Well, after numerous starts and stops, Philippine Air finally got their "stuff" together and got us to Singapore early this morning, as in almost 2AM. Total travel time, so far, is 24 hours, with 20 of those hours on the most uncomfortable seats we've had in awhile.
We checked into our room at the beautiful Mandarin Orchard hotel, centrally located in downtown Singapore surrounded by ALL the very expensive stores. Our guide said that the area we are staying in is compared to Times Square, New York. She also mentioned that Singapore has four seasons: hot, hotter, wet and wetter. Along with the wet comes the 90% humidity just for chuckles. Later that morning we had an excellent buffet breakfast. We actually had two restaurants to choose from so we planned to try the second one the next day. While we were enjoying the breakfast buffet this morning, we got to watch tons of rain come down on the streets. One local we talked to predicted that the rain would stop at 11AM and she was right on target. But, the stopping rain didn’t help the humidity or it DID help the humidity depending on which side of the fence you’re on. Since our hotel is smack in the middle of the whole shopping district we decided to do a “walkabout” to see what we could see. As it turned out, most of the stores within walking distance were the “upper class” type, (Coach, Louis V, Rolex, etc.) which does not attract me. I was looking for a Walmart, Target, K-Mart or (REALLY reaching) a Dollar Tree type store just to pick up some inexpensive items. Found a huge Japanese store with a “bargain basement”. Bought a few items we needed, but the one thing I really needed no one seemed to have. Oh well, it’s only a two week trip. We returned to the hotel fairly early and were supposed to meet up with some of the other travelers for a trip to Chinatown and a Chinese dinner. I didn’t get much sleep the night before and still had the weight of my huge breakfast, so I opted to sleep for 12 hours. My body really needed that. Besides, we’re scheduled for a tour of Singapore when we return from the cruise so I figured we’ll see all that we really need to see then. Sleep was much higher on my agenda.
The next morning we did try out the second restaurant and it was just as good as the first. We then checked out of the hotel and delivered our bags to the “big room” where our tour guides were organizing the bags' transportation to the ship. In the meantime, they had scheduled a short trip for us to visit Sentosa Island. During WWII Singapore was a major military area, but this island was not inhabited and no one seemed to have any interest in doing anything with it then or later until a new government took over in 1969 and decided that this island would be a great tourist attraction. It now has the standard and expensive shops and fast food places along with educational stops, but the big draw is the casino. The casino is owned by the same folks who owned the Sands in Las Vegas. Tourists flashing their passport get in free where the locals have to pay $100. I wasn’t interested so I just walked around and ended up sitting in the middle of the mall people-watching. We rode the Sentosa Monorail and visited the Sentosa Merlion. The Merlion is a 120 foot tall “half lion half fish” and the purported guardian of prosperity which personifies Singapore’s history as a port city.