19.12.2008 - 20.12.2008
The traveling part of our adventure has begun in earnest! We flew out of Colombo at 1:40am on Friday and arrived in Singapore at 8am, without a whole lot of sleep on the plane. After clearing customs we started the day with a refreshing breakfast at Burger King, before heading off to an appointment with some people at the CH office in Singapore. We met some great folks and talked about future job opportunities, but by about 2pm we were both fading fast, so we headed to our executive floor room (I love being a Hilton Diamond VIP) and passed out for a couple hours. We got up just in time to get our free drinks and snacks in the executive lounge before heading back to bed.
Our first "real" day of vacation was pretty much perfect. We slept in, ate a great breakfast, and just wandered around Singapore for the day. The highlight was a visit to the Chinese Gardens. They had some beautifully manicured gardens, an incredible bonzai house, and some really cool historical statues. Best of all, it was a very cool day and we basically had the park to ourselves. Very mellow and relaxing...exactly what we needed after the chaos of closing out our project in Sri Lanka.
After the gardens, we headed back to Orchard Road which is the ultimate shopping street. Mall after mall, shop after shop. Jen had her first real experience of culture shock. After being in Sri Lanka, where shopping can be a challenge at best, it was a little overwhelming to walk into a huge mall that was more extravagant than anything we have in Portland. Definitely took a little bit of an adjustment. What threw me, though, was how Christmasy everything is. For a country with not a whole lot of Christians they have sure embraced Christmas wholeheartedly. Or at least the consumerism aspects of it. Nevertheless, they did a great job with lights and decorations in the streets. This picture doesn't do it justice, but it was pretty incredible, even for a grinch like me.
We decided to have a late lunch/early dinner at a Chinese restaurant in the mall and were amazed at how good the food was for a mall. We had garlic fried prawns, chicken in a sweet and spicy sauce, and some really good dry sauted string beans. It was a little more expensive than we had expected, but was worth every penny..or so we thought. We had budgeted to spend $50/day and had thus far been able to see Singapore on a shoestring (thanks to our free stay at the hilton), but after paying for the lunch tab we realized that we were fifty cents short for our subway ride to the airport the next day. So we wandered around for another hour, eyes to the ground, trying to find spare change on the street. Unfortunately, Singapore is so damn clean that we were only able to find another 5 cents, so Jen had to sweet talk the front desk in the Hilton to change one dollar so we could make it to the airport. I guess learning to live on a budget is just part of the adventure.
We're off to Malaysia now for another week long stay in the Hilton Malaysia...