Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trip to the Lion City-November 2010

October 31, 2010: I was happy to leave Vellore (at last-after 3 and a half months!). Departed from Katpadi (Vellore’s railway station) by 2609 Bangalore Express at 15:55. Reached Bangalore City at 20:06. My parents had reached safely from Ahmedabad with my grandmother. I was glad to meet them after ages. We discussed about the forthcoming trip to Singapore! Stayed at home for two nights-October 31 and November 1.

November 2, 2010: D-Day! Passports and visas were ready! My parents and I were all set to leave!
We left home at 06:45 pm in a Maruti Suzuki Swift. Reached Bangalore’s Devanahalli International Airport at 08:35 pm. After immigration and security check, we were free (at 09:45 pm).
Boarded a Singapore Airlines aircraft at 10:45 pm. It took off at 11:10 pm.
Had dinner-an Asian vegetarian meal was served. It comprised rotis, paneer curry, pulao and yogurt. Also had fruit punch. Pity I couldn’t consume an alcoholic beverage (Cocktails like Bloody Mary and Screwdriver, apart from J.B’s Black Label and Smirnoff’s Vodka were available onboard.)
My window seat (Economy class) was comfortable, but I didn’t sleep well. I didn’t watch any of the movies on board, which included Inception, Salt, Avatar, 3 Idiots, I Hate Luv Stories, My Name is Khan, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Sex and the City 2, Toy Story 3, Knight and Day, The Dark Knight, Terminator Salvation apart from some Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French and Tamil flicks. TV Shows onboard included an episode each of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, The Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons, Gossip Girl and Doctor Who. Instead of watching them, I chose to keep myself occupied with the flight path. I was updated with geographical information, as the aircraft flew over Tamil Nadu, The Bay of Bengal, The Nicobar Islands, The Straits of Malacca, and the Malayan peninsula before ultimately landing in Singapore.

November 3, 2010: Reached Singapore at 6 am. Cleared immigration and retrieved baggage.  Singapore’s Changi Airport gave an excellent first impression of the city-it was well maintained compared to many airports in India. We left at 08:30 am. A person called Guna had come to receive us. We left in an air-conditioned Toyota van.

The streets of Singapore were spotlessly clean. It felt like Paradise being there-so Utopian that you couldn’t imagine in any Indian city. The tarmac or asphalt roads were smooth, devoid of potholes and sand (typical of Bangalore and Ahmedabad.)
We zipped past at a good speed, not exceeding the speed limit though!
Another difference between Singapore and India (in terms of transportation) was the absence of noisy three-wheelers and annoying tractors on streets. Moreover, just a few two-wheelers were seen. Most of the cars were of Oriental origin (most of them Japanese Toyotas, Hondas and Suzukis, apart from Korean Hyundais and Kias.) Most of the taxis were either Hyundai Sonatas (new) or Toyota Crowns (old). A few, presumably the affluent, owned European models like the Bentley Arnage, the Audi A4 and the occasional Lamborghini Gallardo. No Fords or Cadillacs and certainly no Maruti 800s, Omni vans, Gypsys or Ambassadors (Indian cars) were seen. A few motorbikes were seen-2-stroke Yamaha RX-series bikes, along with Hondas and Suzukis. A few Bajaj Pulsars were spotted as well! Scooters were few in number, mostly Vespas of Italian origin. There were no Kinetic Hondas, Activas or Bajaj Chetaks, but mopeds were in plenty.

We reached Little India and checked into the Grand Chancellor. It was recently built and the rooms were comfortable.  After refreshing ourselves, we visited Singapore Zoo and went for the Night Safari. It was nice to see a well maintained zoo which was more like a national park, instead.

November 4, 2010: Went for the city tour in the morning. Saw Raffles Hotel from outside, but the building was not impressive compared to many skyscrapers in the city centre. We saw the Singapore Flyer, but did not go for a ride.
We went to the riverfront where the Merlion and the statue of Raffles were located. We also went to a Chinese temple and prayed for good luck. In the afternoon, we visited Sentosa Island. This was the most enjoyable part of the trip. The Underwater World was more than just an aquarium-the experience was as good as scuba diving! It was worth viewing many exotic aquatic species there.  We went up the Singapore Tower and had a bird’s eye view of the city. Later, there was a dolphin show, where acrobatic feats were performed by a porpoise. Just after sunset, we went for an entertaining show- “The Songs of the Sea”, with spectacular audio-visual effects, held on the shore of Siloso beach.

November 5, 2010: Visited Jurong Bird Park in the morning. A mind-boggling variety of avian species could be seen. There were bird shows too. Came back to the hotel room and relaxed for a while. We went for shopping in Little India in the evening. Mustafa Centre was just awesome-there were more goods for sale than in any Indian supermarket. The stores on Serangoon Street were really well-decorated for the festive occasion of Deepavali. We went to purchase souvenirs at ‘3 for $10’ shops.

November 6, 2010: Visited Veerakaliamman temple, Little India in the morning. It was like any temple in Tamil Nadu, with a gopuram and red stripes on walls. In the afternoon, we got ready for the journey back home. We returned to Bangalore at night by a Singapore Airlines flight.

It was an unforgettable trip. I feel like visiting the city again, probably for work in the near future. I was very impressed with the city’s infrastructure and the perfect amalgamation of tradition and modernity. It was a perfect pot-pourri of the West (industrialization and efficiency in implementation of laws) and the East (the Orient-for culture and family values.) Rudyard Kipling would have sung a different tune if he had visited Singapore (His quote “OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meetis not applicable!). It is evident that Singapore is a fine city, because there are fines for everything (this is a T-shirt quote)!

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