Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires...courage.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Never Waste a Layover

For any one who doesn't know, I’m Karl. Wendy’s hubby of 13 years. I’m currently on my first trip to the Far East since taking over the region as program manager. I will be spending a majority of my time on Borneo Island at the eastern tip of Malaysia. I’ll try to post snippits of the trip on Wendy’s site as time permits.

I Arrived in Singapore after a nonstop flight from Newark, NJ. This was an interesting flight on Singapore Airlines, as the entire plane is configured for business class seating. I’ll go ahead and say it. I don’t care how nice the seats are, 19 hours is a long time to be on a plane. Landing meant time to stretch my legs.

I had an 8 hour layover here before traveling to my final destination in Tawau, Malaysia, and not wanting to spend it in an airport terminal, I decided to take a taxi downtown. I did not know this, but the country of Singapore is not much more than the size of a large US city. It sits right middle of the two main land masses of Malaysia and is separated on all sides by water. The city proper is very clean and modern. Once downtown, you really wouldn’t know you were outside of the states. It was Just before 7 am local time when I arrived, and most of the downtown area was closed. Because of this I had the Taxi driver drop me off a couple miles outside the downtown area in a residential area that contained a shopping district that he said was open 24 hours. This particular strip reminded me of some of the costal areas of Mexico and the Caribbean, and is probably where most of the locals do their day to day shopping. Interesting side note. I had something happen to me that I never experienced before. When the taxi let me out the meter read 20RM. (RM is shorthand for Renggit, the local currency). After giving the driver 24 he said "you gave me more." and haded back the extra 4. I never thought I'd live to meet a cabbie that didn't accept tips!

From here I hoofed it to the downtown harbor area, which was beginning to open for business by the time I arrived. In a previous post I think I remember writing about my ride on the London Eye, created as the largest ferris wheel on the planet. As cool as it was, I remember being slightly disappointed that by the time I got to it, a larger one had already been constructed… in Singapore. So on my way downtown I walked through Singapore’s new creation, the Singapore Flyer, which was of course built a few meters taller than the one in London making it the new largest. But as is the case with all record breakers, they are due to be one day broken themselves. Dubai is currently working on the Great Dubai Wheel which is due for completion next year.
This was taken from one of the overpass walkways on my trek downtown. That’s the other tip off that you’re out of the states. Everyone drives on the left side of the street. I really like those trees.

This is me across the harbor from the business district on my way downtown. Notice the little white objects in the water behind me. I was told that they are wishing balls. They are the size of large beach balls. The idea is that you pay a little bit of money to write your wish for the upcoming year on one of them and set it afloat in the harbor. I’m not sure if this is an old tradition or a new idea thought up to raise money for charity, but is seems fun. Also note the little white post over my left shoulder on the opposite bank. This is a Mer-Lion. The next picture is a closer view of this, but I just wanted to give a sense of perspective to the distances of the pictures.

This is a closer shot of the Mer-Lion, guarding the downtown harbor area. It is a half Lion half fish combo (think Mermaid, but fuzzier) and is apparently a national symbol of Singapore. Since taking this pic, I’ve seen a couple in tourist brochures taken from a different angle to make it appear as if the water from its mouth is flowing into the open mouth of a person in the foreground. I wish I had thought of that. Oh well, maybe next time.

After getting my morning exercise I hopped back into a cab for the next leg of my journey that would take me for an overnight stay in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Overall, it was a great morning. I think my new travel motto will be “Never waste a layover.”

1 comment:

perfectbydesign said...

What a surprise...I logged on to find a post that I didn't actually write! :) Glad you found time to tell us what's going on, and yes I'm jealous. Wish I could be there experiencing this with you...I wanna rent one of those cabana's over the water.