Cleanliness and wow factor

Thursday, October 17, 2013
Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
Leaving Bali meant leaving the last tastes of anything resort-oriented behind for the trip. No more beaches, no more tourist-oriented budget massages. As we left the hotel, ladies from our massage shop across the street waved goodbye. From here on out I felt we would be increasingly in the adventurous leg of Southeast Asia.

The adventure began as we were ready to depart . On the drive to the general aviation terminal, our handling agent told us that customs wasn't happy that we didn’t have prior arrival notice, so each plane was going to have to pay a hefty fine. They also planted two huge stickers on each planes’ doors to make sure we couldn’t easily enter. We paid all the fees, but the stickers didn’t go away. Everyone was extremely annoyed about the stickers, particularly one PC12 with some elaborate stencil work on the outside. How dare they touch Maggie!

We were then also cleared for a departure that wasn’t in our database. We were designated the first to start and I had to frantically manually enter lat/long coordinates for points so that we could depart. It was just frustrating in the heat and humidity and knowing other planes were behind us (with the same problem, also frantically entering in the GPS points). Aside from that, the flight was smooth. We had a few instances of clouds, but for the most part were above the layers .

One by one all the planes in our group passed us far overhead. For some reason both Johannes and I were very tired so took turns enjoying the uneventful cruise and closing our eyes. About the only excitement was when we crossed back over the equator. We filmed the GPS as the coordinates went from south to north. Big excitement ;-). We could though hear from those arriving that there were areas of cloud buildup around Singapore, and that they were getting vectors around the storm clouds. At some point the flight would get more interesting. Singapore also has 4 airports in very close proximity, so we needed to make sure we hit the right one.

Indeed the clouds did come, as did the increase in radio chatter in such busy airspace. We got around some clouds, but there wasn’t avoiding everything. Johannes sat left and did a great job of flying through the clouds for someone not rated to do so. I was there to help or takeover if needed, manned the radios, and double-checked things as we followed the controllers’ vectors and instructions . It was great fun. We came clear of the clouds, spotted the airport, and Johannes put Maggie down smoothly.

Our handling group was Wings Over Asia and not only they were waiting for us upon arrival, but also the avgas truck. That’d happened to us all of one time outside the US and Australia, in Naha, Japan. How crazy to not have to wait hours for refueling! Some of the WOA club members were also there and curious to hear about our travels. It was fun talking shop with some of them as we refueled. We knew we’d have a long leg ahead of us to Myanmar, and then an additional couple hours flight to Bangladesh where we could once again get our precious avgas. Maggie was more than full by the time we were done.

Singapore couldn’t be more different than Bali. The highways were immaculate and everything was as spotless as you hear about. No litter, no one spitting, everyone driving in their lane. Even our car had wifi. It was a pleasant reprieve, but also a bit too spotless . There certainly was no Berlin grime or subculture here, at least that we could see. While the others were staying at the extremely nice Marina Sands Hotel, we opted for another hotel just a short distance away. This saved us one decimal place on the bill ;-). We couldn’t complain, as our hotel was also great and more than did the trick.

It was another long day so we grabbed food nearby in a converted church complex with numerous bars and restaurants. To close out the night we went to the top floor (70th) of our hotel for a drink at the bar. The view was spectacular and the music pumping. It reminded me of a Las Vegas New Year’s. Incredible. Apparently New Asia is ranked one of the 50 best clubs/bars in the world. I don’t know, but I was impressed. The views (and the prices) were world-class.

The following day I had to cringe, but we wanted to do a bus tour. I looked in to bike tours, but they were either too early (8:30!) or too late (4:00pm) . Fortunately the tour was considerably better than the one in Tokyo. We saw some interesting diversity to the city, which at first I didn’t assume existed. The tour touched on some interesting social topics which I’ll enjoy finding out more about when I have more time: the large number of migrant workers, all the social housing, reclaiming the land, the intense socialism coupled with an aggressive pro-business attitude. It all seemed to work for this small island.

We continued exploring how expensive Singapore is by having a tasty Singapore Sling in the original bar where it was invented. From there it was off to a National Geographic photography exhibit (inspiring) before meeting the rest of the group for drinks at their hotel. Once there, Rudy, the owner of one of the PC12s, took us up to the rooftop pool area of the Marina Sands Resort. Wow! It blew us away. On the one side you had the infinity pool overlooking the sprawling downtown. On the other side you had the bustling harbor and reclaimed park land . It was so incredibly impressive. I had to laugh at how puny everything in Dallas and Berlin is in comparison.

The Wings Over Asia group had lined up a group dinner for us at one of their favorite fish restaurants. Everything is too fresh for my liking, still swimming in visible aquariums. Gregory, one of the WOA group, filled us in on some interesting tidbits of life in Singapore, such as the 150% sales tax on vehicles, the cost of living in the city, toll road fees based on demand/traffic, the massive air force presence, and other interesting tidbits. My appreciation for Singapore rose. It’s a super interesting place that’s too sterile for me to live in, but that I’d really like to come back to visit.

Routing from Bali (WADD) to Singapore Seletar (WSSL): 

SBR PKP TPG RABU BLI but given the BATUR1B departure and then M635 the whole way at FL140. Flight time was 6h45m.
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