Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Singapore, Singapore

Map picture

Christmas Is Alive and Well – In Singapore

Our trip over to Singapore was a snap – it only took 33 hours in total from our house to our hotel, but the good news is that our flight was the quickest ever made by the airlines, only 17 ½ hours long.

We first flew to Los Angeles, where our friends Chis and LaVerne Kilgore showed us a lovely time. They we anxious to share some of that famous California sunshine and ocean vistas, but as you can already guess, it was rainy and foggy – so much for the land of perpetual milk and honey! Still we had a wonderful visit that helped pass the time until our non-stop flight to Singapore departed at 8pm.

Our aircraft was all business class, and believe it or not had been decorated for Christmas. In all my travels I do not recall ever seeing an airplane decorated for anything. The service was outstanding as was the food. Our seats actually made into beds complete with three pillows and a nice blanket. Our seats had all types of power connectors, including an outlet for 110v. With so much space and power to boot, I actually unpacked my breathing machine for my sleep apnea and had a wonderful night’s sleep. Sometime around 2 in the morning I got up to use the facility and the plane was completely dark. Not a single passenger was reading or watching TV, and I do not believe I have ever seen that before – usually at least someone is up and working.

We arrived in Singapore at 6am in the morning, and our hotel arranged to have us met as we exited the aircraft and whisked to a private VIP lounge where we could freshen up as our hostess dealt with the nasty details of immigration. In rather short order, we were escorted to our limo into which our bags had already been deposited and driven to our hotel, the Ritz Carlton. Now that is a first class entrance in any language.

Dealing with an almost 12 hour time change, needless to say we spent most of our first day here sleeping and trying to adjust. The next day we intended to take a quick refresher tour of the city, however I discovered that my laptop computer appeared to have bitten the dust. What a mess! But, Singapore is where several years ago I managed to find a camera after mine broke, and so it was that with a quick phone call and a short walk, I became the proud owner of a new Sony laptop. So rather than touring the city I spent all of yesterday getting the new machine up to speed since the hotel offered free high speed internet.

Singapore is a fascinating City/State that lies just north of the Equator at the tip of the Malaysian Peninsula. At one point, it was occupied by the British and then it was part of the Malaysian Federation. However, in 1965, it went its own way, and today this tiny city which is just three times the size of Washington, DC is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. It boasts one of the world’s busiest shipping ports and a per capita GDP that rivals that of leading nations of Western Europe. Here Christmas is alive and well. The entire city is decorated and the Christmas spirit is everywhere – no “happy holiday” here. We walked through an adjacent shopping mall yesterday, and I can tell you that high priced items were flying out the door. Another curiosity is that everyone, and I mean almost everyone, carries an iPhone.

A couple of other things caught my eye. While touring the Mall I noted that the North Face store was doing a booming business in heavy winter clothing. Why, I wondered, you can’t go skiing around here. Then some things fell into place during dinner last evening when the relatively young restaurant manager came over to visit and we ended up in a long conversation. We got to discuss his 9 year old son, and it turns out that his son and wife had recently been skiing in Korea, spent a week in Osaka, and vacationed in Kula Lumpur and sunned on the island of Bali. As we were speaking, his wife and boy had just left Dubai on their way to New York, and from there to visit an Aunt in Philadelphia. They were also planning on taking him to Washington to see the Smithsonian. The more we spoke I realized that the citizens of this small City/State see themselves as citizens of Southeast Asia and indeed the world. I gathered that the experiences of his family were not all that different from other families here in Singapore. The world is indeed shrinking. Imagine at 9 years of age having travelled that much of the world.

Since we did not do a formal tour of the city, I really have no pictures to post, but perhaps when I finish this, I can get a good picture of the city from our room to put on our blog.


In a few hours, we will board our home for the next month, the Ocean Princess. Our first stop on this cruise will not be until the day after Christmas in Manila in the Philippines, which will be the first time either of us has visited that island Nation.

We hope that everyone has a very Merry Christmas.

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