Stopovers. In our experience, they’re generally a waste of time, money, and effort. At various times we have decided to break up a long flight with a stopover in, say, JFK, and I have to say, they never live up to our hopes. Instead of a luxurious sleep in, for instance, before a 17 hour flight to South Africa, we were advised we needed to check out by 10am or pay a late check out fee, which amounted to an entire additional night at the hotel! After an expensive, not great night, we still spent hours sitting at JFK. Not my idea of a great time.
Singapore, however, proved to be a different type of stopover. Twenty eight hours in Singapore related to two nights hotel, due to the odd arrival and departure flight times. The Beach Hotel was sticker shock enough. Having come from quite luxurious $25/night beachfront cottages in Bali, paying over $80/night for what can only be considered a sub-par hotel hurt the pocket book. However, with only one day to accomplish a variety of housekeeping errands such as haircuts and finding a new portable speaker, as well as get a brief glimpse of this very clean city, location was all important!
Checking at around 11pm gave us no idea what type of neighborhood we had landed in, but morning quickly came, and with it, the opportunity to get out and get some things done. We started out with a starbucks before wandering past the famous Raffles hotel. While it was a temping idea to launch a sneak attack and get into the bar area before they realized we were scruffy backpackers, we immediately knew our budget would never survive the cost of a drink, even if we weren’t immediately kicked out. So, a quick photo op and we were off.
We got our errands done; skyping home for Jim while I got my second haircut of the trip. We headed to one of the main shopping streets, overwhelmed quickly by an 8-story mall. For a brief time we were like kids in a candy store, comparing prices on electronics, checking out lovely lotions and potions for me, and people watching, all while surrounded with holiday music and Christmas decorations. We quickly tired of the hustle and bustle, the endless crowds, the stagnant mall air and made our escape.
Late afternoon was upon us and we were starving. After a slurpy lunch of street noodles, Little India seemed like exactly where we wanted to be. Butter chicken, naan, jasmine rice, veggie pakoras. Oh such a delight after a couple of months without.
Evening was rapidly descending upon us and, exhausted from our whirlwind day, we headed back to the not-luxurious Beach hotel for a quick night sleep before our 4am wake up call for the airport. We discovered, of course, as one does in Singapore, that we would have perhaps been better served simply staying at the airport, the most magnificent we have ever experienced. And yet, unlike previous stopovers, having just one day in Singapore was lovely. Enough time to get the feel for our little neighborhood while accomplishing our tasks at hand. Singapore, I’m not sure we’ll ever be back, but thanks for the memories.