02 April 2011


Well, we made it. And I finally got a stamp on my passport! I kind of shouted in the airport after clearing the passport checkpoint. Paul shushed me, but I was excited. It took me 28 years to get that stamp. 

We left Salem, Ohio, at 10:30 a.m. local time Wednesday and arrived at the gate at Singapore's Changi Airport at 6:30 a.m. local time Friday. Not counting the flight from Pittsburgh to New York City Wednesday afternoon, we spent 22 hours on a plane - 22 HOURS! And that's no April Fool. 

The flight to Singapore was not nearly as bad as Paul and I expected it to be. Though we packed enough Dramamine and Bendadryl to knock out the entire back section of the plane, we ended up making the trip drug free. Yay us. 

The Singapore Airlines people were always a step ahead of us and frequently attended to the passengers. We never had to look for a flight attendant because five served our section and someone was always around. Pardon me while I brag a little about the services. As a frequent U.S. regional airline traveler, most of this came as a shock to me: Pillows and blankets were on the seats when we arrived. We were served hot towels three times on the flight, three hot meals plus snacks without any charges for food or wine and we were provided Givenchy travel kits with socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Seat-back entertainment options included approximately 120 free TV edpisodes, 30 new movies including all of the movies featured at the Oscars, video games like Mario Brothers, and the flight path so we could see where in the world Carmen Sandiego was. We slept one or two hours at a time a few times on the way and were so ready for a shower by the time we arrived in our temporary housing. Other than swollen feet and toes, we did amazingly well.

When we landed, the sun had not yet risen, so all we could see were lights - lights in the water from all of the boats parked peacefully away from the shore, and lights from the city outlining all of the buildings and major roadways. 

Singapore is a beautiful country. There are lots of trees and vines and green everywhere - and that is just inside the airport common areas. Outside there are palm trees and flowers, and greener grass than I have seen. It's almost like a mix of Orlando and Manhattan if you can imagine it. All of the streets are lined with trees and bushes, even amongst the skyscrapers.

There are lots of cars here; I was surprised. All of the typical brands we see in the U.S. - Lexus, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, Mazda - are present. There are lots of little cars, a few trucks (hauling trucks, not pickup trucks) and a few vans but no SUVs whatsoever. Oh wait, I did see one Porsche SUV. OK so one SUV. When we got into the cab, I was reminded that the drivers were on the right side of the car. We were on a road with five lanes on our side, so I didn't even notice that we were to the left of the opposite traffic until we were closer to the city. I did freak out a couple times because I swore we were turning the wrong way onto a one-way street. Thank God all of the lanes have arrows. Or thank God I'm not driving while we're here. Yeah, we'll go with that one. 

Riding in a taxi in Singapore is just like riding in a taxi in Jersey but without the yelling and the honking. I was sure we were going to hit someone about 10 different times today. 

I don't think it's common practice to tip your driver in Singapore. We seem to make the drivers' day when we tip them. We gave the last guy S$10 on a S$7 cab ride and he seemed to bow to us as we were walking away. It was as if we had handed over a million dollars or paid all of his medical bills or something.

Paul and I explored a little bit of Orchard Road today, a mass transit connection boasting many shops, restaurants, and high-end housing. For our first meal in Singapore, we went to a place called the Hot Tomato. Paul chose the chicken parmesan over french fries. Ha. I had some dory fish that was fried and the batter tasted like that of the sweet and sour chicken offered back home. Our first meal today was dinner because we accidentally took a five-hour nap this morning and slept clear through the afternoon. Oops. Luckily, I am so exhausted that I am falling sleep while crafting this post, so I don't think I will have any trouble sleeping tonight. 

Tomorrow we will be venturing out into suburbia to check our a few potential neighborhoods northwest of the city. There is much more to write about, but I'll have to get to that tomorrow. Let's just say I had that OMG moment this morning. 

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