This past Idul Fitri holiday marked the first Eid holiday that we spent outside our hometown. Usually, in the past few years, every Eid holiday was spent meditating at home, with me being a faithful nanny/maid 24/7. Enough said, we planned this holiday thoughtfully and decided to visit a-not-too-far place for our destination. Tickets, hotel vouchers and passports checked, we finally landed at our destination, only to realize that we weren’t exactly flying away from our hometown despite the passport and the different currency. We still vacationed in a place we called home, complete with its culture, its language, its food and most importantly, its people. This place, which we thought so carefully in the beginning of our trip, was called Singapore “Welcome (back) to the (2nd) Indonesia”.
Singapore was swarmed with Indonesians everywhere. This holiday particularly, the Indonesians went vacationing with their big families, stretching out to 3 generations mostly, plus uncles, aunties, cousins and many more. Everywhere we went, stress-faced Indonesian mommies taking care of their babies and toddlers were to be seen. Some were lucky enough to have a nanny or maid trailing behind them. The bittersweet of Lebaran holiday only true Indonesians can understand.
As hard as we tried to avoid Orchard and the hotels there, we ended up surrounded by all Indonesian guests in our hotel, the brand new spectacular MBS. The check-in process was also spectacular, in both lines and times. It took average 20 minutes waiting time to reach the check-in counter. This iconic hotel was definitely not just an ordinary hotel, mind you, so they tried very hard to compensate the counter’s waiting time by offering many fringe benefits such as circulating welcome drinks, fruits, roses, having clowns/mimes performing, and organizing a live musical symphony in their lobby. Seriously, who wanted to listen to them playing classical music when we were so tired and upset from queuing in lines? But, aside from the classical symphony, the rest of the benefits were appreciated.
For those of you who had spent time in MBS before, you know what I am describing here. This hotel was not just a hotel. It was a new icon for Singapore and its presence has lifted the bar for this industry. This was our second time in MBS, so, unlike other new comers, we skipped the lobby photo taking sessions and the “wows” and “ahhs”. Also, my feet were too sore from standing up too long in the lobby.
The clown kids surely enjoyed their stay. Too much, I think. We took our chance to watch the famous Lion King performance, and totally awed by their stage and costume design. Nina was enjoying the show too much that she couldn’t sit quietly during the entire show. When one of the guard approached her and told her to sit down, my 4 year old turned to her with a wide smile and asked,"Are you the police?"
The highest floor in MBS was the 57th floor. That was where the pool, the bar, and the viewing deck were located. The elevators we rode in and out of our hotel room also the one that people use to go up to the swimming pool at 57th floor. That means, in most occasions, we would be sharing lift with people dressed in their hotel robes or in their swim robes. Of course, my 4 year old too-friendly-girl greeted these people with,"You look so cool. Are you ninja?" I pretended that I was suddenly interested in the floor while my husband politely smiled at those “ninjas”.
When the night came, the hotel burst into night life by welcoming many people to their “it”club and bar upstairs. The lift was crowded again , this time with people dressing up for all-night-long parties And, as expected, my girl immediately share her comment rather too loudly in the lift," Ma, why are these people dressing up so sexy? They wear lipstick, you know, Ma..." It was my turn now to smile politely at the sexy gorgeous ladies. I made a fierce mental note to take the stairs to the 49th floor next time around.
My 8year old son took his comments mostly inside the cabs and in the streets. Every time a cool expensive sport car came trotting by, he would shout and got excited. He, then, would spell out the details about that sport car, as if he was facing an examination at school. Most of the cab drivers there chatted merrily with my son on the topic of sport cars.
"You haven’t seen a Lambo before, boy?"
"Yes, I have. I drive one too."
"Where? In Indonesia?"
"Yup, in iPad."
That was the cue for us to interfere. My husband would smile softly and explained to the confused cab driver, " He’s talking about a game in iPad."
" Ahhh , I see."
Mike’s dream (and his father's) of riding a sport car was finally came true one breezy morning when they rented a Ferrari for a short drive. The drive itself maybe short, but the excitement before and after the drive lasted a lifetime. So did the rental bill, unfortunately.
When it was our turn to drive, my husband and Mike had to huff and shuffle their way to their waiting car, rented car, outside. It was not that the park was crowded and all, it just that their Ferrari, rented Ferrari, was surrounded by tons of innocent looking tourists, posed for photographs with the red Ferrari as the background. I can imagine how proud my boys must be, when they said "excuse us, excuse us" to those excited tourists and enjoyed their 1 minute admiration from the crowd. I practically heard the crowd gasped when my boys opened their car’s, rented car, doors. Geez, these tourists must have thought that my husband owned this red Ferrari.
"Well, technically.., " said my husband with a grin, "We do own this car, honey... for the next 30 minutes..."
Eating time was proved to be a challenging adventure too in Singapore during this holiday season, even when it was not an official holiday for most Singaporeans. But with a lot of Indonesians flying there, Singapore celebrated too. Welcome to the super duper crowded food courts and hawkers every hours of the day. We literally had to wait next to an occupied table and hovered over the incumbents if we wanted to get seats. This situation sometimes created a few funny moments as well. We always greeted strangers in English, only to find out that we were all from the same ‘kampung’. We laughed, "Tau getu, kita gak usah susah-susah ngomong Inggris ya tadi. Sama-sama dari Indonesia ini."
Nevertheless, it was a memorable trip for us. Checking-out turned out to be as horrendous as the checking-in, especially with that classical music playing live as our goodbye soundtrack. But, I loved my stay there, so minor queues would not die me down.
Bye, my second Indonesia. Hello, Jakarta!