|Today was a travel day. We were to picked up at 6:35, so we went down at 6:00 to pay the bill for room service last night, and eat our box breakfast, the breakfast buffet did not open until 6:30. He arrived at 6:20 and we were on our way to the airport on an early Saturday morning. We arrived by 7:15 at Taoyuan Airport and went over to the EVA Air kiosk. We then went to drop our luggage.
Now there was an interesting drop off. It was a Self Service Baggage Drop machine that each person approached separately, you placed your luggage in the alcove until the red side lights goes green notifying you that your luggage is properly placed. You then scanned your passport which allows the computer to access your information, then you scanned your boarding pass so that the machine printed your luggage tag. You placed the luggage tag on your luggage, and pressed finished. The door then closes over your luggage and sends it to the scanner. Then the computer prints your luggage receipt and you proceed to security. Quite an efficient operation. More airlines should look into using this process.
Taiwan has their act together. We were through security in no time flat and on our way to our gate. Our flight was scheduled for 9:25 am. However, the plane was a little late in arriving, so we were a little late in boarding. Our seats were in the back of the plane, row 47, so we were in the last section to board.
We had a 4 1/2 hour flight to Singapore. We were served a meal on the flight. We both had the chicken entree, which was chicken in a mushroom sauce with spaghetti, plus some vegetables. It also had a salad, fresh fruit, a roll and a dessert included with real silverware to use.
Jean watched 1 1/2 movies, the first was "Transcendence" with Johnny Depp (she gave it an average rating) and the second which she did not finish was "The Mule" with Clint Eastwood. I started to watch "J. Edgar" with Leonardo DiCaprio but it kept glitching and then stopped and I could not restart it. Too bad, because I thought it was very good. I then watched "The Favorite" with Emma Stone. It was about Queen Anne during the war with France in the 18th century. Sort of an odd comedy historical drama.
We landed about 2:20 pm, about 25 minutes late. We proceeded through passport control quickly, got our luggage and went out into the receiving hall. But, our ride was not there! I started to boot up my phone, and then he appeared. We took the van into the city to our hotel, the Rendezvous Hotel. We began to unpack for our three night stay (it's nice when you don't have to live out of your luggage because of one night stays) and relax.
We had scheduled a night tour of Singapore with World Express. Our scheduled pick-up was for 6:00 pm. We were in the lobby about 5:45 and our driver arrived a little early. We were taken to the central location for the tours at a hotel. As we disembarked we gave our choices for our included dinner to the young lady who cheeked us in and gave us our pink Singapore by Night (With Sling) sticker to place on our shirt/blouse. Jean chose the chicken and I chose Seafood fried rice. We then waited inside the hotel lobby in their tour lounge area for quite awhile as the tour guide informed us that the others had not arrived yet.
We were finally a group of six. Besides ourselves, there was an older New Zealand couple and a middle-age German couple that completed our tour group. Our tour guide escorted us through the first floor restaurant out to the hotel patio, where there was a table set for us overlooking the Singapore River. We had thought from the tour description (as did the other two couples) that the dinner was going to be on a boat as we cruised the river. Surprise! So we sat and talked with the others, saw loud fighter jets fly overhead in formation and do maneuvers in the air practicing for the August 8 Independence Day celebration.
Let me pause for a minute. Apparently, Singapore takes this independence celebration very seriously as they have a practice parade, airshow and later that night (spoiler alert) fireworks practice the two Saturdays before the event. The tents for the celebration, flags, etc. are already set. The German couple said that they saw tanks and other armored equipment rolling by their hotel earlier on the way to the practice parade.
After dinner, we got in our van and drove around the city on the way to Clarke Quay. Along the way our guide was pointing out the areas, buildings, the financial district, etc. We arrived at Clarke Quay and walked through it on our way to catch the boat. This area was once all warehouses, and are now mostly small restaurants and shops. It was a hopping Saturday night, with live entertainment emanating from many of the restaurants.
With our guide, we were able to jump the long queue and get on the next boat after she had purchased the tickets. It was about a 30 minute ride up, then down the river to the marina area. I was taking pictures along the way, when we began to encounter fireworks. At first they were behind some buildings and only lasted a few moments. Then as we entered the waters in front of the Marina Bay Sands (Singapore's most iconic landmark that has the top that looks like a boat), and near the Singapore Flyer ferris wheel, a spectacular fireworks show began and we had front row seats! It was better than the Fourth of July!
After the boat trip, we walked through the rest of the quay back to our waiting van. We then headed through the city to Raffles Hotel. Raffles is famous for the Long Bar where the Singapore Sling originated. The story our guide told was that back in the old days, men could sit on the veranda and enjoy their liquor, but ladies did not enjoy that privilege. So a bartender, Ngiam Tong Boon, decided to remedy that situation. He concocted a fruit juice based drink that had liquor, but looked like the ladies were just enjoying a fruit punch, thus circumventing the morales of the day.
We arrived at the hotel which is undergoing renovation, but the Long Bar is still open. Only Jean and I had taken the option to have a Singapore Sling included on the tour (how can you be in Singapore and not enjoy a Sling?), the"other couples just looked around and waited. Our guide once again by-passed the long queue and got us a table, ordered and paid for our drinks. So we enjoyed the atmosphere, and ate some of the peanuts from the huge bag on the table. The custom is as you shell your peanuts, you just throw the shells on the floor. So we complied with the tradition, being interrupted by the sound of the bartender, using the shaker machine that could do five large shakers at a time, every once in a while.
We were given a half an hour to have our drink, but we were done in 15 minutes and didn't want the New Zealand couple to have to wait any longer as they had an early morning flight tomorrow. So we were dropped at our hotel after they dropped the New Zealand couple (the German couple's hotel was within walking distance and they had already left). It was now 9:30 and we had had a long day, so we retried early.