Singapore and home at last

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Our flight from Zurich was fully loaded and departure was delayed briefly while somebody was persuaded to wait until next day. Once in the air, we relaxed until the meal was served and then tried to get as much sleep as we could manage. The crew woke and fed us again a couple of hours before we touched down in Singapore at around 4:30 pm. We were a little behind the scheduled time.

We managed to clear the simple entry formalities easily – our baggage was checked through to Brisbane so that was one less thing to attend to. Out in the arrivals area it took Majella a few minutes to locate Usha, a former student with whom she has maintained contact and who had promised to pick us up from the airport and take us to a restaurant for a meal of good Indian food. When we did spot Usha, she was accompanied by a friend, Joanne, who had recommended the restaurant we were going to.

A quick sky train transfer to the terminal where Usha had parked and a 30 to 40 minute drive through Singapore traffic brought us to Chat Masala, an Indian restaurant in Hillcrest Park, a prosperous part of the city. Joanne had guests coming and could not stay so once we had ordered Usha drove her home and then returned to join us for the meal. With guidance from Usha we had ordered a variety of dishes to share – spicy chicken Masala, Rogan Gosh spicy lamb, a seafood dish with reduced heat for Majella’s benefit, dhal, biryani (rice with spicy lamb), and garlic naan. We each had water and lassi of various flavours to help with the hot food. The food was flavoursome but Joel and I did not think it was especially hot. Majella thought that even her modified dish was hotter than she would have preferred. Although each of the dishes looked small, the number of them amounted to a good deal  of food and I was not able to contemplate dessert. Majella managed an ice cream dish and Joel had a concoction of ice cream, jelly and brightly coloured fine egg noodles – he enjoyed it.

We had finished dinner with plenty of time to spare – our flight was due to leave just after midnight and we did not need to be back at the airport much before 10:00 pm – so Usha suggested we should see some sights. Majella requested a view of Orchard Road, the shopping area she had tried to get us to on our first night out, and Usha obliged by driving us down the length of that precinct.

Drinking a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar of Raffles Hotel will probably be a once in a life time experience for me. Majella had done it before and Usha is a local but not a frequent visitor to Raffles. Joel drank something that looked similar.

At the end of that we drove by Raffles Hotel. With a little encouragement from Majella, Usha decided that we should park for a better look and, after wandering around the hotel lobby and taking photographs, we landed in the Long Bar where we had Singapore Slings for Majella and me, a dealcoholised look-alike for Joel, and a red wine for Usha. We ate some of the peanuts provided on the table and engaged in the local custom of tossing the shells on the floor.

Usha delivered us back to the airport shortly after 9:30 pm. We found an area with power that I could use with my laptop while uploading web pages and chasing email on the free Internet, and a free terminal that Majella could use to check her email. That kept us occupied until it was time to board.

Despite the post-midnight scheduled departure time and a delay of about 40 minutes to fix an engineering problem, the crew still wanted to feed us shortly after departure. We managed to push some food down on top of the Indian meal and then slept as best we could for the next few hours. About 2 hours before arrival in Brisbane we were wakened for another meal. Then it was last minute preparations, landing, immigration and customs clearance. All of that happened smoothly but it took longer than we thought it should for the shuttle from our long term parking to collect us. It was almost midday by the time we delivered joel home to where Hannah was waiting to greet us. A cup of coffee and we were on our way to Toowoomba which we reached a little after 1:30 pm. By 2:00 pm Majella was at work and I was heading home to do the laundry.