Our trip was started from Bandung, our home town. There was a Merpati direct flight from Bandung to Singapore. Thank God for that. We didn’t have to go to Jakarta to go to Singapore. Although it was a high season, the flight was only half full. But, I heard that the other way around was full. The aircraft was clean. I think the seats were just repainted.
The plane left Bandung at 9:00 AM, Monday. We arrived at Changi around 1 hour 45 minutes later. Changi was relatively empty. It was unusual for me. It was nice to pick up our bags. We didn’t have to wait long for custom either. So the whole trip was a breeze and pleasant. I hope it will always like that.
At the airport we had to wait for the other students (scholars) to arrive. Somebody from the school was supposed to picked my daughter up. While waiting, I decided to change my Rupiah into Singaporean Dollars. It was "humbling" (to say the least) to see that for Rp 1000,- I got S$ 0.170. Rupiah is the only one with zero in front. Other currencies had more dignity. (Never mind that it was also one thousand Rupiah! Can you imagine the number of zeros in Singaporean dollars had they put one Rupiah?)
In the money changer, I bought GSM SIM cards (SingTel cards) for my cellphones. One for me and one for my daughter. They were prepaid cards with S$ 100 in them. In Singapore you have to show your ID to buy a SIM card, whereas in Indonesia you could get it anywhere without IDs. I showed her my passport. I got my Singaporean phone number.
We went to my daughter hostel, which is at Anglo Chinese School (ACS), Barker Road (off Dunearn). My daughter school – the Singaporean Chinese Girls School (SCGS) – is not far from it. It is around 10 to 15 minutes walk from there. There were a total of 16 students from Indonesia (from Bandung, Jakarta, Medan, Semarang, Surabaya[?]).
At around 5 PM we checked in into our hotel, Hotel Asia, which was apparently not far from the hostel. I was worried about the reservation so that I kept on calling them to tell that I was going to be late. It was a peak season and I didn’t want to lose my hotel reservation. Later on, I found out how lucky we were to get reservation because hotels around Singapore were booked solid! The next day I overheard guests who were turned down at our hotel. Another parent could not extend their stay because it was already booked by someone. We were fortunate to book the whole stay. Oh, I made the reservation through the Internet. They were very responsive. My emails were answered quickly.
We were hungry, so we decided to walk from our hotel to Orchard Road. It was not that far, but far enough to get an exercise. It was around 15 minutes walk.
Orchard Road was not like before. It was dirty. I saw a lot of young Singaporeans hanging out and smoking on the sidewalks. Cigarette butts were everywhere. This was not the Singapore I had in mind. A few years back, it was much cleaner. It is sad to see that Singaporean youths are loosing their identities. They want to be westernized, in the wrong way. Although I am not a Singaporean citizen, it is becoming my concern now since my daughter is going to school in Singapore. I sincerely hope that Singaporean government do something about this youth.
Internet access at the hotel was not great. There was a wireless access in our room, but the connection was flakey. The signal was too low. Perhaps it was only in our room, which was in the far corner of the hotel. The signal was okay in the hallway, but I wouldn't want to do the Internet in the hallway. The whole point of wireless access at the hotel is to have access inside the room.
The wireless access cost was also expensive. For 1 hour access, the cost was S$ 5. For 3 hours, it was S$ 8, and for 24 hours, it was S$ 26. I would have taken the 24-hours access had the signal was good and the total hours were accumulated, not 24-hours (or 1-hour straight). Apparently, if I bought the 1-hour access, I had to use it straight one hour. I could not use it for 15 minutes, and use the rest later on during the day. Perhaps, this was just the setup by the wireless provider. In Indonesia and India, if you bought 1-hour access, you could split the usage in whatever ways you like. You could use 15 minutes today, 15 minutes tomorrow, and the rest the next day. To make the story short, I didn’t get an internet access in our room.