When I touched down at Changi airport I felt a little thrill of happiness. Singapore really is a place I love, and it’s been too long since I was last here. As I walked through the airport to Immigration the familiar sharp damp smell of the humidity hit my nose even through the aircon, and Singapore thoughts started scrolling through my head: Milo and aunties & uncles & la after sentences and The Straits Times and Maggi Mee for breakfast…
The skyline has changed beyond recognition since I was last here maybe seven years ago. As we drove the 30 minutes from the airport to my hotel, the Fairmont, we passed a huge Ferris wheel – the Singapore Flyer, and the Marina Bay Sands building which has a cantilevered cruise ship-shaped bridge across the top of its three gigantic towers.
It’s still very warm (about 31C) and sticky, but it rains almost every day and I find the heat pleasant, although the locals complain incessantly about it. (They always do: when I lived here during a heatwave I just thought it very hot, they thought it was the end of days. I guess the difference is that I expect the heat so I’m never unduly bothered by it. I also don’t have to work in it.)
I just plaster myself in SPF50 faceblock and suncream each morning, make sure my shirts have long sleeves and wear my biggest sunglasses and a hat.
Jet lag has been killing me. I’ve woken twice at 4am and stayed awake, hoofing it at top speed propelled by astonishing hunger to the restaurant at 6am for breakfast, dining in solitary splendour with The Straits Times and inhaling dahl and rice, bee hoon and hoppers. (Why eat boring old eggs when I can eat my way across Sri Lanka, India and Singapore in 39 minutes?) And even more astonishing – I’ve lost 3lbs since I arrived.
Last night tho I powered on past 1030pm (when I have been collapsing) to do an interview for a British newspaper. I fell asleep finally at 130am and woke up at 1130am , so maybe I have conquered it and can go out for a drink after dinner – at last.
Today I’m off for lunch at a Peranakan vegetarian restaurant and then an expedition on the MRT to Kranji in the north of the island to visit the Commonwealth War Memorial. I have been before but I think it’s important to honour the men and women from Britain, Australia, Canada, Sri Lanka, India, Malaya, the Netherlands and New Zealand who gave their lives in WWII.