21.11.2013 - 23.11.2013
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Landing late at an aggressively festive Changi Airport we took the light rail in to the centre and promptly passed out, exhausted from a day of plane travel. In the morning we had a wander around the pristine Chinatown area before meeting my old school friend Nick for lunch at a local food court. He and his fiancée have been in Singapore for a year and so we demanded he tell us what to do with our time. On his suggestion we walked over to the shiny Marina Bay area, built on reclaimed land in the harbour and the epitome of sterile Singapore. It stars a hotel that has three towers connected by what looks like a boat perched atop them.
The Gardens by the Bay are new and beautifully set out botanical gardens behind the marina. There are two bio-domes, Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, as well as man-made Super Trees. On walking to the meadow we were faced with an enormous floating baby, created by British sculptor Marc Quinn (famous for freezing his own blood in the shape of his head and putting Alison Lapper on top of the Fourth Plinth).
The day of our departure we ticked a tourist box and visited Raffles Hotel, every bit as colonial as I'd hoped. Having decided to treat ourselves on our last day in Asia we headed to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for a very grand and chocolatey afternoon tea, complete with my first cup of Earl Grey since leaving Blighty. We walked back along the picturesque Boat Quay.
Then it was time to bid farewell to Josh, who was heading back to Manchester and life as an SHO. I'm most grateful to him, both for planning a fabulous itinerary and for putting up with my difficulty relinquishing control, honed by months of lone travel. Meanwhile, I was heading to the Southern Hemisphere and New Zealand, one of the major components of my ever-confusing ethnic make-up.