By Steve Danishek and Dee Tezelli
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
If you have frequent flyer mileage banked and never seem to get a break to redeem them, to travel to an extraordinary destination, Singapore is the place for you!
Alaska Airlines recently announced their mileage partnership with Singapore Airlines, so Alaska miles can get you mileage seats on Emirates via Dubai, Japan Airlines via Tokyo, and soon on Singapore via San Francisco. With the current international airfare war across the Pacific, the discounted coach fares start in the $700-$800 range. No visas are required for U.S. passport holders.
Pack a carry on and go. Do not shop before the trip. Singapore is a shopping mecca, a bargain shopping paradise.
As a destination, Singapore is in the big leagues, yet comfortable, affordable, very easy to navigate, friendly, and culturally diverse. Singapore is welcoming from the moment you land at Changi Airport. Whiz through customs and immigration formalities, and choose between taxis and the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and bus system to reach just about any point on the island. Our late night taxi ride from the airport through downtown to Sentosa Island was only $33 SGD, about $25 USD.
Tourist brochures and maps are abundant at the airport, too.
As a former British territory, English is widely spoken and written everywhere. Malay and Chinese influences are well demonstrated as well. Everywhere you go and everything you see is an interesting and appealing blending of cultures, languages, and customs, all interacting without obvious conflict. If Seattle looks at its future, it would serve them well to try to look as much like Singapore as possible. There is a lot for us to learn there.
Singapore’s MRT is a marvel of a subway system, stitching all of the major population and business areas seamlessly together.
We were struck by how efficiently organized the city and island are — no wasted space or time. Moving around Singapore is a breeze. Add the buses and off you can go anywhere.
Singapore has a reputation as a major world commercial center and it clearly is that. Its financial success is reflected in the quality of its infrastructure, buildings, and attractions. The needs of residents are respected. We never saw a homeless person, no one begging, no drug use (it’s illegal and strictly enforced), no shabbiness. Even what few vacant lots there were are cleared and mowed.
Even with its warmth and class, Singapore is filled with sightseeing and amusement activities. Really.
I’m tempted to call Singapore a magical tropical island that combines city life in an almost Disneyland setting. It is not just a joyful ride in paradise, it is also the cleanest island Republic on this planet, enjoyed by hardworking and motivated people of all generations living in total harmony.
My husband and I just returned from our week-long stay, custom planned with frequent mileage, at the Amara Sanctuary Hotel and Resort located on Sentosa Island, which is an extension of the main island nation. Sure, it is a bit pricier than downtown, but the location is resort-like and the island is filled with entertainment options — Universal Studios, its own monorail, bus systems, and cable cars and many rides, beaches and entertainment venues, even the historic Fort Siloso. Sentosa Island is connected to Vivo City Center, Singapore’s largest shopping complex, and the Harbour Front MRT station and its five color-coded subway routes. The Amara Sanctuary Resort also operates its own free shuttle bus to and from Vivo city and the MRT station.
You may get lost in Waikiki, but never in Singapore!
We give the Amara Sanctuary Resort high marks in all categories. It gave us the real feel of a tropical resort with convenient accessibility to all of Singapore’s sites and attractions. The most gorgeous male peacock that stood guard on our patio door 24/7 came with the compliments of the Amara Sanctuary Resort. With the warning of the travel brochures, we remained on the lookout for monkeys, but none came forward to meet us. Outside, enjoy the hotel’s lush jungle green landscape and with a less than 10 minute walk, you can be on the sparklingly clean golden sands of Siloso and Palawan beaches. The cable car station can take you up to the island’s highest point and exotic park of Mount Faber is also located on the way.
Words fail me every time I try to describe our delightful experience there. I refer to Singapore as Paradise Lost and Found.