Frugality became a lifestyle, one I’d never taken part in so consistently before. Like many ideas that are applied routinely, embedded in the psyche like they were always there, it was one that I began to take for granted. How else was I supposed to afford half a year of travel after quitting my job? There was no getting around it.
Teresa and I budgeted no more than $12-$15 a day on accommodation for the first several months of our adventure, but that number grew as we made it out to Malaysia and Singapore. It jumped exponentially higher when the two of us, along with our sisters, booked a couple of rooms at the Marina Bay Sands, a luxury resort known all over the world. Between myself and Teresa, we deposited whatever loose change was in our pocket, every single night for several months, and put it aside in order to pay for something like this. Like I’ve mentioned before, it was beyond worth it.
When I walked into the lobby, I was blown away. The hotel consists of three tall skyscrapers with a surfboard-like appendage secured on top.
The lobby opens up to the heights of the three towers, giving patrons an inside view of the vast scope of this architectural delight. The rooms we booked constituted the V.I.P. treatment. It felt awkward but good, walking into the V.I.P. lounge to check in with our worn backpacks slung over our shoulders, myself with a tank top and a thick beard that had only been touched with a blade once or twice in months.
Our rooms were fairly high up and facing the city rather than portside. We got an amazing view of the bay and the surrounding commercial district.
The rooms were very nice, but besides the view, nothing over the top. Even an average room gets a bit costly and we could only afford so much at the time. It wasn’t the room which drew our attention to the Marina Bay Sands, though. It was the rooftop infinity pool that had us swooning.
There were periods of stressful anticipation as I constantly checked local weather reports in fear that the pool would be closed due to thunderstorms. Everything worked out in that regard, though. The first thing we did after dropping our bags in the room was to change into our swimsuits and complimentary white robes, and head on up to the best pool I’ve ever swam in. The view speaks for itself; there is little I can say to do it any justice.
The food at this resort was phenomenal. We got to enjoy several complimentary buffets that were presented as casual snacks but really turned out to be massive meals unto themselves. With seemingly unlimited hors d’oeuvre options and a variety of fruit juices and cocktails, we wound up stuffing ourselves mid-afternoon and had to swim it off just to work up an appetite for a late dinner. Our mentality was that if we’d already paid for everything, we were going to take full advantage of what was available to us.
Before dinner, we went back down to our rooms to change for the evening. From the massive ceiling-high window, Teresa and I watched a laser lightshow that was being emitted from the bay area below. We’d heard about the show from some of the people we’d met at The Inn Crowd a few days earlier, but for some reason, we’d never considered how we’d be getting this spectacular view of it from so high up.
After dinner, we made our way back to the rooftop for a nighttime swim. With bright lights illuminating the infinity pool and the surrounding skyscrapers aglow with their own luminosity, it was a truly surreal experience and one that I will never forget. The entire time, we were basking in the moment, soaking up the luxury and serenity of it all.
Later, well after midnight, we headed down to the concourse and to the connecting megamall whose top we could see from our hotel rooms, adjacent to where the lightshow took place. We were starving once again after all the swimming, so we walked to the food court, the only part of the mall still open. One restaurant was serving up a variety of dim sum options. I got a bowl of chicken feet, some shumai, and some shrimp dumplings. Chicken feet is one of my favourite items to get at dim sum; Desiree tried it for the first time, but she didn’t really enjoy it. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of this late night mall run, but we were there during the day as well:
The following day, we needed to check out by 11AM or so, but they allowed us to continue to use the pool for the remainder of the day before we had to head back to Little India, and The Inn Crowd, for one final night in Singapore. Behind the Marina Bay Sands is a massive park area with these futuristic-looking buildings protruding from the tropical flora. The connecting parks had some amazing trails that we enjoyed for part of the afternoon. The view from the top of the hotel, opposite the infinity pool where we enjoyed our buffet meals, gave us a spanning view of the parks’ entirety which is what made us want to experience it in the first place.
The morning after, Mary had to head to the airport where she’d be flying to Tokyo for a lengthy layover that would allow her to enjoy the city for a little bit, before heading out of the continent, back to Canada. She’d already been with us for 2 ½ weeks, which of course flew by faster than anyone could’ve imagined. For Mary, I think this trip was life changing. She stepped far out of her comfort zone and joined us on a backpacking trip on the other side of the world. She sacrificed comfort to live thriftily, while still enjoying herself to the fullest and appreciating all aspects of the culture and countries she’d chosen to immerse herself in. Both Teresa and I are really proud of her for that and the trip would not have been the same without her having joined us. It was an experience of a lifetime.
Desiree still had some time with us left, and our next destination was one of her choosing: Bali. I’d dismissed this particular island of Indonesia as an overpriced destination saturated with tourists. That may accurately represent a small portion of Bali, but as a whole, I was way off in my assumptions. The three remaining travellers, who we call the Three Musketeers to this day, were about to embark on a flight across the equator, down to the southern hemisphere of the earth. We’d left Singapore and landed in Bali, to what would turn out to be one of the most memorable experiences of the entire trip, and a strong contender for my favourite visited country of all time. Indonesia will always have a strong grasp on my heart and soul, and I can’t wait to share these memories with you.