It all began with a short text message “how would you feel about making a trip to Singapore to see us?” My heart jumped and instantly sank, the text was from my dear friends who live in various different countries and we never get to see each other; however I have my five month old. My first instinct was no there is no way, but then a chat to my husband pushed me towards yes. I have traveled lots with my eldest boy doing multiple international trips in the first 2 years of his life; however I had my best accessory (my husband) on each trip. Nothing like a 2 on 1 scenario to make long haul trips bearable with a little one. This trip I would have to ride solo with my 5 month old, as hubby would have stay home with our 3 year old. This gave me pause, will I be able to handle the flight by myself and how would the little guy go in such different country with a different environment and climate?
I took the leap booked the flights and pushed my worries behind me. When traveling with a little one in the past I found the best way to make an easy trip is to be organized, so I spent the day before the trip organizing my carry on bags with diapers, toys, changes of clothes and of course plenty of zip lock bags. Luckily food was not part of the equations as Eli is currently mostly breastfeeding.
The day of the trip I saddled up for the short flight to Sydney from Canberra and then the 8-hour flight to Singapore. Upon check in I was instantly put at easy from the Qantas attendant as she assured me I have a bassinet seat on the long flight and gave easy instruction on how to make the transfer from the domestic terminal to the international terminal with ease. The security people were great holding Eli while I debaged myself for scanning and even produced a clean change mat to lay him down on while I got myself organized after. Eli slept most of the flight to Sydney which was a relief given it is his first flight.
The help of airport and Qantas staff continued in Sydney and on the long flight. Eli instantly gain a fan club on the plane and many flight attendance would pop by and take him for a walk while I ate, went to the toilet or just take a breather. I can’t thank these people enough as it made what could have been a difficult situation easy and manageable.
Stepping off the plane the heat hit me instantly and put a smile on my face, though the line through immigration took it right off. While queuing Eli yet again gained a fan club with many men and women catching his attention and throwing smiles, funny faces and kisses his way every time he made an upset sound. It was amazing and this would continue the whole trip. Anywhere we were out shopping centers, restaurants or trains the instant he made a semblance of a cry someone would pop out of nowhere to put a smile on his face.
Through immigration and customs I was instantly swept up in the arms of my friends. We were all here together in what felt like ages and we of course picked up like we were never apart. Looking at the taxi line I quickly gave a sigh and my friends said, “because we have a baby we get priority.” Huh? Really? I though and sure enough as we approached the line a nice staff member directed us to the front of the line. Amazing and once more every taxi was a brand new or close to new car all clean and comfortable. Through the whole trip every taxi we jumped in was a Mercedes, BMW or some lovely sedan smelling fresh, air conditioned and looking immaculate, a great change from some of the dodgy taxis I have been in Sydney.
We cruised towards the city through the towering apartment buildings and skyscrapers; this was not what I was expecting at all. Not that I am sure what I was expecting to begin with, but not this metropolis of a city. Pulling up at The Westin the bellboys jumped over themselves to help us out of the car and carry every piece of luggage I had, I bet they would of carried Eli if I would of asked them. The room was lovely and spacious considering there were 3 adults and baby staying in there. The floor to ceiling windows gave the space a real feel of grandeur and a view to die for looking out over the infinity pool, towards the bay and looking at the famous Marine Bay Sands building.
As I unpacked Eli was cuddled by her long lost “aunties” and champagne was popped. I was such a relief to be with my girls again and to know I will enjoy this with them. Eli seemed not to be phased at all by the new surroundings and his aunties nearly eating him alive.
Once settled we headed out to wondering around the city. It was Saturday night and the city was kicking. The taste of Singapore was on and there were food stalls all along the water, outdoor concerts and movies being shown in outdoor theaters. This all while it was humid 31 Celsius. I had Eli strapped to me in his baby carrier in which he promptly passed out. As we wondered up the through the canals of the city in search of a good seafood restaurant he woke and was not happy. We sat down in the outdoor section of a restaurant on the canal and put him in a high chair and he was having none of it, he was a hot and bothered baby. The waitress instantly came over and said it is air conditioned inside and we can easily be moved in there. Yes please I said! Once cool he was happy again and we were all able to enjoy our meal in some peace.
I honestly think the best thing about Singapore is the food. It is a place where you can fine dine and spend a fortune on a meal or you can pop down to the local hawker center or food court and eat your heart out for $10. We chose the later most of the trip, luckily my friends were near experts exploring Singapore, so I was in good hands everywhere we ate. The hawker center near us was the Telok Ayer Market which was this old colonel looking octagoneshaped building chalked full of food stalls. The first morning we headed out to explore and grab breakfast, which can be difficult (travel tip: most things don’t open till 10am on the weekend). While being only 9am quite a few stalls were open and we headed straight for the dumpling stall. We ordered 6 different types of dumplings and steam buns and it was only $16! I nearly fainted it was amazing and the dumplings were some of the best I have ever had.
Later that day we were on the famous Orchid Road with towers and towers of shopping centers, in which house stores such as Baby Armani and Baby Burberry (I just can’t even) and Vercie. Not to mention a baby spa! Down at the bottom levels of these buildings are hustling and bustling food courts with every sort of Asian food you can imagine. After securing a table and high chair, we each took turns going off and coming back with plates to share. I instantly went for the roti. This is an old favorite I had when I lived in Fiji and fell in love with the curry houses in Suva. Watching the guy whipping the dough around smacking it repeatedly and folding in over on its self was mesmerizing. For $3 I got two roti and a bowl of dal (again can’t get over the price)! My friends came back with plates of satay, assorted fried rice and papaya salads, as well as packets of tissues. Looking confused they explained that to reduce waste in the city they don’t give out napkins for free you have to buy them from the pharmacy or a cart lady. I was appalled at first, but then thought fair enough it makes sense and lends itself to why this city is so clean. Much of my food experiences on this trip were like this, wondering a hawker center or food court grabbing a dish of this or that for little to nothing and being instantly satisfied.
As I said before the city is clean and I mean really clean. The shopping centers are bright and immaculate. The bathrooms are clean and fresh smelling and cleverly thought out. The stalls are large and have little shelves to put your handbag or whatever you are carrying. There was even a stall that had a seat to put your in child while you took a pee, genius! Honestly shopping centers and malls of the world take note!
We did the touristy stuff too. There is the amazing area called Gardens by the Bay. This is a garden on steroids, with crazy man made umbrella trees, domes with cloud forests that contain a huge water fall and flower dome that is climate control so they can control the blooms. We went at night and the whole place was lit up in amazing color that drew your eye to things would not of seen during the day. Another day we went to the island of Sentosa, where most of the resorts are and theme parks. This was kind of a bust, because we came to go to the beach and well it more set up for looking at the beach than swimming. Kind of annoying, as you had to pay $5 to get on the island in the first place. However, they have cable cars that you can take to get off the island which while pricey ($33) gave us a great and different view of the city.
Eli did pretty well being dragged around everywhere, but he was really not a fan of the heat. His happy place became the pool at The Westin. It was at the perfect level to look out through the city sky scrappers on to the bay. Eli loved cruising around the pool with me and lounging on the in built recliners in the pool. He is such a water baby and this pool was well suited to him and me.
It has been a long time since I have traveled to some place new and Singapore was just the ticket. It is such a mesh of many Asian cultures; it feels like you get an interesting cross section of Asia. While being hesitant at first about traveling solo with a 5 month old, Singapore was extremely family and kid friendly and people were always willing to help you with anything you need. I feel like my inner travel bug has been satisfied for now and I honestly can’t wait to travel as a whole family in December when we head back to the USA for Christmas. Best of all I got to spend quality time with good friends.