Simon and Garfunkel once sang about “sitting in a railway station, got a ticket for my destination.” Some fifty years on, we are sitting at an airport hotel contemplating our journey home which starts on Thursday and reflecting on a wonderful 10 weeks away.
Our dive up from Warrnambool was very easy. The satnav took us on what the Aussies call country road, which we in the UK would call an “A” road. Once we were away from the main civic centres it was arrow straight for miles and miles with only the odd village slowing our progress. The traffic only started to pick up around Geelong, by which time we had been travelling for about two and a half hours with barely a sighting of a another car or truck. If only the A17 was as easy!
We made our hotel in good time and after bag drop off said goodbye to the Toyota Camry as we left it at the Avis return depot. Once again the feeling of space here was brought home. The roads around the airport are wide, spacious and although the signposting could be better it was relatively easy to drive in and out.
Our Singapore Airlines flight to Singapore departed on time! No tech delay this time but 6hrs 40mins later we landed in Singapore. One sour note that Singapore authorities must get a grip of, we waited nearly an hour to clear immigration, by which time, all bags had been unloaded and those left were standing by the carousel.
A taxi met us and took us to our night stop at the Marina Mandarin Hotel, in the bay area of Singapore city. Wow, what a place. Our view from the fourteenth floor towards the city is stunning. The hotel is built on top of a enormous Shopping Mall, so reception is on floor 4. Also all the rooms up to and including the 21st floor are accessed by a sort of corridor balcony that overlooks reception from all angles. This means that all rooms face outwards and have stunning views of part of the city.
Clockwise from top left: View from our room by night; Inside the Hotel; View from 14th floor to reception; View from our room by day.
We have one day to see as much of the rest of Singapore that we missed in January which is mainly the Marina Bay area. Inevitably though no city visit would be complete for Lyn without a visit to a library, in this case, the National Library of Singapore, which has an exhibition by a Chinese artist, Tan Swie Hian called Anatomy of a Free Mind. Some of the exhibits are featured below. Lyn was very taken with his work, he being an artist from a different culture to our European mindset. Some of his work was interesting, others I did not understand what he was getting at! (but then that’s my philistine nature coming out again!)
Clockwise from top: Pictures from the exhibition: Bottom left: Artist Tan Swie Hian
One of the most famous hotels in the world, and home to the Singapore Sling, is Raffles Hotel. Built in the 1830’s it is named after the founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. Over time it has been a privately owned beach house, a boarding house and is now one of the exclusive and famous hotels in the world. We, dressed casually in walking gear (shorts, T shirt, walking shoes) tried to get in for a look around but the doorman smiled kindly at us, politely but ever so slightly shook his head as if to say, ” you ain’t coming into my hotel dressed like that!” We took the hint so lowered the tone of the place by loitering outside taking pictures of the front, and of the magnificently dressed concierge.
Pictures from Raffles Hotel.
The rest of our last day we spent walking around the Marina Bay area, admiring some of the architectural creations that pass for buildings in this place. There are two highlights in the bay, the Art/Science Museum which is shaped like a lily, and the magnificent Marina Bay Sands Hotel, three individual buildings joined at the top by a roof top observation platform and sky garden. You can go to the top……..for a fee. We did not.
Scenes from Marina Bay area: From top left: Helix Bridge; Art/Science Museum; Us and two other shots of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which overlooks the F1 GP circuit.
As I sit in our hotel room writing this last entry about our trip we can reflect on where we have been and what we have seen. It is impossible to give an impression on the vastness that is Australia except to say that when we left Melbourne on Thursday, after over three hours flying we finally crossed the north coast of Oz. That is the equivalent of flying to Kefalonia in Greece or Sicily. As for the cities, they are all world famous and iconic in their own way but I think they can be summarised as follows: Cairns is about nature and the Great Barrier Reef, – If that dies then Cairns will struggle; Brisbane we could move to and settle in, Sydney for sightseeing and then escaping, Canberra for culture and politics, and Melbourne to explore, revel in, and embrace diversity. We enjoyed getting out and about and meeting the locals who, and I have said it before, are very open, friendly and helpful. Will we go again. Yes, but we need to let the sand and dust settle first, it is a very very long way!
Thank you all for taking the trouble to read these blogs, we hope you have enjoyed them.
Dave and Lyn.