We are off again! Our lovely house sitters have moved in, and we are so excited to be exploring and adventuring again. The motivation for the trip was 3 fold. Firstly a planned meetup with our American cousins in Washington, secondly a desire to visit some more countries on our must see list, and thirdly, the creeping realisation that travelling for long periods as you get older becomes trickier and more expensive due to insurance costs. And we never know what is lurking around the corner! So, carpe diem, we merged it all together and here we are!
The wonderful Ruth Koessel from Travel Nation worked her magic again, and found a Round the World Business Class ticket which gave us access to the countries we wanted at a very reasonable price, and all the long haul sectors are in lie flat beds. Heaven. The main carrier was Lufthansa, and so our trip started on a very chilly January day with a National Express coach to London Heathrow, ready for our flight to Singapore via Frankfurt. The additional benefit of Business Class travel is access to the airport lounge, and free food and drink. Which we made the most of!
The flight to Singapore was on a Jumbo Jet 747. Very comfortable seat/bed, super food and great service. Highly recommended. We landed in Singapore in a rain storm at 6.15pm, and had to be back at the airport by 11.00am the next morning. Although we had both visited before, we managed to fit plenty in. We stayed at the Quay hotel in the city centre. Their rooms have no windows which is great when you are trying to combat an 8 hour time difference. We tried our Grab Taxis app (Asia's Uber) and it was brilliant. Speedy, a good price and very polite and helpful drivers.
After check in we headed for the Gardens in the Bay and caught the light show before visiting the flower dome, and then walking around to the Marina Bay Sands event space where a second free Sound and light show was played at 9pm. We walked back to the hotel along the vibrant quayside, and after very chilly England, 29°C and 90% humidity was like walking through a wall of treacle (I imagine).
There are interesting sculptures everywhere including this Salvador Dali.
We were tired, so headed to bed, despite it being lunchtime on our UK clock. Chris adapted instantly, fell asleep and slept almost continuously until 7.00am! I thought I was shattered, but then didn't get to sleep until 5.30am!! Still, travel is worth the jet lag! Up 2 hours later on Saturday morning for a quick walk to Chinatown, where the excellent heritage plaques paint a vivid picture of exploited Chinese immigrants enduring hard labour and squalid living conditions in a culture of opium dens and squalid brothels, but who managed to progress into the vibrant community it is today.
We visited the Hindu temple, Sri Mariamman, built in 1827, with its stunning decorative gate tower added in the 1930s.
The very ornate and modern (2007) Chinese Buddhist temple of the tooth had a service in progress, and we stopped to listen to the beautiful chanting. We couldn't visit the Buddha tooth relic, which apparently is housed in a giant stupa weighing a whopping 3,500 kilograms and made from 320 kilograms of gold, of which 234 kilograms were donated by devotees! There is some super wall art in the streets as well.
The market's were opening, and everywhere people were starting to decorate buildings and streets in preparation for the huge Chinese New Year celebrations in early February. A little girl very excitedly told me that it will be Year of the Dragon.
Time to leave this very clean, organised and safe city, with its very polite drivers! We don't think the next few weeks will be quite the same! So back to Changi airport for our flight to our next destination, a new country for both of us, and my 77th!