Vacationing in Singapore!

So we had spent just a couple weeks in Dhaka before departing on our first vacation. Several reasons for this. First, people say to get out pretty frequently, as Dhaka can be a little overwhelming. Second, it was a four day weekend, and those don't come around all the time (but three day weekends more or less do - US Embassy employees get all US holidays as well as all local holidays, up to a cap of 20 - so averaging more than 1.5 long weekends per month). Third, and most important, the cause of the four day weekend was Eid al-Adha. Celebration involves ritual slaughter of animals. The richer you are, the bigger an animal you slaughter. So in our relatively swanky neighborhood this means lots of cows being slaughtered and butchered in the streets. Not something Grace (a vegetarian) really wanted to hang around for.

Anyway, we took off on a Thursday evening. To give an idea of how bad traffic can get here, the 6km drive to the airport took right around an hour. Not so much fun, but at least we weren't the ones driving.

We had a red eye to Singapore, which was made a lot more pleasant by the fact that we were flying Singapore Airlines. Really enjoyable, and I the Dhaka-Singapore flight definitely doesn't use their fanciest plane. No $20,000 suite class here. But I did get to binge watch Fargo, which was almost as cool.

We arrived in Singapore around 6:00 AM local time. Not the most convenient for checking in to our hotel room, but it meant the airport was not very crowded. Singapore is a pretty absurd place (in a way that, subjectively, is really pleasant). To start with, both the immigration lines and the restrooms had little touch screens upon exiting where you could rate your experience on a scale of 1 to 5, represented by little smiley faces wearing appropriate expressions.

We felt a little too dimwitted after barely sleeping on the flight over to figure out the train system (turns out it's remarkably easy, no surprise there), so got a cab from the airport to our hotel. The cabbie was quite the character. We told him we arrived from Dhaka and he asked if Singapore was home. No? Then Beijing? Seoul? No, actually we live in Dhaka. He was pretty surprised, but slipped into tour guide mode quickly, giving us a little recent history of Singapore and extolling its virtues (often in particular comparison to Hong Kong - I imagine the two have a bit of a Asian city-state rivalry going on).

I don't think we could have picked more different place from Dhaka. Even the highway we took into town was well designed and obviously the product of a lot of thought and planning. The lanes were numbered (for clarity?) and the street itself was gorgeous - lined by trees for miles on end.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, we were unable to check in when we arrived at the hotel around 6:30 AM. They put us first on the list, though. We didn't feel like sitting in the lobby for four or more hours, so decided to adventure into the city.