We were up shortly after 7.00 a.m. so that we could make the most of our final day in Singapore. Breakfast in the hotel’s Crystal Cafe had been good all week and it ended on a high with my favourite roti prata and bread and butter pudding both being included in the morning’s selection. Reluctantly we then returned to our room to finish our packing, leaving our luggage with the concierge to collect later in the day.
As regular readers of my blog will know, I love visiting toy museums and discovering that there was one in Singapore, I was keen to add it to my every growing list. I had contacted MINT – The Singapore Museum of Toys prior to leaving home and was delighted to be offered a personal guided tour with the museum’s curator. The nearest MRT station was City Hall just a five minute walk away from the museum.
The museum’s displays are spread over six levels, each with its own theme containing around 8,000 items from its vast collection of over 50,000 toys, games and memorabilia. On arrival we were greeted in the entrance lobby and taken by lift to the top floor which doesn’t focus on toys but instead is home to the museum’s enamel sign gallery and roof top bar. Adorning the walls are enamel advertising signs which were common between the 1880’s and 1950’s featuring well known brands such as Campbell’s soup and Lipton’s tea. Glancing through the windows of the bar, there were some good views over the district’s rooftops.
Continuing downstairs, over the next 75 minutes we were introduced to the toy museum’s private collection most of which is on display in glass cabinets. Many of the toys are in mint condition, hence the museum’s name, and these items are displayed alongside their original boxes and packaging.
Each floor is dedicated to a theme starting with outer space where exhibits ranged from Japanese produced robots to early Star Wars figures. I particularly liked the gallery dedicated to well loved characters which are still popular today and where we came across Tintin and his adorable dog, Snowy. It was like taking a wander down memory lane viewing so many toys, dolls, teddy bears and Disney characters and having the benefit of a guided tour meant we were able to learn about the history and cultural significance of the museum’s highlights.
Our tour ended in the basement which contains the other half of the enamel sign gallery we had viewed on the top floor. A further 70 antique signs line the walls creating a retro theme in the museum’s cosy restaurant.
As we were leaving the toy museum the curator suggested we might like to take a look in the National Library of Singapore which was just across the road and where an exhibition was taking place on its ground floor. This was featuring university students’ work in planning and design and we enjoyed viewing some of their scale models and designs.
As the Raffles Hotel was just around the corner we couldn’t resist the temptation of taking a look inside its famous Long Bar. The hotel itself was closed for major refurbishments but the bar had recently re-opened enabling visitors to enjoy an iconic Singapore Sling cocktail. This refreshing gin based long drink was created in Raffles Long Bar back in early 1900 colonial Singapore and continues to be popular today.
Moving on, we treated ourselves to ice cream cones and enjoyed one final walk through the historic civic district passing the National Gallery we had visited earlier in the week. Just across the road from there stands the Parliament of Singapore and the Ancient Civilisations Museum both of which are beautiful, colonial buildings.
From there our walk continued along to the Singapore Flyer, a giant Ferris wheel located near Promenade MRT station. We didn’t take a ride on board but instead wandered along the winding paths beneath the giant structure where we found a shady mini tropical rainforest complete with lush vegetation and small waterfalls.
Our time in Singapore was drawing to a close but we still had a couple of hours to devote to some last minute shopping. We took the MRT over to Orchard and looked in the Robinson’s department store and Ion Mall before making our way back to our hotel a little further down the road near to the Somerset MRT station.
Back at the hotel we retrieved our luggage and relaxed by the pool awhile before it was time to head back to Changi airport. As with our arrival, it was very easy manoeuvring our luggage on the MRT with step free access at interchange stations.
On arrival at the airport a lengthy queue had already formed for our Qatar Airways flight to Doha but as we had already checked in on-line we only had to wait for the passengers already at the bag drop desk to leave before we were attended to. It’s useful to be aware that at Changi Airport all adult passengers can use the e-gates if they had flown in to the airport and supplied finger prints at the immigration desk on arrival. This was a speedy procedure with both our passports working first time. Security scanning is carried out at gates thus allowing passengers to take bottles of water airside with them to drink before reaching the departure gate.
Qatar Airways flights now depart from Terminal 1, but this was just as nice as Terminal 3, with gorgeous orchid displays along its central concourse. Feeling hungry, we enjoyed the Singapore favourite of chicken rice followed by refreshing glasses of freshly squeezed pineapple juice.
We then stretched our legs and settled down on seats at the gate to read our copy of The Straits Times newspaper. We’d received a complimentary copy delivered to our room each morning and I’d enjoyed its format and interesting articles.
Finally it was time to board our A350-1000 aircraft bound for Doha. The flight boarded on time and our chosen seats of 21A and 21B had ample legroom and felt comfortable. Dinner was served approximately 90 minutes after take off and was quite substantial. It was just our luck that it became slightly turbulent just as the flight attendant was serving hot drinks to the row in front of us and she had to stop for what seemed like ages for safety reasons. Instead, we had glasses of pineapple juice whilst watching a film.
I’d heard of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ but didn’t know anything about it. I watched the film and thought it was excellent, especially as most of it was filmed in Singapore at locations we had just visited. Exhaustion then got the better of me so I settled down for a sleep and didn’t wake until the snack meal was being served. For a change I selected the vegetarian pastry option which tasted quite good accompanied by a glass of juice. There was then just enough time before landing in Doha to fit in another film so I watched ‘The Greatest Showman’ which somehow I’d never got around to watching previously.
Doha airport was running at full capacity as we came into land necessitating us circling around for 25 minutes. After finally parking on a remote stand on the perimeter of the airport we needed to be shuttled to the terminal by bus. This delay, combined with our minimum connection time meant that the departures board was showing our onward flight to London Heathrow as ‘final call’ and we had yet to pass through the airport’s security screening.
We dashed along to the gate which was quite a distance away but there was no need for us to panic as it was still open with numerous other passengers arriving after us. Our final flight of the holiday was on board an Airbus A380 aircraft where we were seated in the front cabin of the lower deck.
After all our rushing we were then delayed 45 minutes as a passenger needed to be off loaded and it took awhile to find the person’s luggage. We finally got underway at half past midnight (Qatar time) and I felt extremely drowsy but stayed awake long enough to eat the chicken and coconut lattice slice which was served shortly after take off.
I then slept soundly for several hours and on waking watched two more films, ‘Victoria and Abdul’ and ‘Mr. Darcy’s Wedding’ which were both good. My final airline meal of the trip was an early morning (UK) time breakfast and reminding me of my lovely holiday I selected the Asian option.
Back in Heathrow, we collected our luggage and then needed to open our cases to retrieve our coats as it felt exceedingly chilly back in the U.K. after the hot weather we’d experienced on our travels. It was then onto the Piccadilly Line of the London Underground to take us back to the mainline station for our journey home.
I hope you have enjoyed this account of my latest travels to Qatar, Malaysia and Singapore. I always enjoy visiting Asia and can’t wait to return. Hopefully my enthusiasm for Asia might encourage some of you to visit there too!
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