Saturday, May 10, 2008 ;
10:09 AM
Back home safely, hooray!

Am sitting in a resort on Sentosa Island right now, typing this, because there is internet reception here.

Singapore has changed somewhat in the 1.5 years I was away. Other things haven't changed, but are just a little difficult to adjust back to, after the absence, eg, the weather.

Here are some things that struck me most:

1. Needless to say, it is really hot and humid. I have been staying indoors where there is air conditioning, especially in the hot afternoons. Because of this, I have been bringing the kids to indoor playgrounds and malls more frequently.

2. How crowded everywhere is. Utah does not have a dense population. So the comfort zone around cars and people is much smaller here and I had to get used to long queues at NTUC (grocery store), post office and banks once again.

3. How child-friendly Singapore is now. Jurong Point did not use to have such a nice nursing room. They already had one in the past, but they just renovated it, and now the nursing room is lovely, with 2 cubicles, hot and cold water outlets, 3 clean diaper changing tops that are cushioned and user-friendly etc. I accompanied my sis there, and while waiting for her to nurse my niece, I checked out all the features, haha.

IMM also has indoor playgrounds since eons ago, and I loved it, cos the kids can climb and swing in air conditioned comfort, while I ate my New Zealand Ice cream cone, and eat the BBQ chicken wings. But they simply loved the garden plaza on the roof top this time. The water park is quite new, and on the Monday morning I brought them, there were very few kids, and so we had the whole place to ourselves for a long time. The kids went wild, shrieking, dancing, and weaving in and out of the fountains, water sprays and emptying buckets. ds2 even took off his tee, so he was running around, half naked. I had to drag them away after 2 hours! Their fingertips and toes were all wrinkled already, yet they didn't want to leave!

I was also so happy to get a free stroller at IMM for ds2 when he fell asleep when I wanted to do grocery shopping. I didn't bring my stroller home from Utah (had it packed for shipping to Tianjin), so I was glad they had so many child-friendly services. I was able to put the sleeping ds2 in the IMM stroller (which was very clean and well-maintained), enjoy my grocery shopping and even devour the yummy food at Coffee Club before he woke up again.

4. Service standards are good, or rather, are improving?
I have been to 3 malls so far, after coming back. Jurong Point, IMM and Vivocity. At most of the stores I walk into, the staff will call out a cheery hello and welcome. They'll leave me to do my browsing or talk to the kids.

On the SQ/ SIA (Singapore Airlines) flight home, I was so impressed with their service, in particular one of the stewardess, that I wrote a commendation email to them, specifying her name already.

This Ms Lee saw me coming in with the kids and at once carried my bags for me. She placed them in the overhead compartment for me, then she got toys and playing cards for the kids. She also came with drinks. Then she and another steward proceeded to get ds1 started on the Nintendo game, taught him how to use the controls, and then talked to ds2! She kept trying to make them happy while I just sat there and relaxed.

Throughout the flight, she and 2 others would constantly be bringing us things. She even carried ds2 for a while. She also played a game with ds2 on the empty seat behind me.

We had hot towels, Ben and Jerrys ice cream, Krispy Kreme donuts, Snickers bars, Dorito chips, muffins and Koka chicken flavor instant noodles served up to us. They kept coming with drinks and water as well. When ds2 was sleeping while breakfast was served, she kept his tray for him, and then once he awoke, offered it. When he didn't fancy the items on the tray, she offered him all the other food items they had.

They also offered warm milk on their own initiative as well, and gave the kids many packets of juice.

When ds1 liked the fruit yoghurt, she brought us 4 more packets as we were disembarking from the plane at Changi Airport Terminal 3! She packed them up nicely for us, with spoons, napkins and a KrisFlyer bag.

I told Dh all these, and said we should be supportive of our own airlines, fly SIA always, after this. :-)

5. Rising costs.
Singapore is getting expensive! When we were moving over to Utah, I had been concerned about the standard of living. Now after coming back, I realised a lot of food items and other stuff are more expensive than in Utah. Electronics and some services are still cheaper (eg I had my jeans altered in a couple of hours, for just S$5) but cereal, milk, bread and a lot of staples are more expensive.

When we were searching for a hotel to stay on Sentosa (our mothers' day celebration for my mom, sis and myself), we couldn't find a cheap one! This Siloso Beach resort is one of the cheaper ones (that is not a chalet), and already cost me S$180++ on Thursday night and S$240++ on Friday night.

6. Foreign workers.
Once again, back to seeing so many foreigners.
On Thursday, it was just me and kids in the Sentosa resort. My sis and parents joined on Friday. So on Friday morning, after the kids woke up, I brought them to the cafe for the buffet breakfast that is included in our stay.

We saw a several other families. There were also young kids with them. Their helpers carried the babies or younger kids, and played with the older ones at the side while the parents had their meals.

Not used to seeing that for sometime. I sat the kids down, and got them some food. They ate the food by themselves while I went outside the cafe to get the cooked food. There was a queue and a wait for the omelette, but the kids did fine. By the time I got back to the table, there were some people and the hotel staff who were staring at the kids already. When I reached the table and started eating my food, they were looking at me. I guess now I become the minority.

At VivoCity too, I was buying gelato for the kids (really yummy gelato, I just love Italian ice cream) when the auntie selling it asked me if I took care of the kids myself. She also asked why they are not in school and whether I am working. It has become odd that a woman of my age is not working, and it has become odd that ds are roaming the malls on a weekday morning.

Ok, the kids are dragging me out to build more sandcastles on the beach!

Will blog with pictures soon!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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