We are home from our SE Asia trip. The jetlag is real, but running this business never stops and we are happy to be working through it. With a Memphis road trip also about to commence as I help to move our son to Tennessee to begin his real life, I am thankful for my laptop lifestyle and the ability to work from anywhere. Indeed apart from some dreadful wifi while sailing on the Rhine a few years ago, it's been a pretty seamless experience thus far and even China, thanks to a heavy security VPN, did not stop us from keeping J5Travel running (fairly) smoothly.
This weeks highlights revolve around Singapore, for many reasons in my eyes, the best gateway in or out of SE Asia and always worth a 2 or 3 day stay. In fact I could spend that amount of time just at the airport...
Top 5 Highlights, Koh Samui to Home
1. Andaz SIngapore
Possibly our personal favorite luxury hotel brand and Andaz Singapore (below) has that laid back and understated luxury we love, but still has cutting edge technology and superior service.
Located on the top 15 floors, it also has one of the best rooftop bars in the city where the dramatic, modern skyscape of this city can be viewed in detail (above).
Other special features are the 25th floor infinity pool and almost a whole floor dedicated to a "restaurant street food" experience with several eateries competing for attention.
2. Tekka Market (above)
Tekka Market in Little India is where you come to see the multi-cultural hub that Singapore is, in action. You will hear several languages including English, Hokkien, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. Each of the ethnic communities still maintains their unique way of life with their culinary cultures, and this market is a place to observe and learn about Singapore life. Every grocery need is catered for as well as household items, and fashion.
Then there are the hawker food stalls. Try the "pick your own" deep fried veggies. Grab your fryer basket (below), fill it with the options on display for around 80 cents each and hand it to your deep fat fryer operator. Voila.
3. National Gallery of Singapore (above and below)
I'd visited before and was so impressed I wanted the family to see it. It's a great combination of Singapore's history and art through the ages and right up to modern times. Galleries are also filled with installation art and pieces from all over Asia. Set within the stunning Old City Hall and Supreme Court building, this is the largest collection of SE Asian art in the world.
4. The Jewel (above and below)
One of the craziest/futuristic concepts I have ever encountered, and the opening of this mammoth entertainment and shopping complex just a few weeks ago at Changi Airport has made the airport a destination in itself. We arrived 6 hours early for our flight and it proved to be great decision. The Jewel is connected to all the terminals by walkways and a shuttle train and makes you feel like you are anywhere except an airport. Inside is a green jungle-like 5-story tiered garden, more than 280 retail and dining outlets, a hotel, a multi-screen IMAX theater and the centerpiece, an amazing 130ft tall Rain Vortex, which is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
5. Singapore Airlines (below)
I've saved the nerdy bit for last. At 9,534 miles, we've just flown on the longest flight in the world from Singapore to Newark and it clocked in at just over 18 hours. Thanks to the most flexible loyalty program among any airline, with points transferable from all 3 major US credit card companies, we enjoyed seats up front. Not quite as good as our Qatar Airways experience on the outbound long-haul flights, but not far behind either. Singapore Airlines made the interesting decision not to install any economy seats at all in the A350-900ULR, just business class and premium economy. Availability for Singapore award flight bookings is always good if you can commit 11 months ahead of travel.
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