The rest of our time in Singapore

Despite a two-night hospital stay we still enjoyed the visit to Singapore. We saw as much as we could, especially since we discovered we were there over their independence celebration called National Day. Because of that there were a number of festivities – outdoor markets, performances, and fanfare. It was all quite amazing.

On the day I was discharged we simply took a walk around, went to the marina with public transit, and found some food to eat. Since National Day was going on, these visits were even more spectacular. We found a Hawker food centre that was mostly empty because of the time, but we had some small bits of food to eat. Then, we took the subway to the marina and saw so much beauty in architecture, some performances, and more. There were even a group of bagpipers from a local police squad (it could have been firefighters – I forget).

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The next day we started by spending time at the Botanic Gardens. There were so many amazingly beautiful plants on display. Large trees and an incredible orchid garden that was so extensive.

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We also visited the Singapore Flyer – a huge carousel with observation pods rotating around at a speed of one rotation per half hour. I had never been on anything like it and just loved how we could see everything from afar including buildings, forests, and the sea. I took so many pictures of everything! It was so cool to see all these sites from above – it’s a rarity. While my wife was not so keen to look down I spent a good amount of time just standing by the curved windows. It was awesome!

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That evening we took a riverboat cruise along the former main transit corridor of Singapore. We saw so many buildings lit up at night as well as the iconic Merlion, a beautiful sculpture with the body of a mermaid and head of a lion.

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The next day we visited the Gardens by the bay, a beautiful park right on the Singapore waterfront. There are small rivers, gardens, pieces of forest, performance spaces, and special exhibits there year-round. One could easily spend an afternoon there reading or painting. We decided to visit two sections of the Gardens: the first was the Cloud Forest and the second was the Supertree Grove and Skyway.

What Singapore has done is created a domed enclosure so that plants that normally grow in colder weather with different humidity than the outside can flourish. A mountain-like structure was erected with a beautiful waterfall and so many different colors of flower and other flora grow around it. It is truly a spectacular sight to see. There are art pieces everywhere as well, made from what looked like reclaimed wood. We spent longer inside that we thought we were going to!

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The Supertree Grove was fascinating as well. The artificial trees that were built are of different sizes and have different types of plants built into them. I assume the plants will grow over time and eventually be large enough to go all the way to the top. The pathway between the tall trees was held up by wires from above and seemed to sway slightly as we walked – it was pretty amazing engineering and just a bit scary. At the end of our time in the Gardens we had a small drink at the observation deck at the top of the largest Supertree.

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Lastly, we decided to go to different places for our few hours before the plane. I went to a history museum that touched on all different parts of Singapore’s past. My wife went to the zoo because of the large panda exhibit. Sadly we don’t have any photos because at that time we were trying to fit in as much as we could before we left Southeast Asia. It was a wonderful trip and we can’t wait to go back there!

Review: SilkAir from Lombok to Singapore

I have so many posts in the works I forgot to put this one up before the Singapore post. Here is how we got to Singapore!

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Unfortunately, in the middle of our stay at Cocotino’s Beach Resort I fell quite ill. I think it was some noodles that I ate from the market near Gipsy Beach Bungalows that caused me to get very sick very quickly and so, when I woke up in the middle of night with chills and a fever, my wife brought me to a clinic and they determined that I might have dengue fever (turned out to be untrue later). We quickly made the decision to leave Lombok in search of better medical care in the nation-city of Singapore.

We booked SilkAir tickets quite quickly without regard for price much (although I believe on 4-hours notice the cost was around $275 each one-way inclusive of one free checked bag each) and headed to the airport. the ride was uneventful except that I was feeling sick for most of it. My wife was concerned for me – understandably – and so we made sure to be rested and have plenty of time to get out of the country and closer to better hospitals.

We arrived at the newly-constructed airport about 1.5 hours before our flight was to leave. We were glad to have that buffer time because it took about that much time to get through slow check-in counters and immigration (who were not even set up by the time we got to the gate area).

What really fascinated me was the fact that there was a lounge at the airport. And it took Priority Pass! This is by no means a large airport so when my wife told me that we had access to a lounge I was unbelieving. She convinced me to check it out (this is how you know I was sick – I didn’t want to go at first) and it was quite substantially stocked. It had a number of breakfast food items, pastries, fruits, drinks, and plenty of seats with electrical outlets. The bathrooms were even quite nice and were with Western sit-down toilets (the rest of the airport had squatting toilets to deal with).

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Getting onto the plane was an annoying process in itself, however, as the immigration officials were not at their posts when we arrived. After visiting the lounge we returned to find the desks staffed and we passed through just fine. Then, we had to go through another security check to get into the gate area itself. I have only seen this in a few airports before, but our gate was sealed from the rest of the airport and didn’t even have bathrooms in it. We waited for quite some time for the plane to be readied and then boarded.

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This is where I need to give international regional carriers their due. Despite the fact that the flight was only about two hours in length we still received amazing service – with food, too! The flight attendants were attentive (I was only sort of paying attention but my wife told me later they were) and it was a fairly comfortable ride.

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While it was not the best reason to have to take a flight it was still quite a nice airplane with great service. If the price was right I would take SilkAir again in a heartbeat.

Review: Four Points by Sheraton and our time in a Singapore hospital

Once we arrived in Singapore we debated whether or not to go directly to the hospital or try to rest a little at the hotel. I insisted on the latter since I felt somewhat better and wanted desperately to sleep. So, we took a taxi from the airport to the Four Points by Sheraton (formerly the Riverview Hotel). We had booked on points but had to pay for two extra nights because we arrived early. Not a big deal: we just checked in and saw that the room was the first standard hotel room we had stayed in quite some time. It was unfortunate that we would no longer get beach resorts but it was nice to have elevators, restaurants nearby, and a concierge to helps us out.

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We eventually decided to stay in on our arrival date and visit the hospital the next day. We had asked for advice from several people and my Mom and sister connected with people we knew in Singapore just in case of any needs we had. We decided on visiting Mount Elizabeth Hospital, which turned out to be an amazing provider of healthcare.

After a brief ER visit of only about 2 hours (yes, I know this is almost unheard of in the US) with highly capable doctors and nurses I was referred to an infection disease specialist. He looked at my test results from the ER, ask me a number of questions, and then we decided that I would be admitted to the hospital for at least one night, probably two. This was my first hospitalization so I was probably internally freaking out (I know my wife was, but she was so calm and supportive to me – I really appreciate all she did).

I received some of the best care I’ve ever had while staying there. The infection disease specialist didn’t just refer me to an attending physician – he actually visited me every day. The nurses were kind and helpful; the food was not that bad; I even received an amenity kit of sorts (and slippers!). As you can see from the photos, I also ordered my food on an iPad. Granted, I didn’t want to be there (despite the smile), but they did everything they could to make my stay as comfortable as possible. I was even allowed out for 4 hours with my wife to go see Star Trek: Beyond – with my IV still in!

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In the end I spent two full days at the hospital. My wife stayed over with me for one of them and I slept solo the other (I asked her to go to the hotel to get some rest). The travel health insurance we purchased from GeoBlue was imperative for saving us literally thousands of dollars. As I write this I am awaiting claims that I filed to be processed and reimbursed for other doctor/hospital visits during the trip as well. I was very happy when the doctor finally discharged me. I didn’t have anything longterm of super severe – just some bug that knocked me out for three days.