Singapore – round two!
Day 3,487 since October 10th 2013: 201 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic!
(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).
Ten days in Singapore with ultra-wifey
The Garden City is a mighty fine country which has plenty to offer and we took advantage. Ten days is a good amount of time for a visitor. It is good to be back.
Last week’s entry: Returning to Singapore on MV Rabaul Chief – passenger no. 1
Singapore is a country! Let’s get that out of the way. I recently heard that some people are unsure about that. I know! Who? Well, on August 9th 1965, Singapore separated from Malaysia to become an independent and sovereign state. And what a fine City State it is. One of only three in the world with the others being the Vatican and Monaco. As a Danish Dane from Denmark, you will ordinarily be given a 90-day-stay on arrival and do not need to bother with visas. As such I figured that I would never have any issues entering the country. Alas, as I left Swire Shipping’s good ship Rabaul Chief and walked down the boardwalk at Marina South Pier and made my way to ICA (Immigration & Checkpoints Authority), I found myself in for a surprise. I was registered as “crew” and not “passenger” or “supernumerary”. The ICA lady within her tiny booth told me that they could only give me 7 days and that I would have to leave Singapore through the airport or by joining another ship. When I questioned if I could cross the land border to Malaysia and reenter Singapore the answer was: "no, you have to leave Singapore through the airport or join another ship!” Good stuff? It wasn’t long before I got to speak to a more senior ICA employee who took my passport, went to an office in the back, and returned with: “do you want the bad news or the good news first?” I opted for the bad news first and that was that my status as “crew” could not be changed within the ICA system. The good news was that they would allow me to cross the border to Malaysia, turn around and reenter Singapore, and then have 90-days as a tourist. After another 15-minutes I was told that I now had 90-days and did not need to travel to Malaysia and back. So, it all ended well. This wasn’t my first border crossing ;) But you see…it’s never just straight forward…
The Garden City. Don't let this fool you. It is VERY green!!
When ultra-wifey touched down at Changi Airport in Singapore it became her 26th visit to see me during the Saga. It also works out to be across 26 countries. We feel privileged to have so many experiences together. I haven’t done the numbers yet but based on a two-week average per visit it adds up to more than a year together over the past 9.5 years. When we are together, I try to block out everything else so that we can have as much time as possible. That means less social media, few or no interviews, few or no speaking engagements, few or no meetings etc. We have had a great time together in Singapore which is a phenomenal country with so much to offer. More than plenty for ten days that’s for sure. Ultra-wifey and I talked about how well-suited Singapore would have been for a two-year forced Covid-19 stay? I reckon it would have been pretty good but I lucked out with Hong Kong which I value higher due to its larger size and its mountainous nature. Singapore scores some points as you can easily make your way to Indonesia by boat or cross the land border to Malaysia. Singapore is even more than a food mecca than Hong Kong so that is a plus too. Overall ultra-wifey and I found many similarities between Hong Kong and Singapore. Far more than I saw between Singapore and Hong Kong. But I guess that two years in Hong Kong will give you a different perspective on Singapore when you return after nearly four years.
I’m definitely in favor of Singapore and could see myself living in the Garden City. Unfortunately, I hear that living costs (especially rental) has gone up to levels so high that many see no other solution other than to move. More than a hundred thousand people have left Hong Kong in recent years and many came to live in Singapore. It now seems that some will be returning to Hong Kong. Singapore is mainly made up out of people of Chinese descent (about 75%) but is truly multi ethnic with the rest made up by primarily Indian and Malay decent. Buddhism makes up the primary religion (around 30%) and “no religion” accounts for around 20%. Islam is estimated to make up 15-16% which made the resent end of the Ramadan celebration (Eid al Fitr) delightfully noticeable across Singapore. Lots of good food and good spirits. Eid Mubarak to my Muslim friends out there. Ultra-wifey and I met up with my friend Bjarke, his lovely (highly pregnant) wife KJ, their precious daughter, and their friend Brian. Together we had brunch at Symmetry just around the corner from Sultan Mosque which is a preserved historical mosque from 1824. Bjarke encouraged Ultra-wifey and I to return to Arab Street in the evening but we never managed. Would have been nice though. We did however manage a lot of other stuff and here’s a list:
- The Merlion
- Visited ICA (to confirm my 90 days in Singapore)
- Hawker centers. Many, many hawker centers
- General city sightseeing
- Couple jacuzzi spa retreat
- Singapore Zoo, Mandai
- Spectra - A Light & Water Show (Marina Bay)
- Running in Fort Canning Park
- Lunch w Bjarke and co
- National Museum of Singapore
- Cloud Forest
- Gardens by the Bay
- Flower Dome
- Dance of Tulips on Water (music/artistic show)
- Garden Rhapsody show (Gardens by the Bay)
- Hiking MacRitchie Nature Trail & Reservoir Park
- Tree top walk
- Cinema / John Wick 4
- Running along Singapore River
- Hanging out in the pool
- Lunch w Ole and co
- Speaking engagement at the Danish Seamen’s Church / DABS
- ArtScience Museum
- Botanical Garden
- Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (old growth rain forest)
- Bukit Timah Summit (highest point in Singapore)
- Sushi train
- Sentosa Island (incl. the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia)
- Universal Studios Singapore
- Breakfast with Anita
- Fountain of Wealth, Suntec City (1998 GWR largest fountain)
- Foot and neck massage
- Dinner w Thomas and co
- Atlas Bar
- Cultural Experience with Food Tastings
- HSBC Rain Vortex (Jewel)
Lunch with the Sander's: Marcia, Ole and Seb! :) I met Ole in Hong Kong.
Breakfast with the one and only Anita Vogel!! We met in Hong Kong.
Dinner and drinks with Mr. Thomas (the legend) Söderberg, Clara and Soeren. I met Mr. Thomas in Hong Kong. Are you starting to see a pattern? ;)
Yeah! We’ve been busy and active. We even nearly made it through season one of Ted Lasso. On average we have walked more than 16km (10mi) every day. The weather was mostly fine although often with showers in the afternoon. Some thunder and lightning. It is Singapore :) Ultra-wifey and I are going strong as a couple and with my homecoming being (perhaps) less than three months away we have begun to get into the nuts and bolts of what we want life to be like together. The Saga is once again collaborating with Maersk! This time in getting the logistics and bureaucracy of the final two countries plus the journey home to fall into place. While nothing is confirmed yet there is a good chance that both Sri Lanka and the Maldives will become a reality within May 2023 and I might very well see Denmark for the first time since 2013 by July 2023. How crazy is that?!
The Danish Seamen's Church in Singapore is a landmark building.
The upcoming week I’ll be busy with meetings and speaking engagements. The following four speaking engagements have been confirmed for next week: 1880 Singapore, Elite International Logistics Singapore Pte Ltd, UWC South East Asia, and Maersk Singapore Pte Ltd. Looking forward to all of them. The talk at 1880 Singapore is an open event with limited seats left so if you are in Singapore and want to come and hear me share my stories then you are welcome to RSVP with their reception team via WhatsApp at +65 96481880. I already had the pleasure of speaking before some sixty wonderful people at the Danish Seamen’s Church in Singapore. I was fortunate to get a job at the Danish Seamen’s Church in Hong Kong during the pandemic and now feel a personal connection to the Danish Seamen’s churches. I spoke at the Seamen’s Church in Singapore back during the Saga’s first visit in 2019 and during January 2020 I spoke at the one in Hong Kong. About twelve months later I was mopping the floor where I had earlier stood. That’s a lesson in humility. We’re not sure how many Danes are in Singapore but it could be around 1,500. The Danish Seamen’s Church in Singapore has been supporting seafarers and Danes since 1985 and continues to do a fine job at that. Thanks to Jacob Egede Andersen (Danish Business Association of Singapore), Reverend Carl Bjarkam (Danish Seamen’s Church in Singapore), and Ole Sander (Elite International Logistics Singapore Pte Ltd) for organizing.
Together with Jacob Egede Andersen of DABS after the talk :)
That’s about it people. With ultra-wifey back in Denmark Singapore feels a little emptier and my first breakfast after she left was somewhat lonely. I have high hopes that I will be seeing her towards the end of next month as we reach the final country. Logistics, bureaucracy and persistence! That should be my coat of arms. It looks like we are finally getting there.
"Parting is such sweet sorrow".
I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross Energy / Geoop
If you enjoyed this blog or find that I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga welcomes funding. Thank you :)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - we've come far together!
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga