What I Learned from My Recent Trip to Singapore

The city is stunning….no matter how often you visit. It is easy to understand why people from all walks of life (including our youngest son) are proud to call this home.

We took in the Botanical Gardens (free!), museums, beaches, the Aquarium and all of the sights and sounds that we could explore during our limited time there. Richard even got a chance to watch some professional golfers in action (including Canada’s Brooke Henderson)!

I had also planned to make this a ‘foodie tour’ (I ADORE Asian food). Unfortunately, my stomach took a HUGE DISLIKE to our very first meal (food pictured below) and did not recover until five days after we returned home. Rice and ginger ale were my mainstays for this trip…but otherwise it didn’t slow me down. (And if you know Huiman Cheng, please let her know that I actually ate congee…several times!)

I had already known that when it is ‘your year’ in the Chinese Zodiac, you typically go through ‘the pain of rebirth’. But seriously, “no lucky star to guide me”? And “only determination and hard work will see me through”? Doesn’t the Chinese Zodiac know that I am retired? Although Richard’s year ahead was predicted to be ‘full of bliss,’ it is also supposed to be a challenging year for Dragons. Creighton (youngest son) was not amused!

There are numerous amazing side trips within a reasonable distance from Singapore. If taking one, don’t leave your common sense behind and don’t expect the new location to operate as smoothly as Singapore. I had done my research ahead of time and planned the buses that I would take once we arrived at our new destination (Cambodia). Somehow, I let myself get talked into taking “a deluxe VIP express bus” from an Airport Tout. (I know, I know!) And you guessed it…there was NOTHING ‘deluxe’, NOTHING ‘VIP’ and NOTHING ‘Express’ about the transportation that was provided! Richard found the experience fascinating. Despite my best efforts to sleep through the whole ordeal, I was exhausted. (We were the only foreigners on the bus and shared the full 7.5-hour ride with a live rooster…and other entertaining characters.) A word of caution, we now have ENDLESS ‘trip stories’ to tell!

We are lucky to have good friends all over of the world (many of them in Singapore). When true friends get together, no matter how long they have been apart, the conversation effortlessly continues just where it left off…as time and miles melt away.

And the ABSOLUTE BEST part of the trip? ‘Son time!’

Being able to see our grown son in his world, witness his successes, experience his passions, meet his friends and girlfriend…and just hang out together was magical. Rekindling those moments of wonder and play was heartwarming. Reliving milestones (remember your first official name sign on your work desk or door?) brought back fond memories. Our hearts continually swelled with gratitude that this respected, thoughtful, compassionate human being, setting out to make a difference, is someone whom we have watched grow and develop since his childhood. How could you ever want for anything more?

It was an amazing trip. And a few days after returning home, we began planning our next one!

80 Replies to “What I Learned from My Recent Trip to Singapore”

  1. Love this post and your photos, Donna. One day we’ll meet in person and I’ll ask you to tell me all about your VIP deluxe bus ride with the rooster. Singapore is one of the countries that I visited several times, and plan to stop over whenever I travel to South East Asia. Look forward to reading about your next planned adventure.

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    1. Hi, Natalie – I will definitely take you up on your ‘meet in person’ offer. I have life long friends that live in Toronto and we are definitely overdue for a visit. Our next trip is to Boston in April (to watch same son compete in the Boston Marathon). We do have a lay-over in Toronto…but unfortunately it is only 2.5 hours.

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  2. Sounds like a wonderful trip in spite of your dietary issues. Always fun to spend time with our kids and wonder how they turned out so well (sometimes in spite of us). Pictures are really beautiful!

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  3. Oh, the perils of being a foodie – we try everything, and sometimes it tries us. Sounds like you carried on anyway. So nice to share time with your son, in his space. Kids are so different than when at home, right? My daughter reverts to a needy child when she visits us, but she is a confident, competent grownup in her own environment.

    Love your photos, looking forward to more about your VIP ride.

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    1. Thanks, Kate – The prolonged stomach thing was a real drag. The good news was that I was fine if I didn’t eat! 🙂 I did feel robbed of all of that great food that I was planning on experiencing, but our time with our son, our friends and all of our other experiences more than made up for it! Next time…..

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  4. So glad that you got to have special time with Creighton. And I love your comment about seeing your friends there and no matter how long friends have been apart, the conversation effortlessly continues where it left off … that has definitely proven true for me over the years. Great photos!

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  5. Hi Donna – What an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing so many wonderful photos. Makes me want to go there someday! I was sorry to hear that your food explorations gave you problems. I’m like you, and like to immerse myself in the local cuisine. And like you, I’m a dog, too! I had to Google all of my “Earth dog” characteristics. Pretty much spot on! Thanks for a great post! ~ Lynn

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    1. Hi, Lynn – Great to hear that you are also an ‘Earth Dog’. I believe that our birthdays are not that far apart! Earth dogs are said to be “broad-minded, faithful, considerate, well-disciplined and to stick to their principles.” They are reported to be “grateful, chivalrous, brave and have the courage to take the blame for what they do.” They are believed to “set clear goals, be persistent and never give up.” They take” their own road in a down-to-earth manner.” Not bad traits to live by!

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  6. Thanks for sharing, Donna. Singapore was not on our “must see” list but it sounds like you got the most out of the trip. Great to see you back on your blog! All the best, John and Donna (still working and wondering about retirement.)

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    1. Hi, Cherie – Thanks so much for stopping by. There are endless things to see and do in Singapore. It is a very easy city to visit and/or reside in (thus its common nickname “Asia for beginners”). I highly recommend a visit there if you get the chance.

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  7. Donna, I think the VIP Express needs its own post. 7.5 hours with a live chicken had to have created some epiphany of life lesson(s)!

    It sounds like the trip was wonderful, even if you couldn’t indulge your foodie-ness. I need to go look my Chinese zodiac sign… I can never recall what it is!

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    1. Hi, Pat – It would take many months of therapy for me to want to relive that trip! 🙂 Richard found it to be an outstanding cultural experience — if only he blogged.
      BTW – Once you find out your Chinese Zodiac Sign please let me know. I’m curious!

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  8. I enjoyed your story of your trip to Singapore and Cambodia. Would love to hear more about the bus trip with the rooster! I love both countries and would love to return if only the flight wasn’t so long.

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    1. Hi, Fran – You are right about the long flight. We had travel coupons with Delta. This means that we needed to fly Victoria to Seattle, Seattle to Narita (Japan) and Narita to Singapore (25 hours each way, including airport stopover time)! I truly wish that Richard blogged….he tells that bus story way better than I do!

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  9. Donna, your trip looked amazing, but sorry to read you got sick! How wonderful to see your son, like you say, in his environment…something so rewarding about that! Various parts of Asia are places I would love to visit someday! Great post with great ideas!

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  10. So sorry for your food setback, especially if that cuisine is one of your favorites. But it sounds like you were a trooper about it, Donna. And what can beat a rooster on a bus? Well, maybe a reunion with your very handsome son. Well done!

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  11. Hi, Marty – You are absolutely right, Nothing beats ‘son time’. Although Richard and I have both been to Singapore a few times before….it is incredible to revisit a place through the eyes of a cherished friend or loved one!

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  12. Lovely photos and stories to tell. I’m glad that you overcame your stomach issues and were able to enjoy your trip. Singapore looks pretty. You’re lucky to have visited there.

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    1. Thanks, Ally – I definitely wasn’t going to let an unhappy stomach stop me from enjoying time with our son, our friends and all that we had planned. Thankfully, it was the “no eat, no worry” type of ailment.
      BTW – I am totally making up for that reduced eating time now! 🙂

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  13. This sounds like quite an adventure! It is fun to look back now on your misadventure on the bus and laugh, and you’re right, it makes a great story. I enjoyed hearing about your adventure through the MLSTL link.

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  14. That does look like an amazing trip, stomach problems aside. I’ll have you know that I am a Rooster, so I hope it wasn’t one of my relatives causing you bother on the bus 😉😏

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    1. Hi, Anabel – According to ‘KarmaWeather.com’ (with a name like that it just has to be ‘reliable’….), 2018 is a favorable year for Roosters. Apparently, you will start new projects, take many trips away from home, make new friendships and continue to enrich your social life! I can’t wait to read about your upcoming adventures! 🙂

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      1. Well, I have a lot to look forward to! I know last year was my special year as a “Fire Rooster” and a Chinese friend gave me a beautiful framed paper cut-out of a rooster to celebrate.

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  15. Hi Donna sounds like you had a mixed time in Singapore but the photos are amazing. Spending time with your son would have been the highlight of course. Travelling is such a wonderful experience even when we get caught out with VIP Deluxe travel or accommodation which in reality is the opposite. At the time it is frustrating but as you say you have many travel stories from those experiences. We have been to Singapore twice although found the humidity almost unbearable. At one stage we were just walking through shopping malls to get relief from the airconditioning. The gardens and zoo are amazing and thanks for sharing your trip with us at #MLSTL. BTW I am a Rooster in the Chinese Zodiac, so is my daughter and her father. I’ll need to check what our year is going to bring us. Have a great week!

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    1. Hi, Aixa – Your question about the cost of living/traveling in Singapore is often widely debated. In 2017, a group of academics at the National University of Singapore, found that “For expats, Singapore was about fourth most expensive city in the world. But for the ‘ordinary residents’, it was 48th, wedged between Lisbon and Pittsburgh.” While eating out at restaurants (especially in the tourist areas) can be quite pricey, there are many alternatives to work around this (e.g. buy a transportation card (CEPAS/EZ-LINK Card) as soon as you arrive, have a reusable water bottle with you and refill it as you go (the tap water is safe to drink), eat in Food Courts and Food Halls (Singapore has some of the best)….etc. Thanks for stopping by. I greatly appreciate it.

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  16. Uh-oh – it sounds like your bus trip falls into that category of ‘today’s disaster is tomorrow’s really great story’ 🙂

    In spite of the travel surprises, and food disappointments, it sounds like you will have many stories to tell!

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  17. What an amazing trip! It’s such a shame that you had stomach issues (especially with all that wonderful food available) but it sounds like you soldered through. The funny thing about “mishaps” on trips, they often make the best memories and stories (your VIP bus ride, not the stomach problems). If everything was perfect, life would be boring. How nice that you were able to see old friends, and – most especially – spend time with your son. And, yes, I remember the thrill I had when I first saw my name on my work door (heck, I was thrilled when I received my first business cards 🙂 ). I’m glad you are now back safe and sound.

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    1. Hi, Janis – I was thrilled with my first business cards too…and still have some! Thanks so much for your kind (and wise) words. I agree that things not going as planned (within reason) can make it interesting. And I definitely know what I would do differently if revisiting Singapore and Cambodia! 🙂

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  18. What a wonderful time you had (except for the stomach issues!) and to be able to spend so much time with your son and also catching up with friends would have been so lovely. My favourite place in Singapore is Gardens By The Bay – just beautiful. But the whole city is so clean and well organized and there’s so much to do – what’s not to love?
    Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx

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  19. Oh how awful to not be able to enjoy the foodie delights of Singapore. It is a City we love and have found to be so good for just wandering around (despite the heat). We too have enjoyed the Botanical Gardens, particularly the National Orchid Garden and of course Gardens by the Bay. But we have also loved wandering the streets of Chinatown and the area around Arab Street. Much more for us to discover on our next trip. Pinned.

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    1. Hi, Jan – Just wandering around (with sunhat, sunscreen and water bottle) is my favorite thing to do in Singapore. There is so much to see and experience there. I’m glad to connect with another Singapore fan. Thanks for pinning this!

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  20. What a trip of mostly ups – a few downs. Like the food thing – ugh! And the bus ride with the rooster which cracked me up. Looks like overall a very successful trip and so wonderful for you to have the quality time with your son. Singapore looks delightful!

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  21. What an amazing trip, Donna! Thanks for sharing the photos. I’m not sure I could survive a 7-1/2 hour bus ride, with or without a rooster. I’m sorry you missed out on the food, but glad you got to spend time with your son and good friends.

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    1. Hi, Christie – That rooster definitely made his presence known. I don’t think that he was a fan of the long bus ride either! Minus the rooster and the food thing, it was a fabulous trip. We are very grateful that we had the opportunity to experience this trip with our son, and with old friends!

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  22. You have a wonderful ability to stay on the sunny side of the street despite roosters, long rides (plane and bus), and food that attacks your system.
    It is absolutely no surprise at all that you have so many friends or that your son is as terrific as he obviously is. Kudos.

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    1. Hi, Karen – I greatly appreciate your kind words. The 7.5-hour bus ride, the rooster and the stomach revenge were all small prices to pay for this fabulous trip. And I’ve learned to rethink some of my travel/food choice decisions for next time! 🙂

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  23. Looks like a fabulous trip – apart from not being able to eat anything but rice and ginger ale. I’m waiting to hear about the trip in Cambodia with the rooster.

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    1. Thanks, Kalpana – It was a fabulous trip despite the unexpected set backs. Since I had my eyes shut (but unfortunately not my ears or nose) for the majority of the bus ride, Richard is the best person to write (or dictate) that post!

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  24. Having the time and flexibility to spend more time with adult children is one of the best things about retirement, I think. In my case, I relocated to be closer to them, and it has been a joy.

    Jude

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  25. Oh Donna, this was just lovely to read. I’ve been to Singapore before and enjoyed your photos which helped me relive our visit. I’m sorry to hear you weren’t able to do all the eating you’d planned but it was great to see you didn’t let it stop you. The VIP trip sounds fascinating and your photos of your time with your son are heartwarming.

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  26. I’m so sorry to hear about your upset stomach, Donna. And that deluxe bus trip reminded me of a deluxe train trip I once took in Spain, which included chickens and pigs in the same carriage! 🙄
    Did you get to visit the hotel I hear about in Singapore that has the swimming pool on its roof? I think it’s called the ‘Marina Bay Sands ‘hotel. I saw a TV programme about it called ‘Amazing Hotels of The World’ and it looks amazing. However, rather experience I would think?
    I loved all your photography, and so pleased to hear how your son has settled down in Singapore. I’m sure there will be a return trip planned soon?

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    1. Hi, Hugh – A pig and chickens on the same train carriage as you? Suddenly my “VIP bus experience” is seeming much better. In Singapore, we did get to experience some fabulous roof top lounging. We also went to the Marina Bay Sands…but not to their roof top pool. The MBS did have a Robot that served free water and soft drinks and stopped and chatted with you. That was very cool!

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      1. Wow! A water serving Robot. That’s cool, Donna. Did you find Singapore humid? Glad you visited the hotel. I expect there are many to visit, each with their own unique experience.

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  27. Wonderful experiences in a fascinating city! I take it this was your first time in Singapore? Based on your photos and experiences, there sure is a lot to see and do. I was there for a few days while backpacking in 1997, but based on your post, I barely touched the surface. All I remember is the heat and humidity, something I wasn’t used to yet back then. Oh, I do remember long, uncomfortable day and night-long bus rides throughout SE Asia as well. Crazy adventures!

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  28. Hi, Liesbet – Thank you for dropping by. As we lived in Beijing for fourteen years, and frequently had conferences throughout Asia, both Richard and I have been to Singapore several times before. That made the trip even more enjoyable and we could stroll and linger without doing the mad tourist rush. Your memory is correct – very hot and very humid! 🙂

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