Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Singapore & Malaysia 2017

Return to Singapore

It proved to be an earlier start than anticipated: with the alarm set for 0600, Bruce informed me at 0515 that we had no water. A maintenance man visited and confirmed that there was a problem affecting all of the hill villas. Fortunately, the hotel arranged for us to have access to a room in a different (but nearby) section, so that we could get a shower prior to leaving. With all this accomplished, we went for a quick breakfast around 8 o'clock and comfortably caught our speedboat transfer to the mainland at 0845.

A van was waiting at the other side to take us on the 90-minute drive to Ipoh Airport. This turned out to be a small but modern regional terminal with limited facilities. Following check-in, we split a somewhat weird hot dog where the bun was a type of croissant.

In due course we went airside and were pleased to see our aircraft arriving early. We were somewhat less pleased to observe the extent of the cluelessness that was evident among waiting passengers, which suggested that most of them had probably never flown before. Our Tiger Airways flight to Singapore could so easily have turned into another "flying nursery", but in fact turned out to be a perfectly pleasant experience, thanks to a couple of factors. First, seat 1E was empty, so that with Bruce in 1D and me in 1F, it turned into a kind of do-it-yourself European business class. Furthermore, 2D/E/F were all unallocated and remained empty, thereby creating a little buffer zone between us and ... <cough> ... the masses.   A third factor was that we bought some white wine and Pringles from the buy-on-board service, which went down very nicely even if the quality wasn't the greatest. As noted on the 'Flights' page, this was my first and last experience of Tiger: a few months later, the carrier was merged into Singapore Airlines' other low-cost subsidiary, Scoot.

We were feeling good following a nice flight and a timely arrival at SIN. Little did we realise that awaiting us was the worst immigration experience ever at Changi, in our combined or individual travel histories. We had both been faced with lengthy queues before, but these had always moved well. Today, it took over an hour to reach the immigration officer - just appalling, and a black mark for what is probably my favourite airport anywhere in the world. Never again will I be able to describe Changi with the phrase "it just works".

We took an 'Uber' to Bruce's old favourite, the Marriott Tang Plaza on Orchard Road. I also had good memories of this property from our joint Singapore & Malaysia trip in 2014. Our car was again spotless, but on this occasion the driver took an unusual and somewhat circuitous route. We decided to give him the benefit of the doubt as (a) the journey wasn't any dearer than expected, and (b) he may have been trying to avoid the worst of the rush-hour traffic.

RIGHT: Settling into the Marriott Tang Plaza, in a prime Orchard Road location 

After settling into our attractive but fairly compact room, and then making a quick visit to the pool, we made our way to the newly refurbished and expanded executive lounge at 5:40pm - ten minutes into a four-hour (!) 'happy hour'. We each enjoyed a couple of drinks: first a dry martini and then a glass of wine. We weren't sure about some aspects of the re-design - especially the number of TVs, which included one particularly huge example - but the bar and food offerings were undoubtedly impressive.

Following a positive experience in November 2014, we visited the hugely impressive Food Opera @ ION Orchard to enjoy some superbly executed hawker-style street food in comfortable surroundings. The place was enormously popular; it almost seemed as though the entire city was eating out here. According to The Food Republic Times, this venue unites "the best of local street food ... [in] ... the foodie heaven that is Food Opera". And we were not disappointed: this proved to be a fabulous experience with which to end the day, and mark our return to one of our favourite cities.


Friday 17 Mar

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