After braving the crowded and chaotic cities of India it was a relief to be in such a clean and beautiful city as Singapore, also known as the Little Red Dot.
Since the last city on my India tour was Madurai I was able to get a direct flight of only four and a half hours on Air India Express to Singapore’s Changi airport.
I wanted to see my great friend Heather, the clever and fun lady that co-founded this website. She had lived in Singapore for a while so when I discovered it was a quick jump from India I had to make it to see her.
She was there at the airport to greet me. Being met by a friend or family member at any airport in the world is always something I appreciate. It’s not logical but there’s just something about a familiar face there to greet you in the arrivals hall that makes a difference to your peace of mind when you arrive.
We jumped in a taxi to her place and soon we were in her high rise apartment having dinner on her balcony watching the sun set behind the Marina Bay Sands Hotel which was directly in front of her apartment. This hotel is a huge boat in the sky sitting on three massive tower block high rises. It has become a symbol of the city and is a feat of modern architecture but costs more than 400GBP per night minimum per room. It’s for all the indulgences you could crave, and even has the world’s largest Infinity Pool.
Heather is a working mom of two boys so I was left alone to fend for myself. I was behind with work since I had just come off a two week holiday so for the first week I stayed in and caught up. I had booked to stay three weeks in Singapore so there was no rush to see the sights. Heather looks like she’s still twenty, is really good with nutrition and fitness and is a great cook also. Every day she cooked meals and gave me ideas to lose weight. She was really excited about my pregnancy and encouraged me to increase my fitness. I swam every day in her pool and tried to get more in shape.
“You will need to be fit when your baby arrives,” she kept saying. I didn’t understand what she meant then but I do now. Once the baby comes it’s not so easy to go take a dip in the pool or go for a run especially as a single mom.
The next weekend I had some time so I decided to get a Hop on Hop off bus pass and start with seeing Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay which included the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, massive glass bubbles towering in the sky. Inside there are thousands of perfectly manicured exotic plants, flowers, and trees. The rare plants are kept in “perpetual spring” and it takes all day to enjoy these gardens. It is cooler inside the dome which makes it nice to walk around since Singapore can be hot and muggy.
From there I took myself to explore China Town. That afternoon Heather and her husband met me to explore the the ethnic quarters of Kampong Glam, and Little India. It felt like a throw back to colonial times where early immigrants had created their own communities and preserved their cultures. There was a party vibe as the bars and restaurants in the quaint old quarter came alive.
The next week was similar except there was a special occasion, Chinese New Year. Huge and amazing fireworks exploded around the Marina Bay Sands – which we were able to watch for hours from Heather’s balcony. Exploding lights around the boat in the Sky kept reminding me how I wanted to go to Marina Bay. Heather and her husband decided to take me there the next Saturday.
The only way to enjoy the unparalleled views of the city without being an actual guest at the Marina Bay Sands is to book one of its roof top restaurants. Heather booked CÉ LA VI Restaurant. It felt a bit like heaven sitting on the roof top having a Mocktail, watching hotel guests in the infinity pool, looking down at the lights of the city, while enjoying our amazing food too.
There were many people enjoying cocktails on the terrace and music playing, so the party vibe had begun for the night. On leaving we passed the Sands Sky park observation deck a place tourists can go to identify spots around the city from above before visiting.
I already had enjoyed so many nice surprises but towards the end of my stay Heather even booked a surprise trip, just for us two. We took the ferry to a five star hotel in Bintan Utara, Indonesia, for the following weekend. The ferry is modern and clean and it was a short and pleasant crossing into Indonesia. Arriving was truly magical, as a quick walk took us to a beautiful resort in lush forest, where we rode bikes and swam in the sea. The money was so different there that a couple of hundred I USD dollars filled the bed with bills.
The price was very different to Singapore, much cheaper and it got me thinking where I should go once my baby was born. I had a boyfriend who I met at a legal conference who was calling asking when I was back in Europe but from our conversations I could see it was going no where. I hadn’t told him about the pregnancy yet, as figured it would end when I did tell him, and it wasn’t his, so I didn’t expect him to care either.
So the question still remained in my head where I could live that was affordable with a good standard of living and education for my child that I might enjoy also? I love South East Asia, I think it’s an amazing place but that would mean my family in USA would be even further away and my daughters sperm donor wanted to be in her life and is Brazilian and he would be too far away also.
I looked at the wads of money on the bed and realised if it wasn’t for family and my job I would probably live in South East Asia. If not Indonesia then Malaysia or Thailand, since sterling and USD can get one so much more. It brought me back to thinking about Portugal as a compromise since it has cheaper cost of living than London, but was still close to Brussels and London for work events.
I realised I really needed to excel at my job in these months to secure my place and guarantee my future income. I had been struggling to cover Europe from Singapore given the time difference.
I wanted to keep up my travel while getting income from my apartment in London from Airbnb. Airbnb paid my travel costs and mortgage while I also received a salary from remote work, so overall I had been doing well until now. Now I just had to continue getting my remote salary and find a cheaper place to settle.
I imagined settling in Porto buying a small two bed and living well on my London salary. The Portuguese government were also offering NHR, non habitual residency tax wise so I wouldn’t even have to adjust my rate of tax if I did this.
Heather came to get me to go to the breakfast buffet at the hotel and gave me a lesson in nutrition while surveying my food choices. I knew I had to lose weight and eat too many carbs and under her strict eye I actually did!
We travelled back to Singapore, reluctantly leaving paradise.
Leaving Singapore – the Little Red Dot
After visiting the orchid gardens I had seen the main sights of Singapore and it was time to leave, back to colder weather in England.
I imagined this would be my last trip before the baby was born, so lingered in the cab on the way to the airport enjoying the exotic sites and scenery of Singapore. If I won the lottery I would certainly move to Singapore in a heart beat.
Read more about my previous trip whilst pregnant in India.