Tuesday, April 12, 2011

(Travelogue) Oriental Outings Day 1: The Clinical Singapura - Mar 1, 2011

Fortunately, the sleepless ordeal came to an early end as we had to catch the 7 am flight. Originally, we booked Karachi-Singapore flight with a brief layover of 2 hours at Colombo, however, the flight had been rescheduled which effectively added 12 frustrating hours in the journey! Things were not going as per our wishes!!
Colombo Airport transit lounge
Internet Kiosk in the lounge
Occupied with mixed thoughts, and concerned about coming days, we landed at Changi Airport Singapore. The airport is a bit away from the city center; however, it is well connected through the MRT, i.e. Mass Rapid Transit, a metro-like train system.  

Since onboard toilets are not kids friendly so Urooba took benefit of the baby changing room to conciliate Misha’s anxiety while I waited for the luggage! Parents take note, please! (Baby care facilities in Singapore)

Afterwards we headed to Terminal 2 to catch the MRT.
Skytrain: connecting various terminals of Changi Airport
Waiting for the next skytrain
What Kind of Meal Break Was That at 5pm!
Eventually, we reached the MRT station only to find out that the electronic ticketing machine does not accept big denomination notes! To make things more interesting, the help counter was closed for meal break! Perplexed, which meal of the day they have in Singapore at around 5pm, I had no option but to awkwardly ask people around for the change!  

The Mass Rapid Transit, MRT:
MRT is to Singaporeans what water is to fish! This is not an overstatement; Singaporeans may survive without food, though hardly, but they cannot with the MRT. The train connects the whole island country efficiently. It was so friendly, both Singapore and the MRT, that we made it to Woodlands, where our host Jeffery resides, without any hassle. For next three days, MRT was life to us too!

The transit system has its own culture so as Singapore; most people are on the go, youngsters busy in gadgets, oldies having a quick nap, announcements about the next destination every few minutes, and an exchange of busy commuters at each stop. A perfect reflection of Singaporean lifestyle: clean, diversified, fast, and clinical!

Can't It Be More Organized?!
You cannot get lost in Singapore!
Jeffery, our host in Singapore, was kind enough to send his son Schen and daughter Cai Shi to pick us up from the Admiralty MRT station, which was actually walking distance away from the apartment complex # 636. Majority of Singaporeans reside in these lego-like structures, which are seldom named, and instead go by numbers, from 1 to 635 and beyond! These complexes are developed and allotted by the Singapore Housing and Development Board to Singapore citizens on first come first serve basis. This sounds too mechanical, but at the same time ensures affordable and quality housing to every Singizen! 

Couch Surfing: For a Better World
Jeffery is a very experienced member of Couchsurfing.org, a global network which lets travelers share their hospitality.

We were a bit skeptical of the idea until we hosted a French couple back home through the same network. Still then, we had reservations! However, all the doubts vanished the way Jeffery and children treated their first Pakistani guests. It took us no more than a few minutes to feel home!

Schen, Jeffery’s son, is serving Singaporean Army for a compulsory two year military training, called National Service, while Cai Shi is studying in a technical college. The home is incomplete without the sweet puppy, Ah Poi, who was so adorable and easygoing that Misha quickly made friends with it! 

After having shower, we had to go out for a dinner invitation. In the meantime, Jeffery also offered us dinner and opined that going out far is not a good idea after such a long flight, and he was undoubtedly right. However, we felt committed and obliged with our Travel Buddy friend Hadi, who had kindly invited us for the dinner even before we had finalized our travel plans!

Eat, Eat, and Eat!
Hadi and Khalid were waiting for us at the meeting point, which had now been changed to Ang Mo Kio, a newly developed suburb, because of the time constraint. 
Chicken Satay, Gado Gado, and India Rojak! Yummiee!!
It was ~9pm; late for dinner in Singapore!
Like in Karachi, the favourite hangout in Singapore is Eating-out! "Eat, eat, and eat", is the popular slogan there comparable to ours
 چلو چلو نشتر پارک چلو
More like in Karachi, food outlets are spread all around; where one can have a blend of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Continental food. Pocket friendly hawkers are in vogue unless you wish to have a sumptuous meal. Food quality is great while taste may vary to blend and boiled to spicy and exotic. We selected one around Ang Mo Kio, a newly developed town, and Hadi ordered Indonesian style cuisine which I found very tasty. During the dinner, we had a nice converstaion and found Hadi a mature and a sociable guy.

On the other hand, Urooba was a bit uncomfortable because of the jetlag. After all, it had been a long day so far, in fact two long days, but things had started getting better for us!
(See more on Hadi's blog)

Open Door Policy
And the best came last; when we got back to our home it was quite late but our hosts actually kept all the doors wide open, and not just unlocked, to make us feel comfortable. Perhaps, it was the first time that I literally saw open door hospitality. Wow!

No comments:

Post a Comment