Singapore Airport

At 8:00 AM, two days after we had departed Washington DC, we finally arrived in Singapore. With our passports and additional documents in hand, we headed for immigration/customs. They have the newer biometric stations where you scan your passport; the machine takes a picture of you, matches it to your passport, and off you go. It’s a rapid and efficient system we’ve used in other countries; Jim got through without hesitation. I, however, did not. I got to the part where the machine takes your picture, and it was not letting me move forward for some reason. Maybe it was all the food stains on my shirt or how beautiful I looked after being on a plane for two days; who knows? Two officers came over to help, but to no avail; I had to go to the main immigration desk, where an immigration officer thoroughly examined my passport, and my photo and fingerprints were taken.

While researching the Singapore portion of our trip, we noted a very cool water “vortex” feature at the airport that we wanted to see.  It is located in the Jewel section and open to all, not just travelers passing through the airport. Our studies indicated that the feature turned on at 10 AM, so we found a restroom and a coffee shop to kill a little time. 10 AM came and went with no water show. We later discovered they had changed the start time to 11 AM. After being awake for so long, we decided to forgo the show and find the metro station.

View from the airplane window
Water vortex at the Singapore airport
MRT station at the Singapore Airport

Getting Around in Singapore

We purchased a three-day Tourist Pass for public transportation and went to the rail station in the basement of Terminal 1 at the airport. The Singapore airport is about 30 miles outside the city center where our hotel was, so the ride took a little while. We knew we had a 10-minute walk once we left the train station. We didn’t anticipate the pouring rain we found when we got off the train. After discussing our options, we decided to wait a bit to see if the rain would let up; we pulled our raincoats from our suitcases and hung out, hoping the rain would stop. Travel lesson 3: bring an umbrella! The rain eventually slowed down, and we went to the Holiday Inn Express at Clarke Quay.

I Need a Nap!

The hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay, was big for a Holiday Inn Express and the front desk staff were very nice getting us a room even though we arrived a few hours earlier than the check-in time. The room was small, very similar to European hotel rooms, but it looked new and was clean. The breakfast area is large and can accommodate many people; they even have an adjacent outdoor dining space with a bar. In the evening, the bar serves a minimal menu. This is the first Holiday Inn Express that we have been to, with an evening meal service and a bar area. It’s a welcome addition for the weary traveler.

On the hotel’s roof is a lovely green area with plants and walkways. The hotel pool and fitness center are located on the roof. It’s a great place to relax and view the surrounding area, especially at night.

Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay rooftop pool.
Holiday Inn Express Clare Quay rooftop lounger.
Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay rooftop garden.

Hawker Centers

After a short nap, we got up, showered, and headed out for our first “hawker” market.

Awake and refreshed, we walked over to Chinatown and visited the Maxwell Food Center (aka Hawker Center), where we browsed all the dinner food options. There are rows upon rows of family-run small food stalls from which to choose. Jim ended up eating a seasoned tofu dish, and I chose a different stall offering an egg, rice & tomato dish. All of the food was good and extremely reasonably priced.

Hawker food center in Chinatown Singapore.
Chinatown food center in Singapore.
Meal from the Singapre food center in Chinatown.

Chinatown

After we finished dinner, we wandered the streets in Chinatown, checking out stores and restaurants (for future reference). The area was beautiful and clean; there was no litter or graffiti. We did find a beautiful mural down a small ally, which was unexpected. The stores offered everything from souvenirs to everyday goods and some grocery items. The surrounding area and streets boasted decorations for the Chinese New Year; dragons were everywhere.

Street in Chinatown in Singapore.
Mural on building in Chinatwon Singapore.
Dragon on street in Singapore.

Jet lag was catching up with us, so we returned to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.