Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Singapore & Malaysia 2017

Staggered arrival

I woke up with a jolt as the alarm function on my iPhone carried out its previously instructed duty. As I came around, I experienced that uncomfortable feeling of partial disorientation so often induced by daytime napping, even when this is not further complicated by recent intercontinental travel. I instantly knew where I was - the panoramic windows at the foot of the bed screamed SINGAPORE! - but was temporarily at a loss as to why I was rousing myself from a sleep at 12:30 in the afternoon.

Two days previously, my journey to Southeast Asia had got off to an unconventional start with a hub-and-spoke positioning move on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines from Scotland's capital to Norway's, via the airline's home base at Amsterdam Schiphol. After spending the first night of the trip at the Radisson Blu hotel at Oslo's Gardermoen Airport, my long-haul journey then began in earnest on Thursday morning by following the same hub-and-spoke concept, but on a different airline and this time on a global scale. Qatar Airways took me first to its home city of Doha and then onwards to Singapore, using state-of-the-art equipment in the shape of a Boeing 787 'Dreamliner' and an even newer Airbus A350. And all of that happened as a result of a 'flash sale' staged by Qatar the previous May. The booking had been made by Bruce, acting as my agent, in the British Airways lounge at Valencia Airport, as we passed through on our way home from Mediterranean Magic 2016.

The Conrad Centennial, first of three Singapore hotels on this trip, all of which I knew  (from previous experience) to be excellent

On arrival at Changi I had sailed through immigration and caught the MRT to Promenade, then was fortunate enough to be given access to my room at the Conrad at 10:30 in the morning. After briefly settling in, I decided that I would benefit from a short nap before hitting the streets. I set an alarm on my phone in order to ensure that I wouldn't overdo it and thereby risk turning the entire day into a write-off.

More fully awake now, and having succeeded in dispelling the feelings of disorientation, I set off shortly after 1pm. Following a brief visit to a nearby Starbucks for the purpose of recharging my batteries, I proceeded on foot towards my only major objective for the afternoon: Singapore's National Gallery, opened in 2015. My route took me past the new JW Marriott hotel, the memorial of the Japanese occupation, St Andrew's Cathedral and the Padang, a large, open playing field incorporating the well known cricket ground of the same name.

Singapore's National Gallery is a recent addition to the city-state's cultural scene, resulting from the redevelopment and linkage of the former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings. I noted that the development was in progress during my 2012 visit, but my next visit in 2014 was too soon to see the finished article. On arrival, I quickly formed the opinion that the result of all the work was a triumph. The facility was free to residents, but I had to pay for my foreigner's ticket to the standard, permanent exhibition.

All in all, I really enjoyed my visit, which had been nearly five years in the making, counting from the time when I first spotted the construction work in progress. Afterwards, I felt that it was too soon to be heading back to base, so I continued my walk through an unusually quiet Boat Quay district and across the Fullerton Bridge into the main downtown area.

Finding myself at one of the entrances to the Downtown MRT station, I decided to take the easy option for my return to the Conrad. I received a number of messages from Bruce, who had recovered from previous delays and was on course for arrival around 7pm. And so it turned out. After allowing him a chance to settle in, we visited the Executive Lounge, had a carbs-free dinner at a local Japanese restaurant and followed this up with cocktails and snacks in the hotel's lobby bar. It proved to be a very enjoyable way of catching up with each other's news.

It was soon time for bed, and a chance to recover from our respective long journeys and prepare for the following day's relocation to Kuala Lumpur. We would have a further opportunity to rekindle our shared fondness for Singapore later in the trip.


Friday 10 Mar

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