Wednesday, January 12, 2005:

We woke up early to pack and eat breakfast one last time. After breakfast we finished packing, bought some post cards for our parents, then headed off to the airport. The drive was about an hour, and we had some other people on the bus with us. There was no talking, even from the driver, so we just looked out the window and admired the countryside. Everything is so green here.

At the airport, which is one of the nicest we've ever been in, by the way, we found out our departure was delayed by an hour. To kill some time, we tried to find out how to spend the last of our Malaysian ringgits. At a bookstore Justin found a book on the local flora that was in English, so he bought that. The rest of the ringgits were spent at a café near the gate. It was the only food near the gates, so everyone who was hungry ate there. No joke, the only people there besides us were the Malaysian soccer team and the French marines. And no, we didn't recognize they were French by their white surrender flags – they had a French emblem on their left sleeves.

The flight to Singapore was pretty uneventful. Crystal slept all of the way there. The airport in Singapore might be even nicer than the one in KL. There are orchids everywhere, and yes, it is very clean. Our transportation worked out much better this time, and someone was there to pick us up after we cleared customs. We then went straight to the hotel. The roads in Singapore are much better laid out than in KL – in KL the roads were fine, but none of them seemed to be very straight, and so we were always veering off from one road to another to go in a “straight” line.

We got to the hotel – we stayed in the Tower Wing (room 1514) – and unpacked, then got some drinks from the lobby lounge. The drinks were about $10 US, which seemed exorbitant until we realized it was like this everywhere in Singapore. We were also amazed by the outfits of the waitresses – for a conservative country, the outfits were the complete opposite, having long slits on both sides that went to within a couple inches of the hip bone. After our drinks we went on a tour of the grounds. The Shangri-La is regarded as the “other” botanic garden in Singapore. The grounds are very large, well-laid out and extremely well manicured. The open areas and occasional mass plantings reminded us of how the hotels are laid out in Wailea on Maui. The gardens at the hotel had some nice water features and some very nice clumping palm trees.

We ate dinner at the Equinox restaurant, which is on the 70th floor of the Swissotel Stamford. The Swissotel is in the Marina district, right near the Mandarin Oriental, where we'll be staying when we come back to Singapore after the weekend in Bintan. We could see a large portion of downtown Singapore (the Merlion, many of the Quays, the Queen's Walk, and the skyline), Sentosa Island, and many Indonesian islands (maybe Batam and Bintan?) as well. We came back to the hotel and crashed.



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