The Joys of Singapore then back to COVID reality.

We weighed all our options before leaving for Singapore on March 13th. It was not an easy decision but since Singapore was not a “hotspot” we figured it was safer there than here. And it sure seemed that way! Almost every entrance or doorway to a mall, restaurant or market, there were thermal cameras manned at the door. Places with no cameras, we were greeted by personnel that took our temperature. The food and shopping were amazing and the crowds were light. All that made for a very memorable trip to a very special place.

We met a few times with my cousin LuLu and nephew Wei Meng. They took us around town a bit and showed us some spectacular evening sights. Wonderful to see them again!

There were so many things to do on our list but we did not have enough time. Six days in Singapore is a fraction of the time needed to really visit and see everything, even though we all have been there before. The last time we were there, the Marina Bay Sands had just been built, the Gardens by the Bay was in construction and the Jewel at the airport was an empty lot.

Our first full day there we went on a food tour. I’m glad the family got to eat some of the foods I grew up with.

On the third day we took a cooking class. We made traditional Singapore dishes ( Char Kway Teow, Satay with peanut sauce and a sago dessert) and it all turned out fantastic. We would do that again (different dishes of course) the next time we are in town.

Our apartment was incredible. Super close to shopping, food and the MRT (subway trains). It was 3 bedroom 2 bath place on the 19th floor of Orchard ParkSuites. To have a place that big right in the heart of Orchard was amazing. We will definitely stay there again!

For me this trip was about eating the food and to be with the entire family for possibly the last time for awhile. The boys go to college this fall and their vacation schedules are unknown. Hopefully we will be able to travel as a family again soon but we just don’t know.

The Coronavirus was definitely on our minds during the entire trip. When we left SFO, things weren’t too bad in the US. After our first day in Singapore, Governor Newsome ordered a shelter in place and the dental society highly recommended dental offices shutdown and only allow urgent or life threatening treatment. So while we were in Singapore, my office had to be closed. With the 15 hour time difference and ahead one day, it was a little difficult to stay in contact with the staff to get things in order. We closed on March 17th and have been closed since.

On our 5th day, I received an email from Philippine Airlines stating one of our flights were canceled. That spooked us a lot but we would probably rather quarantine in beautiful Singapore than at home. BUT…there’s no place like home! Our flight home connected in Manilla and Manilla had just shut down all flights in and out! After a full day of trying to get a hold of a live person at Philippine Airlines, I gave up. The phone just rang and rang. We decided we needed to just go to the airport and talk to someone at the ticket counter at PAL. So we left at 10:30am Friday and went to the airport. Not an entirely smart move. Since there was only one flight out on PAL that day (we did not know that), the counter only opens 3 hours before the flight. That flight was at 8:00PM! So instead of shuttling back to town, we “toured” the Jewel at Changi Airport. It’s a destination all on it’s own. Huge is an understatement. Of course there was food and more shopping but at that point in time our minds were focused on getting home.

Five O’clock came ( seemed like it took forever) and we spoke to a ticket agent. She said yes our flight on Saturday was canceled but they will put us on the flight out of Manilla on Sunday night. However we still have to get to Manilla on Saturday. That leaves us a 22 hour layover in the Manilla airport. I suggested we fly out Sunday out of Singapore because that would make the layover only 3 hours AND give us another full day in Singapore. She said we should fly out on Saturday because if for whatever reason we miss the flight from Singapore to Manilla on Sunday, the flight from Manilla to SFO is the LAST FLIGHT OUT OF MANILLA. Yikes. OK, 22 hour layover it is!

When we got to Manilla we were escorted to a “Transfer Lounge”. We were told we cannot leave for any reason. They even took our boarding passes for the SFO flight. The room was small and dark and did not have any couches to lay flat on. The GOOD was we had a bathroom and a shower. The BAD, no food or water! They also did not allow us to bring in our luggage so showering was not an option. After 7 hours someone came in and asked if we wanted them to get us some food and drink. Well yeah! She said the airport is basically closed so there are no food venders there. They will have to drive out of the airport to get food. Plus we had no Philippine pesos! I gave her money in USD and hoped it was enough. We did get food but it took a long time. VERY basic meal..brown and white. Hey it was food and we got water too. Felt like a detention center.

When we finally boarded the plane to SFO, it was high fives all around! Upon entering US Customs, the boys and I had our Global Entry interviews ( the girls already have GE). It went smoothly and we left left the airport with no one screening us for….anything!

Not being able to work for weeks is a strange feeling. Never in my life have I taken so many days off in a row. Probably like most of you. There is a silver lining. A lot of good quality time with family, all the little “projects” are getting done and I get to fish with the boys again! They can’t hang out with their friends so it’s fishing with me or stay home and watch Netflix. Of course I make them go with me:))

Since we have so many free days we are picking and choosing good days to go. Most of the launch ramps around here are closed. The ones that are open are jam packed. Now the state is considering closing all fishing. We’ll see how productive the next few weeks are.

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