All throughout my childhood, I had been an ardent fan of I Dream of Jeannie, an English television series which was telecasted on Sony Television in Hindi. I religiously watched it every day and always had the fantasy of having the Jeannie in our house.
Not till the Jeannie appeared before me last evening, I knew that she was informed about my undisclosed desire and came to fulfill the same. This time, the Jeannie took the avatar of “Skyscanner”, appeared infront of me and said “Dear, I am here today to fulfill your dreams. You have a budget of Rupees 1 Lakh to plan your dream vacation with my help”
I yelled at the top of my voice in happiness and started contemplating the destinations!!! hmm..Should I go to Europe, Australia, Germany, France, Brazil ?? Where ? Where do I go ?? Scores of thoughts !!! and finally I zeroed on the Lion City, Singapore (Yeah, yeah, if you leave it to me, I would even take a trip to confirm the actual destination :-P). The dates I decided were August 20th to 24th 2014. BTW, its my birthday time and so why not celebrate it in Singapore when I am getting it free of cost!! (Typical Indian wife attitude ah!!!)
Now starts the real stout task of planning the travel , booking the hotels, cabs and uff!!! I was perplexed with the various options this Google Maharaj gave me.
Skyscanner gave an elegant smile and said “Why fear? When I am here? Let me take you through this magical retreat!!” and she blinked and instantly transformed into a website www.skyscanner.co.in and prompted me with the below home screen
In no time, Skyscanner gave me the results. What excited me most was the best price trigger on the top of the screen and also various options at the bottom of the screen for us to make the choice. We also have the option of sharing the same on facebook, twitter and let the world know we are flying!!! ( Going by the adage, “sharing is caring”, I care for fellow wives who want to travel abroad for free )
Skyscanner gave me a total of 239 results in a chronological order of the price ( oooo!!!!). On the right hand side corner, if you notice, it has also given me the options to sort by Price per adult, Total journey time, Outbound departure time, return departure time, Airline, stops.
Me being the usual calculator of the family, I have decided to go for the cheapest possible option. Also, before booking, I had an option of reading through the instructions and booking the tickets.
( Ok people,that’s not me in the hot red frock!!)
I was imagining myself on the roads of Singapore when Skyscanner reminded me that I need to book the accommodation as well.
We launched our Operation Hotel Booking. The dates were robotically picked up from my ticket booking history and I got 373 hotels list. (This is more than the levels I crossed in Candy crush after 1 year of struggle) and the beauty was, it gave me the options of selecting the hotel using various criteria like popularity, price, distance to centre, name, rating, stars (otherwise, I am sure we would have ended up planning New Year celebrations in Singapore.. I am so quick at reviewing, ok!!!)
For first timers like us, it was a very helpful option and me being the usual me, I decided to look at the hotel which is closest to the city (And the shopping area of course). After flipping through various options, I have shortlisted Days Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park (Yes!! I wanted some nativity in the name). These reviews helped me a lot.
No!! No!!! I did not forget calculating, I have spent Rs.41248 + Rs.31603 and I am still left with Rs.27149 out of the Rs.1 Lakh
Now, comes the turn of local sight seeing. My darling Skyscanner was there to help me with the cab booking as well.
hmm.. Interesting option was, it also gave me the age of the driver that can be selected and explanation prompt for why it was given. Out of all the options, I again selected the cheapest (Same concept, “Today’s saving is Tomorrow’s Earning”, who says?? Me!! Me!!)
The total cost was Rs.18163 for the cab service. So, I am still left with Rs.8986 ( At this point I felt like the winner of KBC contest, as I chose the right options). I have decided, I would use this money for the local tickets and food. (of course, for shopping, its going to be husband dear’s wallet, otherwise, what is the point of going for a trip with him??)
Thank you so much Skyscanner for helping me plan my trip so efficiently and easily. Without you, I am sure it would have been a really difficult task (As difficult as selecting a nice outfit during the flat 50% sale where all of them look equally good but only some of them are worth it). You clearly demarked the options and helped me make the right choice.
My Jeannie, Skyscanner was elated with joy and said “Common!!! Let me take you to the trip now!!” and she winked. As she winked, we found ourselves in the Airport on 20th August 2014 ready to board the flight to Singapore
Day 0, 20th August 2014:
9:50 P.M : Take a selfie in the airport, update the Status “ Flying to Singapore” and board the flight “Vrroooom!!!! Singapore, here we come 🙂 ”
Day 1, 21st August 2014:
4:40 A.M : The flight lands in Singapore Changi Airport. Though we have traveled only for 4 Hours 20 minutes, the time in Singapore was 4:40 A.M and we had slight jet lag ( It was not very attacking, more or less equivalent to watching FIFA finals till 4:00 A.M )
Once we were out of the airport, we were royally welcomed by our chauffeur with a placard of our names written on it. ( Again the KBC winner feeling here). It took 30 minutes for us reach our hotel.
Google suggested that Singapore’s climate was much like Chennai’s climate, and so we decided to move out of the hotel at the earliest, in order to escape the hot sun.
8:30 A.M: We headed towards Singapore Zoo which is about half an hour’s drive from the hotel we stayed. Dheer was very excited as Zoo topped his itinerary.Singapore Zoo is the only place in the world where you can have breakfast with orangutans and we did not want to give it a miss.
After the breakfast, we went around and saw the Elephant bathing. Dheer was excited to see different types of baboons. We finally finished our trip by watching critters such as the mouse deers, lemurs and sloths and the orangutans.
We must have definitely burnt some calories for the walk around we did and we were awfully hungry.
As our dearest friend Mr.Sun was shining bright, we decided, the next destination has to be a place where we can protect ourselves from him and so shopping came to my mind instantly. It took us about 30 minutes to drive from the Zoo to Singapore’s most happening road Orchard Road. The local resources told us that Ngee Ann City is considered to the shopper’s prime destination there and it had many local and international branded shops.
We started with good food. We decided to have local cuisine and so we bumped on Suzi and Hongkong noodles and chopsticks in the basement of the mall. After the elaborate lunch, we strolled around for some good souvenirs for family and friends. We visited Kinokuniya, Singapore’s largest book store and picked up few collections, visited some top international brand showrooms (At this point, husband dear felt so miserable and must surely be cursing the guy who invented this word called shopping)
After we spent about 4-5 hours shopping, we realized that we had only 2 more days to enjoy the place and finally we were out of Orchid road with bags and bags of shopping. We were already really tired and so decided to just have a pleasant walk around.
After about 5-10 minutes of walk, we went around Cavenagh bridge, we were told it’s the oldest bridge still standing. Fullerton Hotel, which was Singapore’s general post office, now converted into a hotel. On the other side of the river, was Esplande, a new complex devoted to Fine Arts.
We clicked some pictures with Merlion,Singapore’s official committee designed symbol, half lion, half fish and statue of Sir Stamford Raffles, the man who discovered Singapore ( Needless to say we updated our FB status also quickly). The rest of the night we relaxed with eating and drinking.
Day 2, 22nd August 2014:
We started our day with a Singaporean breakfast of kaya toast, runny eggs and strong sweet coffee, also known locally as kopi. (We had 300 likes for the below photograph we updated :p )
Today is the D-day, we have planned for a trip to Sentosa, an island near Singapore to visit Universal Studios. This is “one-of-its-kind theme park in Asia”. It is spread over 49 acres, with 24 attractions and 18 original or specifically adapted for this park. The park consisted of seven themed zones.
While I liked the Ancient Egypt theme, Dheer was in love with the Jurassic park theme and husband dear like the Sci-fi city theme. The other themes Hollywood, New York, Madagascar, Far Far away were also equally enjoyable. Overall it was a really tiring day. I wish I had a day extra to visit Universal Studios. Today’s trip was hectic one and we enjoyed quite a bit and made plans for tomorrow.
Day 3, 23rd August 2014:
Today is a special day, it’s my birthday. For a change, husband dear planned the day (Atleast once in a while, I give the chance to him ) and kept it as a surprise element!!
After finishing the breakfast at the hotel, we started our day on a pleasant trip to Gardens by the Bay. It was a 20 minutes drive from our hotel. It is a 54 acre park with world’s largest column less greenhouse. We were excited to see the trees of Africa and ancient olive trees from the Mediterranean, as well as gardens from Americas and beyond. A part of the park called, the Cloud Forest contains a 35-metre man-made mountain and waterfall and encloses moist and cool Tropical climate and overall the park was a pleasant experience!!
As it was a special day, the lunch was planned in one of the most exotic hotels in Singapore Shangri-La. The buffet was spread across different menus and the gourmet in us had a great feast today. After the sumptuous lunch, we headed to the last part of the tour(Alas!! The tour is going to end).
My husband kept on the excitement and did not reveal where we were headed to, till we reached Singapore Flyer. This reminded us of our heydays, when he was living in London and visited London’s eye. After fondly recollecting our old memories, we took the ride on the Singapore Flyer.
And to my surprise, he arranged my birthday party here. ( This surprise almost gave me a heart attack. He is as good at surprises as I am at FIFA, Lol!! ). It was a 360 degree city view with a private themed capsule exclusively for us.
After the romantic dinner, our cab suddenly took a different route. Guess what!!! We ended our tour with a exciting trip to Night Safari. The Night Safari is the world’s first nocturnal zoo and one of the most popular attractions in Singapore. Dheer enjoyed watching the animals so close by. Finally, we ended our trip after uploading all the pics ( yeah!! yeah!! The hotel gave us free wi-fi and why not make use of it).
Day 4, August 24th 2014:
We vacated our hotel room and headed back to the airport. By the time, we reached India, it was 11:00 A.M. Relaxed for the day and started thinking about the To-do’s for tomorrow.
Skyscanner, thanks for making all this possible without any hassles and making our trip really memorable. ( I so much wish that you are always with me, so that I escape my cores, you wink and get it done for me :-P, isn’t it too much? )
P.S: All the photographs have been taken from various open resources on google.com.