Following an excruciatingly long year, my family and I decided to embark on a brief trip to Singapore. The city state is a travel destination that only seems to be getting increasingly popular with Indian travellers.
We’d scheduled our trip for January 2019. It was a getaway that had been in the works for almost a year. What encouraged us more to decide on Singapore was the rave reviews we’d received from numerous friends and family members who’d previously made the trip. And often, they spoke at length about their experiences there.
Stalking can be a boon too
We were exhilarated about the then impending trip. I, for one, am an avid travel enthusiast. My ideal life would certainly be one which involves always being on the move. However, I like knowing well in advance, about the place I am heading to. This thought perhaps stems from my fear of oblivion.
With ample time at hand, I researched all I could about Singapore. I browsed through their tourist attractions, common rules and regulations, and about their culture. I was immersed in travel guide books, followed online blogs, travel pages and watched videos aplenty.
In the course of my research, I found that buying or selling chewing gum was illicit in Singapore. Although my parents wondered why I wanted to know it all, I believed they should be grateful because what if, hypothetically, we ended up in jail for buying chewing gum. That would then be a trip we would remember for the rest of our lives.
Singapore, the land of flowers
Prior to departing for Singapore, we first travelled to Bangalore. We stayed there for only a day, meeting relatives and friends. Early next morning, we eagerly boarded our flight, thus beginning a most memorable trip.
When we landed at Singapore’s Changi Airport, we were witness to an enormous, yet majestic airport. What caught my attention was the plethora of retail stores – including spas, a theatre and even a botanical garden.
We were driven to our hotel by our travel agents. I quickly realised that this was quite an extraordinary drive; the streets were spotless, there were skyscrapers on either side and it all seemed very orderly. The road divider had colourful flowers in full bloom. The city looked even more spectacular with the evening lights and Singapore screamed splendour!
Our hotel was called the Park Royal Kitchener and was located in mini-India. The area felt close to home with its Indian restaurants and bright colours.
Excited as we were, we quickly freshened up and headed out towards Clarke Quay. It is a historic riverside quay, located within the Singapore river planning area. The area was home to numerous cafeterias and restaurants. Following a delicious wood fired pizza dinner, we decided to try some Turkish ice-cream. The server’s antics were a delight to watch and I was pretty amused to say the least.
As we headed back to our hotel, my brother and I were especially looking forward to the following day. We were going to be visiting Universal Studios.
Sentosa was much too inviting
The drive to Sentosa was nothing short of a fairy tale. It was as if Singapore glistened with a marvellous light, seeming almost ethereal with its ever so beautiful flowers adorning its road dividers.
We were greeted with long queues at the entrance to Universal Studios. Of course, the wait offered perfect opportunity to snap a couple of pictures with the famous Universal logo, after which we headed to the rides.
The park was divided into five sections — the Lost World, Ancient Egypt, Sci-fi city, New York, Hollywood, Madagascar, and Far Far away. We hopped onto as many rides as we could. Among them, my favourites were the Jurassic Park Rapids adventure, Revenge of the Mummy, and the Transformers one, to name a few.
We were also audience to a pirate show, a Marylin Monroe one, as also a Steven Spielberg highlight. We met characters such as the muppets, characters from Madagascar, minions, transformers and Pinocchio. After what was a most eventful day, we reluctantly headed out. There was a slight drizzle that threw up the sweet scent of petrichor. Being the pluviophile I am, this was just the shot in the arm to raise my spirits.
The following morning , we headed to Sentosa island yet again. This time round, we began with a cable car ride that allowed us to gaze at the island’s lush greenery. We then took a ride on a luge – a little self-driving vehicle. The rider can control its speed by pushing a handle back and forth.
It was then onward to the aquarium and the wax museum. As if to top of the day with the icing on the cake, we watched a spectacular light show. It wove a story around the destruction caused to nature with the exceeding levels of industrialisation worldwide.
The day long outings were yet to tire us out. Up next was a tour of the Singapore zoo and the Jurong bird park. Besides numerous species, the highlight for me were the penguins – a species that otherwise call the Arctic home.
Voyagers of the sea
In addition to our exploration of Singapore, our itinerary also included a brief cruise. We were going to sail aboard the Voyagers of the Sea – a mega ocean liner run by Royal Caribbean Cruises.
The ocean liner would travel between Singapore and Malaysia for three days. Our cabin on board, although small, was extremely comfortable. It even boasted a balcony that extended us an uninterrupted view of the open seas.
The ship really was reminiscent of a floating town. There were activities galore for all age groups. There were casinos and discotheques for adults, while teens and younger members of families had access to a game arcade. Belonging as I did to this this latter category, I had a wonderful time.
The younger folk enjoyed access to an entire room. It had a gigantic TV, it was lit up with colourful led lights, had capsule beds, and seemed a place where the young would spend a lot of time in. Besides the digital engagement, there were also fun activities like scavenger hunts, movies, parties and so on.
What also caught my attention was the library. It shelves were lined with an impressive collection of books. Unfortunately however, I was unable to partake of any. I spent the bulk of time visiting a few of the fancy restaurants on board, watching shows, and shopping with my parents.
At the conclusion of our cruise, we stayed at the luxurious Marina Bay Sands Hotel. This magnificent edifice is well renowned for its unique structure – one that is innate to Singapore’s current skyline. The hotel comprises three standalone buildings that are connected by an infinity pool.
Another highlight within the hotel is a replica of Venice waterways. The entire place seemed to be designed with the intent to leave its visitors awestruck.
“Travel ennobles the spirit…”
It was soon our final day in Singapore. Much as we’d visited the many attractions, we were quite literally still under the spell of missing out, or what is more popularly referred to as FOMO – fear of missing out.
Our flight back to India was scheduled for around 4 pm. We, therefore, decided to visit Merlion Park prior to leaving for the airport.
As we flew along the stratosphere later that evening, an Oscar Wilde quote came to mind. He said, “Travel ennobles the spirit and does away with our prejudices.” Travel sure does help bring a certain freshness to life – a new sense of tranquility. It heightens our spirits and gives us new perspectives. It is important, therefore, to pack our bags and fly away—to someplace new—every once in a while.