The Palm Society Biennial picked up again with a day at the Gardens by the Bay. We had a gentle walk over from the hotel to garden where we were welcomed by the Director and then taken for tours of the gardens and the conservatories and given a wonderful lunch.
The gardens which were started in November 2007 show and imaginative design and for those of us from more temperate climate have everything the wrong way round… the conservatories are for cool and dry climate plants, have displays of tulips and irises at various times of the year. Such cool climate plants are exotic for the people of Singapore, while the plants that I would consider exotic are all outside and two a penny.
The day was fantastic, but the threat of rain was ever present… at the end of the day we were not disappointed and the heavens opened and the rain and wind came in…
With 150 people to get on 2 flights and all their baggage and all their extra baggage as a number had bought souvenirs, this was not going to be an easy operation. However our travel company was up for the challenge and the bus which was full, did not have enough space in boot, and so an extra van had be got at short notice…. The first bus having left before 7:00 left the next group the leave at 7:30..
Loading was quickly done, and we were on our way. The baggage did follow and managed to catch us up at KCH airport much to the relief of a lot of the delegates.
Checkin was a bit chaotic with security searches going on and very little space to check in and family trying to say good bye to loved ones as they went to pass through the security before checking in… but it all worked its self out int he wash.
Through checkin it was time to get out of Malaysia and have our passports stamped again as we leave the country… The queue for this was very long and very slow… and as ever with these things you think you have joined the shortest queue but it takes twice as long to process each person as all the other queues. Eventually we were through and had enough time to buy some gin in the duty free shop before passing to the Malaysian Airlines lounge, which afforded us a comfortable place to have a cup of coffee before it was time to go and board our flight to Singapore
MH 643 KCH – SIN
Arriving at at SIN we had to wait till the local agents managed to find us and get the buses to us etc. It was not as smooth as things had been when we arrived in KCH… However we were soon in two large air conditioned buses heading to the Marina Bay Sands. The arrival at this hotel was very spectacular with a bus terminal in the basement of the hotel we were offloaded and made our way up to reception quickly… however checkin was slow… but once assigned our room I asked for the porter to bring our bags up as I was on my own… with the the baggage of two people.
So having sorted the room and having relaxed for a bit I decided that I really did need to go and run… so with a 12 km route round the marina and bay which not to difficult to get lost on I set out… It was simple navigation… the only problem was for most of the run I really need to clear my throat … which is tricky in a country where spitting is forbidden!!!
The run while tough in the humidity of Singapore was great. However after the run I was a melting blob and the dripped the whole way from the hotel’s Main entrance to Tower 3 and then up in the lift to our room…
It was then time to go and check out the iconic pool this hotel has. So a trip up to the 59th floor, and I found friends from the conference there, who were sitting by the pool, with Singapore Slings… I did not do much swimming but instead enjoyed the view and the Singapore sling ;-).
Business Class Seats 02A & 02C
Boarding was once again a quick affair as we were all sitting in a “holding pen” having already shown our boarding passes. We had got a bit more used to this system and positioned ourselves in pole position… We had also go used to the movements of the staff with heralded that start of boarding.
On board we found a seats quickly and stowed the hand-baggage and again watch the rest of the passengers pass by to a very full economy class. All aboard we pushed back and headed out to runway 25 and left Borneo behind, flying west towards Singapore.
We were offered “Chicken Pancake”, Seafood Pasta, or Salmon, between us we took the Seafood Pasta and the Chicken Pancake, both of with were very tasty.. but the option of 3 hot dishes on a 1h30 is something I am not used to with offerings of BA and the like on the intra-europe flights I normally take. Other comparisons, always being addressed by name, and the seats where were wide comfortable and had a good amount of legroom. However the planes have a fixed configuration with only 16 business class seats.
The flight was quick and smooth and soon we were lining up to land at Singapore on runway 20C and on to Gate F 34 where we quickly allowed to disembark.
Kuching, the cat city had lots of great things to go and see during our day off… There was the Orchid Garden, the State Legislature, Fort Margherita, the Cat Museum, and the layer cake shop.
So after a leisurely breakfast and some quick organisation to send some clothes to the laundry we set off with our friends in 2 taxis to visit as many sites as we could in the city of Kutching. We started with the Orchid Garden, and then the on to look at the “White Rajah’s” house. Tony and Jim had us on a tight itinerary and we were able to enjoy the brief stops at each point. But it was a fast pace.. the taxi meters were running all the time.. so next to Fort Margherita and the Cat Museum… Yes a cat museum. The city is named Kuching which means cat in the local Malay dialect.. so the city has a museum dedicated to cats.. everything from art to statues to children’s toys to movie posters… etc. it was very eclectic…
The best bit of the day was the stop at the layer cake shop, where we could sample some the cakes before we bought one for afternoon tea… oh how British… but they were good they even had durian flavoured cake!!!
The biggest challenge of the day was to find somewhere to have lunch… a lot of places were shut as it was the Muslim holy month of Ramadan… however we had a rather large lunch in our hotel, in their Chinese restaurant.
The afternoon was taken a lot slower pace, as well as organising our stuff before our move to Singapore the next day