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Singapore was a trip I really wanted to do with Mummy. We had all had a long year and a half, with Reema and me staying with my parents and I was constantly on the run supervising my house renovation. Mummy took excellent care of both of us the whole time. I did absolutely no cooking or house work and she also took care of Reema many many times. So heartfelt thanks to Mummy - don't know how I could possibly manage anything without her! I actually managed to convince her to come along. Uma helped out a lot by staying with Papa so Mummy was a bit less worried about leaving him home alone. Initially it was just supposed to be me with Mummy and Reema. But at the last minute en route to the airport, Mayur surprised us all by joining us! Ah the advantages of having a US citizenship - just hop on a plane without requiring a visa :). Having Mayur around was a great great help for me - he helped out so much with all the planning, travel, and taking care of Reema. So huge thanks to Mayur too!

Now about Singapore! A lovely place to visit from India for 3-4 days. Its a short journey and it offers a little bit of everything for kids and adults. Food is not a big problem, even for vegetarians - its cosmopolitan and international enough to get by. Transport is excellent as in all international metros. Taxis are especially reasonable compared to other cities I've visited. We spend a leisurely week since the idea was to take a break from the daily grind but if you are on the get-go, 3-4 days is more than enough to cover Singapore. Hotels are expensive but there are a lot of bed and breakfasts, with people offering nice rooms in their houses (look on

Sadly our camera broke very early on in the trip. So we only have limited photos taken with Mayur's cell phone. But gives a good idea of what all we covered. Also, I got a bit lazy with writing this travelogue and did it more than six months after the trip so I've forgotten a lot of the details. So this is more of a general overview and probably more enjoyable compared to my other detailed travelogues ;).

October 22, Wednesday
Singapore - With Nilesh and famiy

We left Pune on 21st October evening. Mayur was with us in the taxi because he claimed to be going to Switzerland at the same time for some office work. And then he surprised all of us by saying that he was going to join us in Singapore after all! Splendid! No issues with the travel on Malaysian Airlines to Singapore via Kuala Lumpur. Mayur was with us on the first flight but he had a different onwards flight. So we reached Singapore airport an hour before he did. Nilesh, Mayur's friend who is a pilot in Singapore Airlines, had come to receive us at the airport with his family - his wife Senthu and his daughter Ananya. It was really sweet of them to come to pick us up! We all waited at the airport Starbucks till Mayur came. After that we all sat around for some time and then Nilesh dropped us to Roopa's house. Roopa is my school friend from Mumbai and we were going to stay at her place although she was away for a vacation to Mumbai at the time. We were attended to by her maid, Melanie - a great help for us!

We freshened up at Roopa's place and got some rest. Then Nilesh came to pick us up and we visited his lovely flat. We chatted and grabbed some appetizers there. Their house was beautifully decorated with rangoli and diyas on account of Diwali. I'm bad at taking photos of friends so again no photos of them or their house :(. Then they took us to Jumbo Seafood on East Coast Parkway but we decided to eat Italian a little further up at Pasta Fresca due to the limited veggie option at Jumbo. The Italian food was great! Nilesh drove us around town a little bit and also showed us the lovely Diwali lights in Little India. We shared a lovely day with all of them and they were very gracious in hosting us and chauffering us every where. Thanks Nilesh so much for the good fun!

October 23, Thursday
Downtown Singapore

We got ready, grabbed some breakfast, and took a bus to downtown Singapore. Our first stop was the famous Merlion which is in almost all photos of Singapore. It was smaller than expected but pretty nonetheless. The place was filled with tourists and it was almost impossible to get a photo by yourself with the Merlion. We got nice views of the other side of Singapore - Marina Bay Sands Casino and Hotel, the Singapore Flyer (the big giant wheel), The Esplanade which is a concert hall shaped like a durian (jackfruit), etc. It was a fairly hot day so we spent some time there, ate ice lollies, and walked around the area a little bit.


Reema was already starting to get a bit bored so Mayur graciously offered to take care of her while Mummy and I walked around downtown Singapore to see some of their historic sites. There are some nicely marked walking routes to see a bunch of things so we picked one which took about an hour to complete. Along the way we saw the statue of Mr. Raffles (the founder of Singapore?), a nice waterway area called Boat Quay, a cute bridge - Elgin Bridge, the nicely-maintained Parliament House, and the beautiful St. Andrew's Cathedral. We also saw the Swissotel Stamford Hotel which is (mostly) the tallest one in Singapore - we grabbed some macarons for Reema from there.

After doing the walking tour, we met Mayur and Reema again at the Raffles Hotel. This is the place where the famous drink - the Singapore Sling - was invented. We came back here later to try it. Opposite the Raffles Hotel is a the big Raffles City Mall with a nice food court inside. We grabbed lunch there and then proceeded to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino. The entire structure has three buildings of hotel rooms at the top of which is a common terrace with nice restaurants, pool, etc. At the lower levels, they have very high-end shopping, restaurants, and a casino. We were not able to go into the casino as we had not brought along our passports. We just sat and enjoyed a leisurely coffee. They had made a small replica of the famous Venetian bridge Ponte Rialto and a small canal in which people were taking gondola rides. After coffee, we went up to the top of the towers which again gave lovely views of the entire city.

From Marina Bay, we took the train to the Singapore Flyer Giant Wheel. We had timed it perfectly so we got nice views of the city by day and night. We spent a little bit of time earlier in the lawns by the waterfront close by from where we could see the Gardens of the Bay. The Flyer was a great experience. Reema loved it but was confused why it was going so slowly and not as fast as the ones in Manoranjan Nagri back in Pune :). The ride took about 45 minutes to complete. After that, we ate at a Subway in the same complex as the Flyer, and some local ice-cream thereafter. We had a tough time getting a bus back so we just took a cab back home. As I said earlier, taxis in Singapore are terribly reasonable - nothing much to think about.

October 24, Friday
Sentosa Island

Our camera died on us at this point of the trip :(. So the rest of the photos were taken on the mobile and are not that great. We also ended up taking far fewer photos. Anyway....Today we decided to visit the Sentosa Island which is a great hub for activities for tourist as well as localites. We took a bus to the Vivocity Mall from where there is a Monorail to go to Sentosa Island. There are a lot of ways to go to Sentosa - this was the most reasonable and convenient. The Monorail stops at different locations on the island - we first went to Pawlan Beach. Reema enjoyed playing over there. It was quite hot but she loved both the water and the sand. Located right on Pawlan Beach is a little kids' water park called 'Port of the Lost World'. All of us really enjoyed this place. It was the perfect size for Reema - just a few small slides and lots of water on that hot day. She played for a long time and we grabbed a nice Italian lunch at the cafetaria right there. Surprisingly we got a few good veggie options and margaritas :).

Then we headed off to see the rest of the Sentosa Island. We used the Monorail again to commute between points on the big island. First we stopped to see the Sentosa Merlion. This one is huge compared to the Patel Merlion but not as pretty. There is a little garden surrounding it and you can go up close but we just saw it from a distance. It looks more impressive from far away. Then on to the Aquarium. Reema was very tired from all the water play in the morning so she slept off in the stroller. We grabbed coffee at a nearby Starbucks. The Aquarium was beautiful and really huge. We saw all sorts of lovely sea creatures. Reema also enjoyed it a lot. But it was of course a lot of walking so we were quite drianed by the end of it. Sentosa had other attractions including a nice dinner dance show but we decided to call it a day and went home via Vivocity Mall. Ate sandwiches and crashed! Sentosa is a nice touristy place and you can spend a couple of days here doing all the different activities, albeit with slightly older kids.

October 25, Saturday
Singapore Zoo and Raffles Hotel

Singapore Zoo today! Singapore has a lot of zoo-like attractions - the main zoo, the night safari, the Jurong bird park, etc. We decided to just do one of those things and the zoo seemed to be the most obvious choice. It is located a little out of the way from the main city. So we decided to just take a taxi there which was very convenient. It was almost a 45-minute drive from home. The zoo is spread out over a huge area, and we got fairly tired walking around. But we saw a lot of lovely animals, and we fed a giraffe and an elephant. We saw the Elephant Show. Reema did a bunch of kids activities such as pony ride, carousel ride, horse buggy ride, and fed some goats. She also did some trampoline jumping - got a bit scared with it too :). We ate a lunch at the zoo and then took a taxi back home. There was quite a big line to take a taxi back but everything was very well organized and we waited smoothly in line till we got one.

Singapore Zoo

Since we were pretty beat from all the walking in the zoo, we came home and rested for some time. There was a cute Indian joint right outside the apartment complex so we had dinner there - fairly decent. It was still pretty early in the evening. So we decided to take a bus down Orchard Road which is the high-end shopping district in Singapore. There about half a mile stretch of road which is lined with high-end luxury item shops. It was a gorgeous bus ride and we really enjoyed riding along the well-lit fashion street. One could also walk but we were not interested even in window shopping so this turned out to be the best option for us. From Orchard Road, we went to the Raffles Hotel where the Singapore Sling drink was invented. We had a Sling each but it was quite a let down. Reema enjoyed the whole experience very much - especially the tradition of eating groundnuts and simply throwing the remains on the floor giving an old-school dirty effect. Back home by cab!

October 26, Sunday
Chinatown and La Pau Sat (Telok Ayer Market)

In the morning, we went to Chinatown and did some window shopping. We saw the massive Buddha temple in Chinatown where they still have a relic of this real tooth. Reema saw some people doing special prayers with a local priest and insisted that we do the same :). At the top floor of the temple was a lovely terrace garden and we spent some time there. Just across the street from Chinatown was a nice local mall and Mayur found an eclectic vegetarian place inside called Clarke Quay. So we ate healthy veggie food there. Mummy and I wanted to buy some souvenirs etc. at Chinatown so Mayur took Reema home. We shopped for a couple of hours and then went home ourselves. After some rest, we went for dinner to La Pau Sat (Telok Ayer market) which had a lot of street food vendors. It was a huge complex with more than 50-odd food stalls. Unfortunately, there was very little vegetarian food there. But its a great place with a nice lively atmosphere to get a local flavor of Singapore. We failed to get a bus back (a lot of buses do not run on Sundays) so took a taxi back home. Roopa and her family - husband Ankur and daughter Kyra - also got back that evening from Mumbai so we spent some time chatting with them at night.

October 27, Monday
Singapore Botanical Gardens

Today we visited the Singapore Botanical Gardens. It rained a bit but it cooled down the temperature and did not affect us much. The gardens were huge and we only covered a small portion ofit. Primarily, we targetted the beautiful National Orchid Garden. It had a lot of exotic varieties of orchids and Mummy really enjoyed seeing all of them. Surprisingly, Reema also enjoyed all the flowers and trees a lot. During the trip, she was complaining a fair bit about all the walking and Mayur had to pick her up fairly often. But no complaints in the botanical garden - she happily walked every where!

Right outside the Botanical Garden is the Tanglin Mall. We ate good Italian food and nice desserts at Brunetti inside the mall. After that we came home as Mayur was leaving for India in the evening. He packed his bags and took off for the airport. We all rested for some time. Reema was playing with Kyra and they both had a really good time, playing with each other and Melanie, and dressing up as princesses. Mummy and I took a round of the Great World City Mall near by and grabbed some croissants etc. from the local grocery store Fair Price. Shopping in general was expensive in Singapore so we didn't buy anything from branded stores.

October 28, Tuesday
Little India

This day was effectively our last day in Singapore as we were leaving very early the next morning to go back to India. No photos since Mayur took his phone back with him. We had a chilled out morning and then visited Little India. We spent quite some time at a huge shop there called Mustafa which sells just about everything under the sun! In general, Little India was very similar to the ones in the US - a bit messy, Indian restaurants and goods, etc. We bought a few things that caught our eye and then ate at the local Kailash Parbat branch. After we came home, we spent the evening with Roopa and Kyra. Reema did some swimming in the complex swimming pool. Ate a home cooked meal and packed up to leave the next day.

October 29, Wednesday
Pune, India

This was our last travel day. We took a very early morning taxi to Singapore airport. We reached Mumbai around noon and then headed back to Pune via taxi. A good fun trip! Mayur's help was invaluable. I hope it was a good break for Mummy too!