I walked past an empty lounge and internet stations. The place was bigger especially that I arrived past midnight. And even though I was looking for Transfer E lounge, I was not not in a hurry. I cannot go anywhere at this time of the day.
Changi Airport as I remember it in 2009 was lined with luxurious shops and perfumed with sweet expensive scent. It had been improved, beautified and it was nothing short of amazing. I looked around and saw airport courtesy transports moving slowly around carpeted floors. Few meters from the gates I saw a well arranged garden, massage chairs, and few open shops.
At the transfer desk the airline staff scanned my passport, looked at me briefly and smiled. She’s Filipina, she told I can sleep and wait for the free Singapore Tour to open in the morning. She then pasted a sticker at the cover of my passport I smiled back and said thank you.
I made my way at the telephone booth, dialed my friend’s number told her I am on a 21-hour layover and she agreed to meet me at lunch.
The free Singapore tour is a first come first served basis. If you have at least 6 hours between flights I would highly recommend it.
I registered at the podium, presented my passport and was asked to wait and not to go anywhere. A few minutes later the guy at the booth called me, he sounded mad. I wasn’t paying attention. In my head I needed a shower and a good cup of coffee.
We were handed a sheet to present to the immigration. We were allowed to exit the airport immediately without questions. My passport was stamped and the rest of us followed our tour guide.
On our way to the Merlion Park we passed by residential buildings, the Lotus-Shaped museum, Esplanade theater, Singapore flyer and the F1 Grand Prix park.
We had 20 minutes in the park. I walked towards our tour guide. He was seated facing the crowd, he leaned slightly resting on his left arm while a cigarette to his right.
He put off the cigarette when he saw me approaching. I said I was curious about the buildings. He said those low cost HBD condominiums were built by the government to prioritize Singaporean and permanent residents.
Marina Bay Sands and Universal studios were not even built when I first set foot in that city in 2007. Manila Bay sands was visible from where were were but it wasn’t part of the tour. Marina Bay Sands was built on a reclaimed land.
Adjacent to the Merlion Park was the Fullerton hotel. We walked along the Singapore river. The streets were vibrant and full of tourist. The stores along the river were beautiful at night and you can even ride a boat for river cruise.
I met my friends for lunch, went to another friend’s house for a quick shower and headed back to the airport.
Excited kids played around the hall and passengers bound for Gold Coast were seated at the gates waiting for our flight announcement.
My realization is this – when the government is truly honest with its people they’ll build better place for its citizen and the rest of the world can even benefit from it. I would love to spend more weeks to hop on and off every train and bus and explore the city.