Possibly for the first time ever both Sanjay and I were ready almost half an hour before we needed to leave. It was only because we had the time wrong and the minibus was due half an hour after we thought it was coming. So we, with kids and luggage, was ready and waiting when the minibus arrived. We then went and picked up Emma, Brendan and baby Maddie and headed off to the airport.
The flight was easier than expected. I was all super-mum prepared with little surprises for Asher in labelled brown paper bags (clever internet people suggest wrapped gifts, I'm not super-mum enough to wrap things, but I can arrange brown paper bags and some sticky tape) and NOT ONE of my carefully prepared treats got used. To help keep the kids ears from hurting we gave Asher a lollipop on take-off which he was only allowed to open when we were in the air and Emma and I breastfed the babies as soon as we felt the urge to pop our own ears. I had made the mistake previously of taking the suggestion to breastfeed 'on take-off' too literally and I wasn't caught out this time.
We landed in Singapore about 8:30 and there was a driver waiting for us who took us to Tim and Jen's place while the others went to their hotel. Asher went straight to sleep while we had a gin and tonic before heading to bed.
We all got up early and met Emma, Brenden and Maddie at Singapore Zoo and had 'Breakfast with the Orang Utans' which was just awesome. Big hotel-style buffet breakfast with the Orang Utans sitting only metres away, with a talk about the animals and a photo op. We spent the rest of the morning at the zoo and we were all really impressed, despite being regular visitors to Taronga - the animals look happy and well cared for (lots of interesting things for them to play with, like Taronga) but the really cool part was how well the enclosures were designed, making me feel like I was walking through the jungle encountering animals.
After the zoo we were all tired and hungry and caught taxis to a nearby Indian place that Tim and Jen have eaten at before (delicious!) before heading back to the apartment(/hotel for the others) for a rest and a shower before heading out for Chilli Crab.
Monday was a public holiday in Singapore so Tim had the day off. Since Kiran had suffered a bit in the heat the day before I wanted to hit one of the big air conditioned malls that Singapore is famous for. We went to one that specialised in kids things and browsed while Tim and Jen took Asher off for a play in a big toy shop and a haircut!
In the afternoon we went to a place not far from Tim and Jen's apartment that has big tanks where one can hire a rod and fish for prawns. But that was just a side-attraction for us - we went for the 'toothless fish foot spa' where you put your feet in large tiled tanks and little fish come and nibble off the dead skin. It was hard going getting our feet in and watching the tiny fish chomp away but once they were in, if you stopped thinking about it, it was OK. There was no doubt that our feet and lower legs felt smoother afterwards.
In the later afternoon we went and had a sunset cruise on the river and took a walk near the Merlion and the 'Durian' on our way to Gluttons Bay for dinner. Unfortunately it started to rain so instead of going to Glutton's Bay we ended up going to a rather touristy pizza place. Nice pizza, beer and best of all Asher came and snuggled onto my lap and went to sleep. Because the kids were all asleep we went back to Emma and Brendan's hotel room so Emma and I could take Jen for a drink. The boys stayed with the kids and had a drink on the balcony (or would have, if baby Maddie had been more settled).
Our last full day in Singapore. breakfast at a the hawker centre near Tim and Jen's place, then an attempt at Orchard Rd shopping. Asher wasn't really into this idea and for the first time during the trip started to drive me crazy so Jen and I headed toward little India with Kirin (via Starbucks and some more browsing on Orchard Rd) and Sanj took Asher back to the apartment (via a wine shop). We ended up looking at gold in the Mustafa centre for a bit but having to head back before buying anything or getting to Little India proper. On Tuesday night we packed and then Tim and Jen prepared a lovely dinner at home for all of us.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday
We headed to the ferry terminal early Wednesday morning for the boat to Bintan Island Club Med. Jen had helped us get a really good deal and it turned out to be a really awesome experience. Club Med are, perhaps obviously, really well set up for kids. If you book with a baby you get 'baby toiletries' (powder and baby oil) in your room along with a cot, sterilizer and baby bath. Because we had a preschooler as well we had an adjoining room for the little ones.
We spent the next few days jumping in the pool, hanging out at the beach bar, going for a kayak, drinking iced coffee in the panorama bar (the one with a view), sitting beside the pool drinking mocktails/cocktails, eating gigantic buffet breakfast/lunch/dinner, getting a massage and lounging in our rooms (in the aircon) reading.
Asher spent two afternoons at kids club (Petite Club Med for 2-4 year olds) which we sold to him as 'holiday kindy' and therefore, just like regular kindy, something that's just gotta happen. He cried a bit when Sanj left him the first day, but was a lot better the second day - which means the experience can't have been too bad.
All too soon it was time for the ferry back to Singapore, a visit to some family friends and then a night at the very lovely airport hotel for our 5am check in the next day.
Again, apart from the 5am check in check in, the trip home was perfect. Asher was a better behaved than anyone can reasonably expect from a three year old on a seven hour flight - he sat quietly in his seat and listened to music, stuck stickers in his sticker book and played 'memory' with Sanjay. When we got home my brother Michael had cleaned up and brought supplies and after a quick dinner and a load of washing we all went to bed early, thinking what a fabulous trip we'd had.
We would happily travel with Emma, Brendan and Maddie again and we would all love to go to Club Med again. Singapore was also more interesting than expected and we really needed another two days there at least - to see Singapore and to hang out with Tim and Jen a bit more (I was sad I didn't get to have a beer and a chat with Tim - whenever we were together he was wrangling Asher!).
(more photos, of course, on Flickr)