literally around the corner. We explained to the lady at reception that Sarah’s parents would be arriving in a few hours time, but we’d like to check in ahead of them. We were given two room keys, each room was on opposite sides of the corridor. After dropping off our bags we headed out to find cheaper accommodation for the following three nights. We’d be spending four nights in Singapore in total. The first night would be at “The Inn” with Sarah’s parents, then the following three would be elsewhere. It was too much for a couple backpackers, at £30 a night each, we just couldn’t afford it. Fortunately we didn’t have to look far. Eight buildings down the road was a hostel, and although it cost £16 a night each, it was cheaper than our current place. We had to visit a nearby ATM to pay the deposit, then after paying we went for dinner.
• McDonald’s was the place, it was on the corner at the end of the road, although there were countless places in and around Chinatown to eat if we wanted. To waste some time afterwards we walked around the market stalls. There wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before, the only main difference was the goods on offer were mostly handcrafted, rather than the usual vests and T-shirts. We got slightly bored and instead returned to our hotel room to wait on Sarah’s parents. They arrived ahead of time at 4pm. 40 minutes was all we had to wait before they reached the front doors of the hotel. I grabbed their suitcases and carried them up the five flights of stairs to their room. I think more than anything they were just happy to have landed, and finally have somewhere to offload their luggage. A feeling Sarah and I were all too familiar with by now.
• Sarah ran across the hall to our room to grab the presents she’d bought them. In return we were also given gifts. They were of the edible variety. Sarah received a pack of spearmint polos, while I got a multi bag of “Roysters”. I had one bag immediately and the taste reminded me of home straightaway. We spent some time catching up and asking about their flight, before heading out to look at the local area. We stopped in a nearby bar for a drink. Simon and I had a large bottle of Singha each, this was my first one since Koh Tao, and to be honest it hit me quite quick. It was really nice to sit and chat around the table, just like the times we’d eat dinner at Sarah’s house back home. Although it was a strange feeling to be sat with Sarah’s parents, as to us it felt like no time had passed at all. We’d been in the clouds so long that time no longer served a purpose in our lives. It felt like only yesterday we were saying goodbye to them in London. Now here we were 7 months later conversing around a table in Singapore.
• The bill for the drinks was quite steep. The prices were pretty much the same as England on accounts of the majority of Singapore being Muslim. This means there is high tax on the alcohol because not many locals drink it. I don’t often drink beer, but there was just cause for this afternoons beverage. Sarah and I then acted as tour guides. We walked Ann and Simon to Clarke’s Quay and the waterfront harbour to see the landmarks, such as the Marina Bay Sands hotel, and the Art Science Museum. It wasn’t as impressive as it could’ve been because of the time. It was only 6:30pm, so nothing was lit up yet. As beautiful as the architecture is, it is nothing compared to what it looks like at night. When the lights come on, everything is so much prettier. Seeing as Ann and Simon were feeling a little tired from their flight, we decided not to push it too much. That would do for one day. We then caught the MRT to Little India to find somewhere for tea.
• Sarah and I remembered our way around from last time. She was adamant she was going to show us a vegetarian restaurant she ate at with Jenna and Meg before. In her defence, although there was not meat in the dishes, the food itself was delicious. After paying, we showed the tourists where we stayed before, then caught the MRT back to Chinatown. I took a photo when we arrived of Sarah with her parents, it would be the first of many during their visit. The four of us meandered by each stall before returning to our rooms. When we got in there was a very small incident involving a pair of Simon’s shoes. In all fairness their room did smell a little fausty to begin with, but because Simon left his shoes out in the open it added to the already bad smell. He quickly amended the situation by putting them in a plastic bag, while Sarah, Ann, and I were in the other room discussing plans for the following day. We decided it would be best to visit the zoo and do the night safari. Because it was a week day it would mean there’d be less people. With that settled we went out for an evening drink.
• Simon was the only one to have a beer this time, although in retrospect I wish I’d done the same. Stupidly I ordered a big ice cream milkshake. It was too thick and sweet to finish, so I forced what remained upon Ann and Sarah. Even Sarah with her sweet tooth found it hard going. The drinks were followed by another steep bill, then we called it a night to return to our rooms. The fun and games didn’t stop there though. Ann and Simon’s room still had a certain smell to it, and what was worse, their a/c didn’t work. While they were messing about with that I was in my room trying to Skype my mum. Halfway through the phone call Sarah came in with the bag of clothes I’d requested from mum. Now, throughout the day Ann and Simon had told me my mum gave them a lot of my clothes. I couldn’t figure out what they meant. I’d only asked her to hand over 5 different items for various occasions. When I looked inside the bag I learned there were additional items. Along with what I’d requested was an extra shirt and two pairs of trousers. I wound mum up about it, but felt bad afterwards as she went our of her way to get them. I quickly apologised, then got back to the conversation. After we’d said our goodbyes, Sarah and I switched rooms with her parents. Our a/c was working fine, if anything it was working too well. The room was like an igloo. Sarah’s parent’s room on the other hand was like a smelly hotbox. The manager and maintenance guy tried countless things to make it better for them, but by this point Sarah could see her parents were exhausted. Seeing as we were travelling, and they were on holiday, we switched. Besides, we’d stayed in much worse places than this. It was quite evident by now that the Duxbury’s were very very tired. They ambled across the hallway with pillows in tow and climbed into bed. Sarah and I did the same, and settled down for the night with a couple episodes of “Happy Endings”. It was then there was a knock at the door. The maintenance guy came back with a fan and a dehumidifier. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d fixed the a/c unit. The dehumidifier didn’t even work, so he took that back downstairs, but left us with the fan. By now the smell had dispersed, and the fan did an excellent job alongside the a/c to keep us cool. Somehow I managed to force myself to stay awake long enough to type this blog, but to be honest I am looking forward to the time I don’t have to write this anymore. I am so tired I can’t think straight. The blog has been both a gift and a curse for me, and right now it was the latter.