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Forums Other Destination advice Singapore trip report with a side-order of Hong Kong by Froggee (paterfamilias)

  • Froggee 987 posts

    Technically Thursday was a school day with the boys due to attend just for the morning for reasons only known by the senior management of their school. Therefore, we had decided to make a break for Singapore a day early to maximise our time away. Kermit was delighted because he avoided speaking in front of the class. And there was the added benefit of saving a few Avios as unlike Easter Friday, Thursday was an off-peak redemption day. I had managed to snag four seats in Club World with two Amex 241 vouchers by using my now famous Google flight tracking technique. The cash price dropped by £1,000 per pax and lo and behold, availability suddenly became wide open over Easter. I paid 406,000 Avios + £2,820 + two Amex 241s which was certainly better value than the £11,400 British Airways wanted from those not well versed in the dark arts of Avios.

    The purpose of the visit to Singapore could best be described as being a pre-emptive strike. Mrs Froggee’s mother had started making noises about coming to visit us and apparently this was not okay. Like seriously-over-Mrs-Froggee’s-dead-body-not-going-to-happen not okay. Therefore, we had to go to Singapore ASAP to head her off at the pass.

    As is my habit when off on a family holiday I woke early. In a cold sweat. I immediately checked my emails to find the traditional message from British Airways about my flight. Today British Airways were expecting adverse weather conditions that may cause delays across their network. Of course they were. They invited me to change my flight to an earlier one in Manage-My-Booking. I had allowed a 3.5-hour gap at Heathrow based upon the mantra that I like to be able to make a long-haul connection even if I were to take the flight after the one that I booked. I looked at the weather and 50 mph gusts were forecast that afternoon at Heathrow. I checked with Mrs Froggee. Flying earlier sounded like a sensible plan. Obviously Manage-My-Booking would not let me change anything.

    I called British Airways who played me some music, let me select some menu options and then said they were far too busy to speak to me and cut the call off. I discussed this turn of events with Mrs Froggee and we decided we might as well go to the airport early. We did not have much more packing to do so left the house at 9:35am without much ado. Indeed, we could have left earlier but I was scared of how much extra we would be charged for car parking.

    I chose to give the car a bit of a run so went on the Edinburgh city bypass. Freddo asked questions incessantly and was eventually rewarded with me shouting at him when he asked why I wasn’t driving at 60 mph as I was trying to slot myself onto the bypass from the slip road. We were at Edinburgh Airport at 10:01am. This time was important as I had booked parking for midday and you are allowed to arrive up to two hours early without charge.

    #winning

    Edinburgh Airport Departures

    I had booked FastPark which is the one where they photograph your car to evidence it was already trashed when you dropped it off and then they take it away to a muddy field. I had chosen FastPark because at £76.49 I had only puked a little in my mouth whereas the terminal car parking price had resulted in a full-on projectile vomit.

    The attendant knew me by name which shows what number plate recognition can do for customer service. He cheerily reminded me to empty my car of bags and children and follow the instructions on the machine at reception. I double checked that he would not take my children. He said regrettably not but then regaled us with a story from a couple of months prior where one of the drivers got into a car fully intending to drive it to a muddy field to find a toddler asleep in the back seat. Both Kermit and Freddo were appalled at this. It is questionable whether Mrs Froggee should have admitted she had absentmindedly left Kermit in the car once but at least she (i) remembered shortly thereafter; and (ii) had not posted her car keys into a box so someone could drive her car to a muddy field and leave it there for a couple of weeks.

    We were at check-in at 10:10am. I was optimistic we would be put on the 11:10 flight which had been the only one prior to ours with four business class seats available when we left our house. But these seats were gone. And apparently the check-in staff do not have the authority to downgrade passengers so we remained on the 14:10. Four hours at Edinburgh airport. Oh goodie.

    Because we had plenty of time, we had zero wait at security, and none of our bags were selected for secondary screening. Mrs Froggee and Kermit did make the beepy machine beep. But Freddo and I were peachy. This was weird as I had become convinced that my jeans always set off metal detectors.

    We were in the lounge by 10:30am. Less than an hour from front door to lounge is always good going. I had been intending asking the lounge dragon if it might be possible to change to an earlier flight although did not have high hopes given our checked luggage. But our lounge dragon was not even wearing a British Airways uniform. He initially tried to deny us entry as “you have two children over five and only one can be guested in”. I was about to point out that Mrs Froggee and I both have silver status before remembering that we were all ticketed in business class anyway. Chance of this fellow being able to change our flights = zero. Anyway, we were rewarded for our earliness by being in plenty of time for the breakfast spread. Kermit and Freddo stuffed their faces. Weirdly Kermit went back for more black pudding. I decided not to tell him it was made with pig blood.

    Lunch was a less agreeable affair as the normal plain ham sandwiches had been enhanced to ham hock and pickle. Kermit would not entertain this turn of events. He grudgingly had a steak pie and some soup. Freddo was less grudging. Otherwise, time in the lounge was uneventful except for a member of staff double checking we had not missed our flight given how long we had been sitting there. Other way round mate, other way round.

    As it turned out the inbound flight landed only six minutes late. Boarding was appallingly organised as always. Most of the width of the terminal at gate 3 was blocked off with tensile barriers. The throngs jostling for position at the entrance to these were then in turn blocking everyone who wanted to get to gates 1 and 2. Freddo bounced. Kermit complained to me. I complained to Mrs Froggee. Mrs Froggee gritted her teeth. I wonder if Edinburgh Airport management ever walk the floor or if they spend all their time in meetings deciding how much they should put up the price of parking?

    Edinburgh to Heathrow

    Anyway, we were pretty much on time in the end. The inflight service was decent and we all had scones. Freddo decided to get a headache so Mrs Froggee administered calpol and instructed him to shut his eyes. He duly fell asleep at an angle that would have left a grown-up requiring a lifetime of chiropractic treatment but he woke up renewed as we started to land. The landing was pretty turbulent. Kermit ignored it until he could not any more as staring at an iPad screen on a bouncy landing is not a good plan for small children prone to travel sickness. Kermit felt sick. We had forgotten to administer Kwells and then let him self-sabotage. Bad parenting. I gave him a Kwells pill as an afterthought. On landing Kermit wanted to go to the toilet. I had guessed this as he had let off an emission that a dying farmyard animal would have been ashamed of. No Kermit, we are about to get off the plane. He looked green as we disembarked. Off we went to the all too familiar facilities at flight connections. Freddo peed. Kermit desecrated a toilet. I checked on him periodically. He came out feeling a bit better.

    Heathrow Airport

    We made our way to the shopping mall that is T5A and Mrs Froggee took Freddo shopping whereas I led Kermit to the tunnel in an attempt to get the closest thing Heathrow offers to fresh air. We walked to B gates and attended the lounge which was remarkably civilised. 2/5 on the British Airways lounge occupancy website. I presented Kermit with a glass of lemon infused water and a couple of raisin shortcake biscuits. Kermit curled up in a ball on his seat. Mrs Froggee and Freddo arrived having bought tea from Fortnum & Mason. And a small jute bag which Freddo told me he had bought with his own money and cost £9.50. I took this as a sign not to ask how much the tea cost.

    Kermit slowly came to. He ate the biscuits. “Can I have my iPad?” No, Kermit you may not. We had dinner in the lounge which could best be described as beige. And then off we went to gate C63 where we arrived just as boarding commenced. We boarded. I still do not get the whole boarding first thing. I mean the reward for boarding early is an extra half hour on the plane while everyone streams past breathing their germs at you. But that is how we roll. I had booked 12&13 J&K which allowed Kermit direct aisle access on the off chance he might wish to go to the toilet during the 13-hour flight.

    Heathrow to Singapore

    I had been allocated Freddo which is like winning the lottery but instead of several million pounds you get the most annoying child in the world. Boy, was he annoying. Needless to say, the flight did not push back at exactly 18:55 which was met with consternation. And it only pushed back because Heathrow wanted their jetway. We were then left all alone on the tarmac for an hour until eventually taking off well after 8pm. Obviously I had not been left all alone as Freddo harangued me relentlessly. I read him a couple of chapters of a Secret Seven story explaining yet again that dinner is lunch, tea is snack and supper is dinner. But breakfast is still breakfast? Yes Freddo. I then spent the rest of the time telling him to stop bouncing and definitely to stop talking.

    Once in the air Freddo “could not fall asleep”. He actually beat my expectations and was out shortly after 9pm. But he made sure I knew about it when he was not sleeping. I chose not to eat as I had brushed my teeth in the lounge like a good boy. Meanwhile Mrs Froggee and Kermit had dinner supper. I find it a strange decision to eat a second evening meal, three or four hours later than usual just because you are on a plane. But as Mrs Froggee keeps telling me – everyone is different.

    The plane was remarkably clean for British Airways. And the cabin crew was excellent. Most of note was that they walked quietly up and down the aisle rather than doing the usual thumps. Although one forgot Mrs Froggee’s mug of tea TWICE. In our household this is a hanging offence. But in the morning, she gave Mrs Froggee the remaining Lindor chocolates as recompense. The main negative of the flight was that one of the toilets was out of order. But despite the prevalence of children in the cabin, we managed.

    Freddo woke at 4:45am (UK time), possibly prompted by someone deciding to illuminate the cabin with natural light. Fortunately, I was already awake as the woman in the window seat was unable to step over my legs without giving me an almighty kick. Go back to sleep Freddo. Two hours later when breakfast was on the cards, he was not so willing to engage. As flights go, it was a non-event. And like that it was forty minutes to landing.

    Changi Airport Arrivals

    Arrival into Changi was seamless. Apart from Mrs Froggee being briefly kidnapped by immigration for proof of life purposes as her last two passports had been issued in London without her returning to the mothership in between. They could not believe she had no intention of moving home to the paradise that is Singapore. We were through in the blink of an eye. In Kermit’s words “Was that immigration?” Yes Kermit. “WOW!” In the time it took Kermit and Freddo to make peepee (and in Kermit’s case examine the squatting toilets as he had not believed me that people made poopoo in a hole in the ground), Mrs Froggee was back with us and we were off to the luggage belt where our three bags promptly arrived. As we headed landslide Kermit uttered the priceless words in a super-excited voice “Mummy – they all look like you here!”

    We were greeted by Gong Gong, Paw Paw, their helper and an Auntie of unknown classification although apparently Auntie had stayed in my house. People hugged. Even Kermit. Paw Paw could not stop rubbing Freddo’s cheek. Changi was mobbed and apparently this was because it was a public holiday and, totally logically, people go to the airport to shop on public holidays in Singapore. We battled our way to the car park which was stiflingly hot. I banished Mrs Froggee and the boys to the air-conditioned lift lobby while we waited for Gong Gong and Auntie-of-unknown-classification to get their cars. I pretended I was not sweating like a pig. And yes, I know pigs do not sweat.

    One of the cars was loaded with all the suitcases. This involved putting two thirds of the back seat down which was not to Mrs Froggee’s satisfaction as it meant three in the back of the other car, which would not work with two booster seats. This prompted Mrs Froggee and Paw Paw to have their first argument of the trip. I moved some of the suitcases to the other car. The other car’s back seat was put up again. Paw Paw and helper then announced that they were not actually coming with us so there was no need to accommodate eight people. For reasons that were beyond me I then had to move the cases back to the other car. It was becoming obvious that I was sweating.

    After a cursory farewell to Paw Paw and helper we were off. I looked at the time. We would have pretty much been at our serviced apartment by now if we had just got a cab. Oh well. It’s family innit? I went with Gong Gong who talked about property prices, the ever-rising cost of chicken rice and that Hong Kong was no longer safe for white people with the change in government there. This concerned me deeply as chicken rice is a bit of a staple.

    Great World Serviced Apartments

    After a few wrong turns we were at Great World Serviced Apartments. We had booked this property as a three-bedroom apartment is a spacious 1,600 square feet (although this will include the redundant maid’s quarters) and it is helpfully tagged onto a large shopping mall with MRT access. It features a “near Olympic size” swimming pool (I measured it at 42 metres because that is what I do), a play room where children go to lose their spirit and a barren residents’ lounge. There was a gym that I should have used as I go stir crazy not walking anywhere in Singapore. We used the pool a lot as what else can you do with kids? I say “we” in that Mrs Froggee did not use the pool at all despite being a keen swimmer as she quickly worked out that when the boys were swimming, they were not in the apartment so she could have sleepy time. I did not get sleepy time. Instead, I got smacked and kicked and suffered bruises to both shins from a well-concealed ledge in the boys’ favourite bit of the pool.

    I had booked the apartment directly at S$10,425.79 for 13 nights. With hindsight I should have booked with Hotels.com as their more expensive rate became roughly equal to booking directly with cashback applied. And I would have got 13 high value stamps given that they have not yet gutted the loyalty scheme. We checked in. The lady helping us could not stop herself from rubbing Freddo’s cheek. She explained that she had recently retired so had got this job as she was still fit and did not want to be a burden. I said I had also recently retired and was delighted to be a burden. I went to the apartment with the boys while Mrs Froggee and Gong Gong took the car to the car park.

    Mrs Froggee arrived having been told by the check-in lady that her children were super cute and her husband was handsome. I have been called handsome zero times in Europe, the Americas, and Australasia, but many times in Asia. I am quite tall so they probably cannot see my face very well.

    We settled in over the weekend, and made vague attempts to try and nudge the boys towards Singapore time. This did not go well. The first night Kermit woke Mrs Froggee twice – firstly with a headache and secondly by screaming his lungs out after a nightmare. I slept through this. Feeling guilty I stayed up until 3:30am the second night to deal with the nonsense thereby letting Mrs Froggee sleep. The third night Freddo woke me because “every time I close my eyes, I start crying”. After this, I could not get back to sleep so ended up sitting on the couch with Kermit which was lucky as it turns out they had used all the toilet paper in their bathroom and I was able to fetch the final roll from our en-suite and divided it up appropriately. The next day I rushed out to buy six more rolls for S$4 of which five were unneeded as the cleaners left loads from then on.

    Transport

    Mrs Froggee had opted to take advantage of paternal love and was commandeering her father’s car for the trip. A shiny new Honda Jazz hybrid. Full tank of petrol, and preloaded payment card included. To say this was kind of Gong Gong is an understatement as the main reason Mrs Froggee was sent away to university was the shame she brought on her family by repeatedly failing her driving test in Singapore. Having eventually passed her test in England after only a few further attempts, she snuck back into Singapore as a stowaway on a sand barge. Once back home she promptly converted her UK license to a Singapore one and then spent the next few years merrily causing havoc on the roads. She never had an accident in Singapore but caused many, and sure enough, after a three-year spree was deported back to the UK where she lived happily ever after. Ish.

    Driving in Singapore is an adventure. I refuse to do so on account of the national sport of 惊输 which is anglicised as kiasu. Kiasu literally translates from the Hokkien as meaning “afraid to lose” and more roughly translates to mean you never, ever let another driver in, but you must cut in-front of others for giggles. It takes some getting used to. It took Mrs Froggee about ten minutes to renew herself with this driving style and soon she was traversing several lanes to make an impossible exit with the best of them. To be fair, we didn’t die and she made her lane changes with such an element of surprise that nobody got close enough to scratch Gong Gong’s car.

    I was the only member of the family to take the MRT this time. It cost S$1.69, was clean, and nobody on it looked like they had any intention of murdering me.

    Family

    We met Gong Gong and Paw Paw at the food court for a late lunch the first full day. Gong Gong attempted to thrust S$800 at the boys which Mrs Froggee intercepted with her catlike reflexes. Paw Paw then formally gave Mrs Froggee a red packet containing S$1,200. That is a lot of S$7.00 chicken rice. Paw Paw then got stuck into the business of reminded Mrs Froggee exactly why she chose to live 6,783 miles from home by offering unsolicited guidance to her daughter on numerous topics but mainly her children. Paw Paw has a real gift as she could seamlessly switch from bristling Mandarin (to Mrs Froggee) to engaging English (to the boys) to we’ll-never-know-what-was-said Hokkien (to Gong Gong). And in the days when her helper was Indonesian rather than Filipina, she could bark instructions in Bahasa also. Anyway, the boys and I need to eat more, Mrs Froggee needs to eat less and I do see why Mrs Froggee prefers to live in Scotland.

    After the first few days of settling in, the social stakes were upped with some familial dinners and visits to important-in-the-pecking-order maternal aunties. That may sound nice to some but it was daunting to me. Unlike Gong Gong who is from a small family being one of only six sons, Paw Paw comes from a large family. Mrs Froggee thinks there were 17 siblings although they never stayed in the same place long enough to be counted. Therefore, I did the only logical thing and ignored my father-in-law’s advice and got on a plane to Hong Kong to catch up with one of my best friends, Mikey Millions and my former colleagues all but two of whom turned out to be away.

    You could say that running away from a big family dinner is overkill but the last time we attempted to do a big family dinner, earlier in the day Freddo decided to slip at the pool and smash his head. By dinner time he became drowsy, felt out of sorts and then puked everywhere. Repeatedly. This necessitated abandoning a couple of dozen relatives to make an impromptu trip to A&E in cousin Benny’s car. At A&E it was concluded that Freddo probably was concussed but was otherwise fine and after they had successfully blocked my Halifax Clarity credit card by grabbing it from me and trying to extract the attendance charge using contactless, we were allowed to go back to the hotel. Freddo and I did not get dinner. Mrs Froggee and Kermit got takeout fried chicken. Such was my concern for Freddo that I slept with him in the marital bed that night leaving Mrs Froggee to share a room with Kermit. I was woken the next morning to find that Freddo had turned 90 degrees and was repeatedly kicking me in the back of the head. I was delighted to be getting kicked in the head by Freddo which shows it is all about setting expectations when you choose a bed partner. Anyway – no way was I risking getting a credit card blocked again so Hong Kong it was.

    Hong Kong

    Hong Kong was sad. It was deathly quiet as apparently everyone had left for Easter and I even had personal space on the MTR at rush hour. The Conrad (HK$ 2,805 a night including the service charge and also a HK$1,200 nightly food and beverage credit which I am proud to say I hit HK$1,145 of on the first day and HK$1,199 on the second) seemed decrepit based upon there being black mould in my room. The service was still exceptional. Business class with Singapore Airlines (68,000 KrisFlyer miles + S$123.70) was exemplary as always. It was good to see Mikey Millions and my two former colleagues and as a bonus, my former best friend Mr McToadrick happened to be in Hong Kong for the Sevens. I returned to Singapore to hear that Freddo had been very emotional, particularly at night, as he had missed me, the family dinners and visits went well, and nobody had been concussed. And they had a jolly old time at the Science Centre. Excellent.

    Shopping

    Many years ago, Granny Froggee commented that she understood Mrs Froggee much better once she had seen her in motion in the malls of Orchard Road. A bit like the difference between seeing an orangutan in the zoo and in the wild as it were. Mrs Froggee did not waste time reacquainting herself with Singapore’s shopkeepers and I expect a significant spike in the 2Q GDP numbers. An example of her depravity can be highlighted by the simple triggering act of walking past a dress shop on our way into Great World City where we dined on many an occasion. There was a nice dress on the mannequin outside a shop. I agreed it was nice. This was a schoolboy error. I then agreed to wait with the boys in Smiggle opposite while she tried it on. This was naive of me in the extreme. But Mrs Froggee values my opinion immensely as unlike the other husbands I am delighted to tell her that her bum looks big in that. Like going for just one beer with an alcoholic, making a friendly bet with a gambling addict, or forming a military alliance with Vladimir Putin to aid in a minor border skirmish, I became an enabler.

    Just one dress she said. The final tally was myriad dresses examined and nine tried on. Five were purchased. “It makes you look two sizes smaller.” Purchased. “It makes you look your actual size.” Purchased. “I’m not sure about the way it sits on you.” Purchased (apparently that was the style). “I preferred the other one.” Purchased. “Sure, why not, you wouldn’t want to leave the shop with any inventory.” Purchased. “That one makes you look a bit chunky.” Not purchased. “It might suit you if you dyed your hair blonde.” Not even tried on dammit.

    Meanwhile Kermit developed a love of Daiso which can best be described as what would happen if the Japanese tried to combine Woolworths with Poundland. The first time the clan went I genuinely thought they had been hired to do a stock take. Why buy Chinese tat at home when you can fly to Singapore to buy Chinese tat as reimagined by the Japanese.

    Touristy stuff

    We visited the Night Safari again (S$56 for me, S$39 for the boys and S$27.30 for Mrs Froggee as a native). It was exactly as I remembered it. I’d say the boys enjoyed it more aged five and two than they did ten and seven although Freddo does love the common-or-garden cushion he got from the gift shop that with zipper technology transforms to become a cuddly elephant.

    The boys had been promised water parks in Singapore and we were good to our word visiting both Wild Wild Wet (S$81 taking advantage of a 443 promotion + S$18 for a large locker rental) and Adventure Cove (S$37 each for the boys and me including S$5 of meal vouchers and S$10 of Lego store credit and S$28 locals’ price for Mrs Froggee without the frippery + S$10 for a small locker rental which took all my might to close on account of it being a lot smaller than the larger S$20 ones). Our conclusion was that Wild Wild Wet was better. It had more interesting rides and although it was a bit tired and rough around the edges, was simply more fun. And it was quiet so no queues.

    Adventure Cove on the other hand is part of the newer all-singing, all-dancing Resorts World on Sentosa. It was much busier, despite us going on a Monday. We paid S$82 for a lunch, albeit minus the S$15 of vouchers, that was without doubt the poorest food we had on the trip. And that includes eating in the British Airways lounges. We have a saying that it is not a holiday unless Freddo sustains a head injury and sure enough the boys were rewarded for their half hour wait to go on Riptide Rocket, by the dinghy overturning at the bottom resulting in a clash of heads. Fortunately, Kermit’s head is much softer than the tiles at a swimming pool so Freddo merely had a bump and not vomit-inducing concussion. Our time at Adventure Cove was foreshortened by inclement weather which is Singlish for a thunderstorm. Initially I was willing to wait it out but in classic Singapore fashion the powers-that-be played an announcement on loop at full volume over the tannoy alternating between English and Chinese. The Chinese was vastly preferable as it was gentler and I could not understand it. But then we got English again. After about 20 minutes I lost the will to live and announced that we were going. It was three to one with Freddo wishing to stay but we duly got changed. On coming out of the changing room the weather had improved and they were preparing to reopen the attractions which was at least a different repeated announcement. I did not care. I was done. We exited with an hour to go. We made the compulsory visit to the Lego store where S$60 was successfully spent so Mrs Froggee could avail herself of the S$30 store credit. I was very, very pleased to leave Resorts World.

    We visited the Gardens by the Bay Cloud Forest and Flower Dome (S$32 for me, S$18 for the boys and S$20 for Mrs Froggee) which was like a more spectacular version of the glasshouse at Kew Gardens except in Singapore they have to air-condition the plants. Mrs Froggee took a nice picture of me standing next to a sign that said “I know I’m pretty but please do not touch me”. It was very pleasant apart from the whole fear of heights thing I suffer from. We ducked the skyway this time as I have still not recovered from doing that five years ago. Then the boys got to burn off some energy in the Children’s Garden which was free. And very wet.

    The weather was unpleasantly hot even by Singapore standards courtesy of El Niño. Even the locals were complaining. This sapped our energy to say the least and definitely reduced touristy and outdoor activities. We didn’t even do the Sentosa cable car this time. You can see how indoor play centres are a big thing here. I managed to avoid this trauma, instead catching up with a former colleague but Mrs Froggee went with her cousin and their respective spawn to SuperPark which cost S$30.90 per person including grown-ups. I would not wish to write anything libellous but both Freddo and Mrs Froggee had quite a few insect bites afterwards.

    Food

    Food is a religion in Singapore and we did our fair share of nibbling. Breakfast was mainly had in the apartment but ended up being egg based for the boys as “the porridge tasted different”. I bought bran flakes (S$13!!!) and corn flakes (S$5). They also tasted different. I got the boys to drink some fresh milk. It was the milk that tasted different. Grrrr. Mrs Froggee and I were fine with it. I finished the porridge but the bran flakes and corn flakes were barely touched.

    We were frequent visitors to the Food Junction food court at Great World city where the boys’ favourite was “pink chicken” (marinated roast chicken). We ate at Kith Café twice because we were given S$150 of vouchers for that place by the serviced apartment. We ate at both my favourite Taiwanese chain restaurant (Din Tai Fung) and my favourite Hong Kong chain restaurant (Tim Ho Wan) although the latter was more popular with the gang resulting in a repeat visit. Ichiban Boshi became our favourite Japanese chain restaurant partly because they had the Japanese equivalent of a Happy Meal for Freddo. Crystal Jade was highly disappointing in the evening as they were not doing dim sum and did not have half the stuff on the menu. We ate a meal with Mrs Froggee’s parents and a couple more aunties at Putien which really did not hit the spot for any of us although I find it never helps when I am not allowed to look at the menu and am then presented with bucketloads of shellfish which I do not eat. It may have been because Mrs Froggee could not take her mum repeatedly commenting that her other daughter’s house sits on a one-acre plot and we have but one quarter of that but Mrs Froggee did not eat much either. We went back to the apartment, parked the car and hit up Shake Shack. Did I not mention Shake Shack? Apart from the food court, we went there more than anywhere. The boys do love a burger. But the McDonalds count was zero this trip. The typical cost of feeding us with drinks was S$30-$40 at the food court and S$100-S$120 in a sit-down restaurant. Not too damaging. Kermit embraced the food. Freddo not so much. Except for Shake Shack.

    Finally, it was time to leave. When Mrs Froggee wasn’t looking, I packed the bran flakes, corn flakes and five paid-for rolls of toilet paper in our bags. You can take the boy out of Scotland but you sure as heck ain’t ever gonna take the Scotland out of the boy. Rather than go through the palaver of two cars, loading and unloading luggage and aunties of unknown provenance I decided it would be best if Gong Gong retrieved the car on our penultimate day after dinner so I booked a car to the airport. We had our last dinner, failing to get into Ichiban Boshi so instead hit up the food court one last time. Paw Paw gave the boys red packets containing S$200 which bought their lifetime loyalty (or until better offers received), offered some final instructions on how Mrs Froggee should lead her life and raise her children and as she got into the car, almost in a whisper, said to me “you know Froggee, your boys are lovely”. I wanted to shout “TELL YOUR DAUGHTER THAT” but instead said thank you.

    Airport transfer

    There were cheaper options but I plumped for Prime Aces Limousine for airport transportation largely based upon the merits of a YouTube clip where a very keen man called Lawrence showed the various combinations of people and luggage that could fit into one of their executive minivans. The highlight of this video is a caption which reads ‘Correction: I should’ve used “luggage” instead of “luggages” as it is an uncountable noun.’ I would argue that luggages is part of the Singlish vernacular and is perfectly acceptable in spoken English but, the point is, you know this fellow will at least have checked the brakes on the vehicles as he is clearly a details guy.

    Prime Aces Limousine

    The transfer cost S$98.10. Our driver duly turned up several minutes early, suited and booted. He successfully loaded our luggage and we were off to the airport in executive comfort to the dulcet tunes of Kenny G. I say the airport but technically it was the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.

    Crowne Plaza Changi Airport and the Jewel

    I had decided it was preferable to pay S$311.74 for a day room at the Crowne Plaza than another S$755 for our apartment. Particularly as I had heard such great things about the Jewel. I’m a sucker like this.

    Check in was pretty smooth at the Crowne Plaza where I was rewarded for my loyalty and exulted Diamond status with a room upgrade and the promise of free drinks although on opening the offered envelope in the room it contained an invoice and nothing else. We left our bags and immediately headed for the Jewel which as the sucker’s sucker I felt compelled to experience for myself. I had thought it would be quiet given it was the middle of a school day but, oh no, it was rammed. We thought we might dine at Food Junction but there was not a table to be had anywhere so instead I dropped S$120.15 at Itacho which I would generously describe as second-rate Japanese. The food came randomly. Sometimes on robots. I had long finished my main course when my three gyoza eventually arrived. And I left hungry.

    We made our way to the Canopy Park which is apparently a playground for everyone. Everyone. Even cynical middle-aged men? Everyone. Having persuaded Mrs Froggee to sign up for Changi Rewards, I got a discount, but still paid S$48.20 including a shot at the walking net which I thought looked like it might be fun. It turned out that Freddo is seriously afraid of heights which we must have somehow missed up until now. He froze after the initial climb up and started bawling while clinging to the net for dear life. There seemed little chance of moving him as he entered full on dear-in-headlights mode. Luckily this cannot be that rare an occurrence as Changi had a man for this. He appeared from nowhere and persuaded Freddo to take his hand as well as my hand and walk to the end. This was fortunate as Freddo tends to respond to commands from strangers in positions of authority. Eventually we made it to solid ground. I looked down, and suddenly realised what Freddo had been freaking out about as you could see down several storeys which was indeed highly scary. Eek. Our rescuer insisted on taking a family photograph for us where Mrs Froggee and Kermit looked joyous, I looked quietly amused and Freddo had the look of a hostage who had just been told the prisoner swap was off.

    I had never realised that when Dante wrote about the seven levels of purgatory, he was foreseeing the Jewel. As we made our way back to the Crowne Plaza along the greed level, Mrs Froggee ducked into the Sanrio Store because, you know, Hello Kitty. This left me to escort the boys to the Pokémon store because, you know, I don’t regret my life choices enough already. In the Pokémon store, they blast you with loud music while children repeatedly ask if they can get something and members of staff try and thrust baskets at you as behavioural psychologists have established that there is a higher chance you will buy more tat if carrying it is easier. I was out of my depth but thankfully Mrs Froggee arrived and took charge. Kermit was allowed one box of Pokémon cards and Freddo one significantly-overpriced-given-how-small-it-was cuddly toy. S$66.40. This was deducted from the red packets Paw Paw gave them when we got home and Mrs Froggee converted the Singapore dollars to sterling. This had the uncanny result of being neutral for the boys, negative S$66.40 for me and plus S$66.40 for Mrs Froggee.

    My relief at exiting Pokémon was brief as Mrs Froggee then wished to return to Sanrio where she expected me to able to divine whether a small or medium T-shirt would fit her best. I dunno. I mean, if you try it on, I’ll happily tell you if it makes you look fat or not but waving a T-shirt in front of you on a clothes hanger is not within my skill set. Recognising that I was out of my depth Mrs Froggee sought the assistance of a trained professional who offered the words of wisdom that the medium would be a looser fit and the small a snugger fit. Mrs Froggee bought the small. (It was very snug.) I was pleased as we could now go back to the Crowne Plaza.

    Except we could not as we walked an entire loop around level two of the Jewel before realising that the link bridge to terminal three was on level three. I probably would have kept walking but being a professional shopper, Mrs Froggee remembered the shop names and doubted that there was more than one Foot Locker. We eventually made it back to our air-conditioned room where Freddo immediately went to the toilet which made me regret the decision to give up our apartment which benefited from separate bathrooms for big and little people.

    After some screen time where the boys became increasingly annoying in their interactions with each other, I determined it was time to take them swimming, thus allowing Mrs Froggee her statutory sleepy time. The pool at the Crowne Plaza was weird, combining swimming pool with architectural feature/maze. The boys immediately determined that we would be playing hide and seek which was kind of fun (although probably not for the other users of the swimming pool) until I could not suppress the nagging feeling that Freddo would sustain a proper head injury on one of the many right angles in play.

    So, I cajoled them into swimming a few laps which they did. It then became apparent that there was a pretty young lady of about Kermit’s age, wearing a delightful red swimming cozzie, who had a keen interest in the boys. She had been bobbing around nearby, frequently mimicking what they did. Then when they took off for laps, she led the way. The boys were completely oblivious to the poor girl. It is crazy to think that we are but a couple of years away from when I imagine Kermit would give his right hand for the interests of a girl like that. By then she will undoubtedly have moved on with her life. After Kermit steadfastly refused to do any more laps with his trademarked “me on strike, me hug daddy like a koala bear” I then concluded there was no option but to play Smashie Bros which is a surefire way for all three of us to expend quite a bit of energy. With this initiation of violence, the lady in red immediately decanted herself to the other end of the pool. Smashie Bros was a success in that nobody was hurt. As long as you do not count a twinge in my back. But it’s fine – I had wisely booked an osteopath appointment for when we got home.

    Cobwebs well and truly dusted off we returned to the room where Mrs Froggee had gone so far as getting into bed for sleepy time. Luckily, she had just woken as we returned. And by “just” I mean the door slamming woke her. But she had been given the gift of 75 minutes without children so her spirits were clearly lifted. We then mixed showering with screen time and, shortly before the appointed 8pm checkout time, headed to departures.

    Changi Airport Departures

    Check in was swift, instant immigration was taken for granted by Kermit which will probably cause problems on our next trip to the States, then on the advice of the hive @ Headforpoints, we bypassed the British Airways lounge, which I figured would be rammed, and made our way to the Qatar lounge. It was indeed a quiet haven. The toilets were exquisite although I could not for the life of me work out if the trough was a urinal, something for watering the Qatari royal family’s livestock, or to be used for cleaning your feet. So, I used a cubicle.

    Dinner was a strange affair. It was pretty much like a restaurant except for three small differences. The first was positive in that there was no bill at the end. The second was not bad either in that there was a separate cold buffet. The third was slightly more problematic. Tempura prawns please said Mrs Froggee. Out of stock said our waiter. Ah, chicken satay then please. Out of stock. Spring rolls, I guess. Out of stock. Sushi platter? Of course, said the waiter. I was blessed in that my first choice of shitake mushroom soup was in stock. Mrs Froggee ordered a second one hoping Kermit might have it. But with a fairly limited menu and fairly limiting children, things are not looking great when they do not have the three most child-friendly starters. On to the main courses. Two Pad Thai says Mrs Froggee. Of course, said our waiter. Mushroom ravioli said I. Out of stock said our waiter. This was 8:30pm and the Doha flight was not until 2am. Would they replenish their stocks or would those wishing to eat later than us be forced to eat bread, butter and ham from the buffet just like Freddo? I was relieved to be allowed the lamb shanks.

    Mrs Froggee went to the buffet to try and scavenge a dinner for Freddo to be told by our waiter that on further investigation, only one Pad Thai was in stock. She then chose chicken congee, probably on the basis that nobody in their right mind would want chicken congee for dinner. Her hunch was right as they still had that.

    The mushroom soup was excellent. Kermit tried it, said it was good, ate the garlic bread and then decided he would let Mrs Froggee eat the soup. The sushi was apparently acceptable to Kermit. The Pad Thai was not. So, Mrs Froggee got that to accompany her congee. My lamb was yummy but Kermit took one of the two shanks and based upon their size we were eating a newborn. I considered ordering a second lamb but Kermit said he was full, probably on account of having eaten lots of bread and butter. Bread and butter was also Freddo’s dinner, supplemented with three pieces of ham, two bananas, some crudités, some fruit and the last mini chocolate tart in stock which was taken from me without any further consideration.

    We made our way to the gate in plenty of time and settled into seats 52&53 A&B with, you guessed it, direct aisle access for Kermit.

    Our flight pushed back at 11:22pm and took off 20 minutes later which was excellent. Normally I would not name names but the member of cabin crew looking after us was called Gino and was a class act. He was very droll which is my kind of humour. He spoke to the children like they are actual people which turns out to be remarkably effective, and was proactive in ensuring all was well. And the plane was very clean, at least by British Airways’ standards.

    Sleep was not great for us grown-ups given the number of coughers on board, two synchronised snorers, and the amount of foot traffic from all of those seeking the joy of the large front A380 toilets. The boys slept like dogs. I’ll take that. We were at the gate at Heathrow 15 minutes before the flight was due to land. This was superb as our connection was scheduled at 85 minutes which is eminently missable.

    Heathrow Airport

    After stopping so Kermit could tie his shoelace, and a detour to the toilets on account of Freddo (although Kermit obviously needed to go too) we then tunnelled our way to flight connections. Passport control was quick and picture taking beepy machine was immediate. It appeared that Fast track was open except all it did was save us walking around an additional tensile barrier before the escalator spat us out into what was by far the longest queue at security along with everyone else.

    Both Mrs Froggee and I were unamused at this and, in unison, ducked under the tensile barrier so as to head to one of the near empty adjacent queues. “Where do you think you’re going?” barked the security queue dragon. We said where we were going, to be told in no uncertain terms to get back in our queue as they “have plans” for us. WTF. The people in front were annoyed on our behalf. Many more people joined the queue some of whom also received the “where do you think you’re going” treatment. A supervisor came along, presumedly to tell the security queue dragon to keep building the queue. With Mrs Froggee’s permission I asked the dragon what exactly the plans for us were. I was informed that everyone transferring was to be processed in this queue because it was by far the quickest as it did not require us to take anything out of our bags. I considered asking if she genuinely believed it would be quicker than the adjacent queue which was down to zero people but she had already shown me her back.

    As we approached the front, we happened upon an altercation between the same dragon and a couple. The man was most aggrieved and was accusing her of being “racist to disabled people”. One of the security scanning team immediately joined her, posturing as aggressively as he could with arms folded and forearm tattoos on display. An argument ensued where it was at least agreed that the accusation was of discrimination against disabled people and not racism. It was pointed out that not all disabilities are visible and they had a badge they could have shown the dragon if she had asked nicely and nobody should speak as she did to them. I would have stayed for more but we got called to the security belt which would have been great if there had been any trays to put out possessions on. But there were not. At least the lady staffing the belt was nice. We waited. Eventually the lady gave up and fetched some trays herself. Everybody had to stand in the new improved magic voguing machine which saved me a secondary screen. All our bags made it through first time so if there had not been a whole bunch of other transferring passengers then this totally would have been the quickest screening queue.

    Oh well. For the first time in all my flights up to Edinburgh we were leaving from the B gates which meant we got to retrace half of our steps in the tunnel completing the trifecta of C-A-B at terminal 5. As we headed that way Kermit asked if we paid a lot of money for Fast Track. I explained it was included in the fare but yes, it is more money. “So you just paid a lot of money for a woman to shout at you daddy”. Well, I think she was shouting at everyone Kermit but yeah, kind of.

    The comparison with Changi was stark indeed.

    We only had time for a very brief pitstop at the lounge. This was a shame as the breakfast offering in the B gates lounge seemed better than normal. In the time it took the boys to wolf down some sausages and Mrs Froggee and I to take headache pills we had to go. “I need the toilet” said Kermit. Of course you do, thought I. Off Kermit went. We waited in the reception area. After a bit I was sent to retrieve Kermit although I am not quite sure how that was meant to work. Thankfully he appeared as I made a beeline for the toilets.

    Heathrow to Edinburgh

    Boarding was remarkably civilised on account of there being very few passengers left. I started to get nervous about the prospect of Mrs Froggee’s carry-on bag not being situated directly above her and the likely consequences for me. But luckily the business class section was fairly quiet so all was well. We then got to wait on the plane for stragglers who I am guessing were also on connecting flights. The flight was smooth and breakfast #3 was duly ordered. Once he had finished his breakfast, Kermit needed the toilet. Again. He was sitting in the window seat next to Mrs Froggee so she duly passed me both their trays so he could get out. Freddo waited until I had positioned what was now the fourth tray on our tables before declaring he needed the toilet also. I have more faith in the strength of Freddo’s bladder so I made him wait. Freddo survived.

    Edinburgh Airport Arrivals

    On landing, I checked my phone and was slightly unnerved to note that one of our cases had last been spotted in the Peak District National Park 35 minutes ago. However, the Edinburgh baggage handlers did an exemplary job retrieving it and we really did not have to wait too long for our bags at all. I spent £62.30 at M&S Simply Food which was good going as it did not involve any sausage rolls. Our car was in the furthest possible space in the FastPark car park which I guess was still closer than the short stay car park and we were on our way home.

    I’d describe the holiday as tolerable which is pretty good by our standards. I have already booked to go back next year although this time the whole family will be going to Hong Kong so I will need to find a different excuse to avoid the big family dinner.

    The end.

    can2 575 posts

    I read the whole story!

    Lovely, as always!

    yorkshireRich 220 posts

    I also read the whole story.

    Extremely entertaining, and I’m sure some of us can all relate in some way.

    That’s one thing BA is pretty good at, there’s usually a member of crew on board that’s very droll and it’s usually me and that said droll guy that hit it off like a house on fire. I remember a couple of yes ago a crew member went down the plane asking what drink everyone would like, and he said “oh these northern folk will want the bludy lot”. He also could tell I wasn’t overly keen with my South African breakfast and asked if I wanted an omelette. I said “I thought we were landing”. His reply “narr you take your time, I’ll ask pilot to do another loop round the Thames for you”.

    As for landing at Heathrow, and noticing the stark contrast. Can you even begin to imagine some peoples reactions when they go from Singapore, via Doha then land at Manchester? The horror when you walk what feels like 10 mins from the air bridge to immigration and not one moving walkway is working, oh and then you pay a pound for the trolley. I’m tempted to arrive at Heathrow and pay for the gourmet meal in M&S and trundle up norff jet lagged next time just so I don’t endure it.

    Would you say that the Jewel is a must visit? I had planned on visiting in September and staying at CP but now I’m besties with the GM at the hotel I stayed at in March, I’m going to head back there (and probably won’t leave a minute before I have to).

    I do vaguely remember the urinals in the QR lounge. Tbh I felt abit out of place in there as it was very quiet and I had some lady across from us who obviously had a lot of wine just stare at my baby, shake her head then walk off. I don’t think we officially were meant to bring the hand luggage trolley with a baby seat on for baby in the lounge, but no one said otherwise. I had a sprite and then went off on my merry way. I’ll try the food one day.

    I know my analysis and observations aren’t in any sort of order, but touching on Singapore arrivals. There can’t be an airport in the world that’s any quicker can they?

    Lastly, do you think the children of yours appreciate the style of travelling? I’m thinking of putting mine in the hold so she can get the mindset of doing well at school, or be very good at learning avios. Sounds like they are pretty chilled with it all.

    Glad you had a great trip.

    John 1,050 posts

    Oh dear. As a half Singaporean myself I am going to have to reread all the previous reports with this new information about Mrs Froggee.

    lollyfry 50 posts

    I love reading your reports Froggee, so funny as normal!

    AJA 1,127 posts

    I like the way you decided to travel to Singapore just to stop the MiL coming to Froggee towers in EDI. The thing is, I do wonder if Mrs Froggee tricked you into it and there never was an intention for MiL to travel to you.

    By the way, your trip report made me check if I got my cashback from Amex for The Fullerton and sad face as it hasn’t arrived. So now I need to chase Amex!

    Froggee 987 posts

    You’re very kind @can2 and @lollyfry. Here’s some bonus content as I buried a micro trip report in another thread yesterday. Travels and travails are one and the same for us. @John Mrs Froggee isn’t like all the other Singaporeans. Thankfully she wasn’t so familiar with British culture as to identify me as a weirdo before agreeing to marry me. She just put all the quirks down to cultural differences. Sucker!

    https://www.headforpoints.com/forums/topic/tour-group-or-going-alone-easter-island-and-atacama/


    @yorkshireRich
    – I feel your pain on Manchester. I’ve actually never departed from it but have arrived into it a few times and transited through it several. I remember my father being very unamused the time I booked him and my mum back from Singapore (with BMI points back in the good old days) and he connected at MAN from the SQ flight onto some itty bitty turbo prop up to Edinburgh. “God awful were the choice words.

    It’s funny on the Jewel how they’ve managed to create this impression of it. It’s a very impressive but very busy shopping mall. That is it. My understanding is the airlines expect you to check in your bags and then go straight into the terminal but there is nothing to stop you checking in your bags and then going to look at the massive waterfall and lush greenery of the Jewel, take a picture for instagram, and then go back to your actual terminal.

    I would do a day room at the Crowne Plaza again. But not because of the Jewel! It saved quite a bit of money and the last day on a trip like that is always a bit weird anyway. I tend to find we kick about the accommodation pretending to pack and taking twice as long packing as a result. This way we were packed up, in-situ and good to go and it was something different. And showering in a hotel room is always going to be a more pleasant experience than showering in any lounge.

    Thank you for confirming that they are urinals in the QR lounge – I really wasn’t sure!

    I have been as quick as at Changi at many other airports but not consistently which is the point. And the fact they have people to help you rather than shout at you is what matters.

    I am very worried about the boys taking for granted what they have. Both Mrs Froggee’s father and my father came from humble backgrounds and we were both educated in the state system. Mrs Froggee never went on a family holiday as a kid. I went no further than Cornwall between the ages of 7 and 15. We have been fortunate.

    Freddo is already interested in the world of frequent flyer points and indeed at breakfast asked me how much a frequent flyer point is worth. I have tried to make them understand that we are very fortunate flying business class long haul and have also emphasised that because we use points there is a good chance that one of these days we will be downgraded. Our next long haul will be EDI-MCO which will be in premium economy so no bed for the boys on the day flight going there. And being Edinburgh based we do our fair share of Ryanair.

    I remember once having a meeting with a Singaporean CEO. His family owned the business so net worth in nine figures. His secretary knocked on the door checking he hadn’t made a mistake asking for Economy class on a work trip to Europe. “That’s the one my family are joining me on” said he. Maybe he didn’t have lower back issues though?

    Love the BA anecdote. It just reiterates my point in the bonus content link above that I like meeting people not automatons. But I’d rather have an automaton than a Heathrow Security Queue Dragon!

    Jill Kinkell 159 posts

    40 mins of entertainment over tea and toast to start the day. My 4 yr old granddaughter is no stranger to flying as grandparents live in 3 different countries. Her cries of ‘Susan’ ( that’s the name she’s given the horse) as she scampers along the FW corridor to the lounge can be cute, but somewhere along the line a dose of good old economy, extensive security queuing and group 9 boarding – minus cabin bags- would be good for her in the years to come!

    peterH 11 posts

    Great report as always with some genuine laugh (ok more snort) out loud moments. Made me reminisce about happy trips to both HK and Singapore, and caused pangs of hunger remembering meals at Tim Ho Wan in the former.

    strickers 723 posts

    Wonderful as always @Froggee. Partly in a ‘I’m happy my brats have fled the nest’ kind of way but mostly in the joy of reading you well-written account.

    The Savage Squirrel 599 posts

    Loved it Froggee. One of your best! Will you ever forgive Mr McToadrick for ditching you at the rugby and restore him to best friend status though?

    tootsci 75 posts

    A thoroughly entertaining read – thank you!

    Froggee 987 posts

    @AJA Ha! Mrs Froggee did not wish to move to Singapore even though work would have been delighted to have me there so I doubt it.


    @The-Savage-Squirrel
    No. If I had better interpersonal skills I would have long replaced him. As it is the top spot will probably just remain vacant.

    Misty 289 posts

    Loved it as always.

    DanielD 18 posts

    Another wonderful read – thank you!!

    TicknBash 50 posts

    Legendary trip report as always. Puts the quality of writing by most writers / journalists to shame.

    How wrong was I to ‘wind down’ reading the forum after securing a 1am booking. It was impossible to read half of this and resume in the morning.

    stankpa 36 posts

    Wonderful read, thank you for sharing

    kelliea1 97 posts

    Loved reading this!

    PMG 23 posts

    This review was great!

    My wife has also hates Cornflakes in Singapore compared to UK, apparently they are the worst thing ever, for context she used to eat 3 bowls a day in the UK 🫣

    (We live very close to Great World so glad you enjoyed it 😊)

    strickers 723 posts

    Small cornflake anecdote, many years ago whilst stationed in the Falkland Islands the only milk available was UHT, cornflakes tasted awful. There was a dairy farm that we passed on the way to and from Port Stanley, we weren’t supposed to buy it and they weren’t supposed to sell it to us because it was unpasteurised! One of the things difficult to obtain on the Islands were newspapers, so armed with some week old editions flown in from the UK we traded them for milk, nobody had broken the rules as no money had exchanged hands. The cornflakes the next morning, roughly 3 months into a 4 month deployment tasted sublime, this ended up not being our last visit to the dairy.

    NorthernLass 8,267 posts

    Wonderful, @Froggee! Having adored all the Kevin Kwan books, I am now desperate to know if that is the life Mrs Froggee led before being whisked away to Scotland?!


    @Strickers
    – don’t get me started on UHT! How can a process which is supposed to preserve milk actually make it taste like it’s gone off?

    SamG 1,683 posts

    I’m so glad someone else has the same though about that Qatar urinal !!

    Great report, very amusing , thanks for sharing!

    Random Punter 11 posts

    Hurrah – this has made my Saturday morning. A delight as always – thank you Froggee. As someone who spent a biggish chunk of my childhood in Singapore and HK I am gearing up to take my clan soon. My (Yorkshire) wife can’t deal with prolonged heat or humidity, and my 10 year old son doesn’t like heat, crowds or Asian food so I reckon we’ll have a great time 😀. It is really sad to hear about HK. I haven’t been for 10 years and am worried that I will find it depressing going back now.

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