The six-hour flight from Tokyo to Singapore did nothing to cure our zombie syndrome. But I could sense Singapore was going to be good – they had free candy at the customs check point! A strawberry sucker while you stamp my passport? Hellz to the yea. We wanted desperately to see the city, but it was midnight and we were beyond drained. We were this close to grabbing a hotel room inside the airport, but discovered we wouldn’t be let outside the airport again, and rallied harder than one rallies on USC game day. The airport’s famous butterfly gardens would have to wait – Silken and I stepped up to the hotels information desk and asked for the cheapest room available for two girls – ah, a $60 room in Little India! Silken was beyond thrilled, having just watched Anthony Bordain: No Reservations: Singapore Layover, she knew Little India was the place to be – a real gem at the top of her Singapore list. Gem indeed, an imitation plastic diamond that would ruin any happy engagement. Our taxi pulled up to the Broadway Hotel, whose sign had pretty rainbow Christmas lights and a gritty porch that served as home to many Indian men puffing away cartons of cigarettes. The room smelled like curry, but that was a given. As the clock struck 1 AM, our bellies rumbled and we asked the hotel reception as well as some police officers for food recommendations – did we like Indian? But of course! Just go “that way” and “turn right.” We walked cautiously down the sketchy street and exchanged some of our money at the five-story mall – it’s amazing how many people were craving body wash and iPhone accessories in the middle of the night. As we turned away from the money teller, I noticed that Nicole got $5 more for her $20 USD than I did – I turned back to the teller with a glare; he rolled his eyes and slid over the rest of my cash. Welcome to Singapore, I guess.
We had our pick of 24-hour Indian restaurants, and enjoyed some fantastic curry served on banana leaves – according to Mr. Bourdain, that’s how it’s done in Singapore. Back in the hotel, my stature and tendency to flop like a dying tuna fish in the middle of the night won me my own bed while Nicole and Silken spooned on the other twin bed.
Such dutiful tourists, we woke up early to see the sights via a city bus tour. A van picked us up and drove us for 30 minutes to catch the larger, real tour bus in Singapore’s famous Gardens by the Bay. The air-conditioned bus rumbled to life, and the tour guide gave us tidbits of information. Singapore is 42 x 23 kilometers big. Its smogginess was blamed on Indonesia. Talk about a rude neighbor – every year, for the past 30-something years, they burn all the plantations on Java, despite Singapore’s emails, letters, phone calls, and attempts to involve the United Nations. We drove past the Singapore Flyer, a ferris wheel rivaling the London Eye, and the Marina Bay Sands hotel. The hotel required an 8-billion dollar initial investment, but has already recovered that money in the four years it’s been open. On top of the hotel is the world’s highest infinity pool, where celebrities like Beyoncé and Lady Gaga have swam above Singapore. Wanna go for a dip? Too bad, it’s for hotel guests only, and the cheapest room is $600. Onward the bus rolled, until we reached our first stop: Little India! Ca-ching, score! We were back in Singapore’s gem, our favorite place. Granted, in the daylight it was much better, bursting with colorful flowers, spices, exotic vegetables, and happy people. British colonial architecture contrasted modern skyscrapers above markets straight out of Kerala or Jaipur. Our next photo opportunity was at the famous lion’s head sprouting water over the marina. Apparently the first explorers thought they saw lions on the Singapore coast, and Singa means lion, which I already knew from Singha beer cans… and they say alcohol isn’t good for the brain. But at the Chinatown stop, we grabbed our bags and bid farewell to the tour guide – it was time for a swim in the Marina Bay Sands infinity pool.
Looking rather homeless, we strolled through the spectacular lobby with swagger. But the place didn’t even have free wifi to lookup “how to sneak into Marina Bay Sands pool!” We put on bikinis underneath our clothes anyway, and paid a visit to the front desk, asking if we could store our bags for a bit. “Are you staying at the hotel?” “Yes, but our father is on his flight right now and his secretary booked it so we’re not really sure the name…” they took our bags, so we looked significantly less homeless. Maybe just foster-home children level now. They told us the best way to catch a glimpse of the famous infinity pool was to eat at Ce La Vie on the roof, but we’d still be a safe distance from the pool. Up on the roof, we scoped the scene- there were cameras everywhere, and each individual needed their own key to access the pool area. Rats! We sucked it up and took a seat at Ce La Vie; shortly after ordering, Nicole struck up a conversation with a Kiwi guy next to us. Ah, how fascinating that he was a paying hotel guest! The power trio was in action – he liked Nicole, and Silken and I could marvel over New Zealand for hours. More Kiwis joined his table, and as we finished eating they asked if we’d like to borrow their three keys to check out the pool. In my mind all I saw was a slot machine that’d just spun three dollar signs in a row – ca ca ca chinggggg! We played it cool, we’d be right back – after all, we had to leave for the airport in thirty minutes. We skipped our way through security and hopped into the pool, absolutely euphoric. Gliding through water 627 feet above Singapore was out of this world, and needed to be documented. We started snapping pictures, when a 50-year-old hairless Chinese man kept bumping in and asking to take photos with us – “Find me on Facebook, Stephen the most handsomest man in the world.” OK, Stephen, please move over because now the resort’s professional photographer would like to have a photo-shoot of just us. The photographer was a stocky Chinese girl with a bob, dressed in a full-body wetsuit. “Now smile! Now jump! Peace sign! Ok, turn around! Another peace sign!” We were nearly pissing ourselves laughing. We thought we’d had enough pictures, but the girl whinily insisted we had to take 24 photographs or her boss would be angry. But Stephen kept interrupting our photo-shoot to snap more selfies with us, and the girl became visibly irritated- do you know him?! She swatted at him, “I’m not finished yetttt!!!” We still had another 15 photos to take, damn it!
Worried about missing our flight, we dashed out of the pool (obviously making a pit stop to buy our photo-shoot CD – you only swim once), returned the keys and grabbed our bags from the hotel’s front desk. Talk about using and abusing a place – although our rich father was coming to meet us, for some unfathomable reason we needed a taxi to the international airport. I was crying laughing and we waved “buh-bye!” to the friendly baggage checker and world-famous hotel.