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Saturday 4 May 2013
Singapore, Singapore

Together again!

Where has the time gone!? It seems only a couple of weeks ago that Ailsa and I were saying goodbye in Singapore, before she flew home and I flew on to Auckland.  Suddenly it is three months later and here I am, back in Singapore, waiting for her to arrive from London for our next adventure.

Having spent a great many nights in the Holiday Inn at Oxford and around the UK, I built up a very healthy loyalty points balance, all courtesy of work.  In the past they have bought me a few days in Hong Kong, a week in Dubai, nights in Edinburgh, London, Auckland and Singapore at a range of nice hotels. For what will probably be the last time, I used my points to get us a room at the Changi Airport Crowne Plaza.  Crowne Plaza hotels are generally a bit more business focussed, but no less luxurious for that, and the one at Changi is a very nice place to spend time.  Despite being in the airport, it is a very modern building with huge open air spaces, a fabulous swimming pool and several good restaurants.  As usual, my Platinum Membership secured us an upgrade on the room and I found myself in an enormous suite - the footprint was easily the size of my Abingon flat!  I enjoyed the first night there by myself and sent Ailsa e-mails telling her to hurry up and get on the plane.  I got some takeaway food from the airport and ate in my room and had a long soak in the bath, watching 'Castaway' to remind myself of Fiji.  

At 9.15am, I headed down towards arrivals in plenty of time - Ailsa wasn't due to land until 9.30am and would have to go through immigration and baggage collection too.  I glanced at the board and got a bit of a shock to see her plane had arrived at 9am instead.  So my plan of meeting her at arrivals with a big grin and a hug turned into me hurrying along looking for the right place and Ailsa seeing me first as she followed signs for the hotel. She'd sailed through in barely 20 minutes.  It was so good to see my friend again after travelling by myself for a few months, but as always with good friends, it felt like we'd seen each other only the day before.

After eagerly exploring the hotel and our suite (cue: girlie giggles and exclamations, stopping just short of bouncing on the bed), we caught up and exhanged presents (gifts from New Zealand from me and practicalities such as shampoo bar and contact lenses from Ailsa).  On our first trip to Singapore in 2009, we had followed a recommendation from Ailsa's boss and had a seafood feast at the East Coast Seafood Centre, halfway between the airport and the city.  We decided to do the same again and managed to find the same restaurant, Long Beach, and even decided on the same menu as before.  Razor clams, garlic prawns, black pepper crab and greens in oyster sauce.  It was just as delicious as we remembered and we were equally incapable of getting the crab meat out of the shell without assistance from the waitresses!  

Back at the hotel, we caught the last of the sun on the pool.  The swimming pool is unusual in that half the pool is divided up by a grid of raised plant beds and palm trees, making it possible to swim in and out of the foliage along mini canals.  On three sides the pool area is enclosed by the hotel, but the roof is fully open to the sky.  On the fourth side, the whole building is contained in a huge metal mesh-like facade, the shapes in the mesh designed to look like flowers.  The centre is cut out in an enormous oval opening, so from the pool you can look out through the central part of the oval and watch planes taking off and landing.  It felt more like a tropical oasis than an airport hotel!  

We had dinner at the food court in the airport basement - a great discovery, which will come in handy on future trips to Singapore - and chatted away until Ailsa's jetlag finally got the better of her.  

Tomorrow: Indonesia! A new country for both of us, and hopefully a better organised Intrepid trip than the last one...


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