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Posts Tagged ‘Singapore Airlines’

#FriendlyFiles: Peggy on the Modernity of Singapore

Recently, I traveled with my husband and business partner, Ilan, to explore the wonders of Singapore. Here are some of my thoughts on this incredibly modern and endlessly fascinating destination! 

I have to admit that Singapore, while well known in the travel world as an important Asian tourist destination, had never had a position of great prominence on my personal bucket list. Then, an opportunity to visit Singapore appeared in my inbox one morning, with dates that corresponded perfectly with a planned trip to Japan. So Ilan and I decided to have a look for ourselves.

Peggy and Ilan explore Singapore!

First off, whatever your preconception of Singapore, my advice to you is this: Drop it! This island-country was created by deeply passionate people following their dreams and aspirations. It’s a place that serves as a canvas for its people’s wildest imagination of what’s possible. And although the region has been inhabited for centuries, Singapore is officially a young country, just a tad over 50 years old, and has transformed itself from a sleepy fishing village to a hotbed of innovation in cuisine, architecture, design, nature and so much more.

We flew via Singapore Airlines, SkyTrax’s #2 Airline in the entire world. The experience from economy all the way to first class is meticulously crafted and incredibly well maintained. All of our Singapore tours fly via Singapore Airlines and it is the perfect way to start your vacation and international adventure (seriously, this airline deserves a blog post of its own).

Singapore Airlines

We arrived in Changi airport, the sixth busiest airport in Asia. By far, Changi is among the most beautiful and innovative airports we’ve ever seen, and we’ve been to many. It was to be our introduction, from our first moments in Singapore, to what awaited us over the next six days: magnificent design; function as an element of style; a respect for the environment; attention to clean, aesthetic public spaces, and a super friendly hodgepodge of smiling people from many different countries, all incredibly happy and proud of their heritage and their blended identity.

Marina Bay at Dawn ©Esplanade Theatre Singapore / Flickr

Our hotel, overlooking Singapore’s famous Marina Bay, The Fullerton, offered a front row seat for the nightly laser light performance encompassing all the cultural and touristic buildings around the harbor. Directly in front of us, we couldn’t stop admiring the stunning Marina Bay Sands, a luxury hotel, casino and convention center comprising three elegant towers connected at the top by a structure in the shape of a ship. Tourists and locals alike love going up to the very top to enjoy a drink at Spago and ogle the views to die for.

In Singapore, design is king, and the Art Science Museum at Marina Bay Sands embodied for us the essence of creativity in architecture. The museum, which resembles a huge, open hand, features exhibits and frequent programs which strive to illustrate and illuminate the relationship of art, science and technology and the world we share. To Ilan and me, the aesthetic of the building symbolized all of that and more, even if just from the outside.

Gardens by the Bay © Mac Qin Singapore / Flickr

Another site that left us awestruck was the Gardens by the Bay, a magnificent nature park of reclaimed land, consisting of three waterfront gardens that balance sustainability, a huge array of horticultural specimens and impressive architectural design. There are plants and flowers from around the world, a 35-meter man-made waterfall, a cloud forest and even a canopy walk, and then, just as you think it can’t get any better, you arrive at the Supertree Grove, where you stand in awe of the man-made trees of metal and light that come to life twice an evening in a Garden Rhapsody of sight and sound.

Recently, Anthony Bourdain, the chef turned TV travel guru, aired a segment from Singapore. He said that whenever he thinks of food, he thinks of Singapore. And it’s true that Singapore, that tiny city-state that would fit neatly into half of Los Angeles, features a dazzling array of culinary delights. In fact, in 2016 Singapore became only the fourth Asian country, and the first Southeast Asian country, to receive a Michelin Guide. The country boasts 29 restaurants with at least one Michelin star, including six with two stars and even one highly coveted three star Michelin restaurant. You can even eat the world’s cheapest Michelin star meal at the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle hawker stall. Of course, that’s just the start of Singapore’s acclaimed street food scene.

Singaporean Food © Alpha, Luca Boldrini, Gabriel Garcia Marengo / Flickr

In all honesty, the beauty, artistry and aesthetic grace of Singapore left us wondering if there was a more beautiful city anywhere on earth. And having now spent a week exploring, we can definitely understand why curious travelers from the USA and from all over the world are visiting in ever growing numbers. There’s plenty to see, do, explore and enjoy, and we’re ready to go again, and hopefully soon.

P.S. Keep an eye out for a future post where I elaborate on the opposite side of the coin: how you can discover the deep history and traditional culture of Singapore on your next visit. And don’t forget to check out all of our Singapore packages right here.

#FriendlyFiles follows Friendly Planet’s adventurous staff as they travel the world. It is crucial that our team experiences first-hand the sites, hotels, food and transportation so that we know exactly how the trip will feel for our travelers—and to help us as we strive to provide experiences, not sightseeing!

Japan update: Travel news and ways you can help

Since my last update on Japan, I’m happy to report that our representatives in Tokyo are safe. We also have been in contact with our airline partners, Singapore Airlines, who have extended the deadline to cancel flights to Japan without penalty from March 20 to April 10.

That means insurance coverage is guaranteed only through April 10. However, I believe this deadline will be pushed back, as the nuclear emergency in Japan has complicated things.

So in order to make sure our travelers don’t suffer unnecessary penalties for canceling their April 19 departure or later for the Japan Panorama tour, which is not yet protected by waivers from suppliers, we’re not making any changes or canceling any tours at this time.

If you’re on our April 19 Japan Panorama departure, we’ve already contacted you with a list of options to choose from at this time, including booking another Friendly Planet Travel destination or a later Japan departure date.

Once we have a better sense of damage to the particular regions visited on the Japan Panorama itinerary, we will be better able to determine how to proceed. I want to assure you that we will act in your best interests. Flip back to my previous post to get more details about this decision.

Amid this disaster that has reshaped Japan physically, it’s clear that the Japanese people are methodical, strong, and united. One journalist I heard this morning on the BBC spoke of spending the night in a standing apartment in a village in the earthquake zone.

The family who lives there has no electricity, water, phone service, and very little food. Despite this, the journalist was welcomed warmly and invited to share whatever meager resources the family had. The journalist was surprised by the lack of hysteria and the stoic, calm attitude of the people she has met.

I’m not surprised. I’ve been working with the Japanese for years and know that they will recover and emerge from this better and stronger than before. That is just how they are as a people. For example, our representatives in Japan expressed their gratitude at having been spared the worst of the earthquake and the tsunami, but are worried about people in the worst impacted areas. Their message to me ended with this stoic line: “We will fight this tragedy together and recover, for sure.”

This is just one of the reasons why people — especially those of us who value independence, strength of character, and the ability to look ahead and work toward a better future — will not cancel, but postpone travel to Japan. And, at the first possible moment, they will make a beeline to be among the first to witness the recovery.

Friendly Planet Travel is looking for the best ways to help the Japanese people at this terrible time. We will get back to you with some suggestions for places to send donations that assure the help gets through quickly and to those who need it the most.

In the meantime, we are recommending Doctors Without Borders as a good place to send donations. They are very active in the Japanese recovery and have indicated they will need special funding to handle the crisis. I’ll continue to post updates to the blog, Facebook, and Twitter about the situation in Japan.