Family Reunion

Wow, what an incredible thing to be able to say that my parents traveled halfway around the world to come and visit me in Singapore! It’s especially amazing because my mom hates flying – absolutely hates it. So a 15-hour flight didn’t really sound like her cup of tea. But she braved the journey anyways, with the right mindset – she treated it as her own personal spa day. Naps, movies, and people bringing you food – what could be better? So after a breezy COM 101 exam, I rushed over to their hotel to meet them! I was able to leave with Katie and Brad too, because it just so happened that their families flew in to visit on the exact same day! So the three of us excitedly boarded the MRT, and then parted ways to meet our families. My parents and I stayed at the Pan Pacific hotel for the first part of their stay. It was fun to get to stay in a hotel in Singapore for a change, instead of a boarding school dorm. A ~slight~ upgrade, to say the least. It was probably one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in – there were giant glass pods for elevators, and in the middle of the lobby was a pool with floating tables for the restaurant. Incredible.

And it was so good to see my parents; it had been almost 2 months! We walked around the marina and I showed them all of the beautiful buildings, we got pizza for dinner at an Italian restaurant, and then we watched the free marina laser light show!

My parents, although coming around the world, were determined to not eat any Asian food. They didn’t want to try any of it! We ended up eating a lot of Italian. But hey, it’s their vacation! And I was grateful to get treated to some real restaurants and take a break from hawker centers for a while.

Let me just say that I did not miss Hwa Chong during this week. I never realized how much I missed carpet, until I stepped on it in the Pan Pacific hotel room. I think I actually gasped. It’s the simple luxuries, I suppose. Also, a shower curtain and a bath mat makes for a beautiful combination. Absolutely wonderful.

So over the next few days, we explored Singapore. Some of what we did was based on my suggestions, and others were completely new to me! My parents did a lot of research before they came and made a jam-packed schedule full of things to do. The first full day we actually ended up running into both Katie and Brad at separate times, which was nice because my parents got to meet them. One of my favorite things we did was visit the greenhouses at the Gardens by the Bay. I hadn’t seen them before, and it was really interesting to see all of the different plants and sculptures inside.

We also visited Sentosa Island, and went to the Trick Eye Museum. That was a hoot! I thought it looked really weird each time I had walked by it before, but it turned out to be a great afternoon. The idea of the museum is to take photos that are an optical illusion – there were paintings and props on the walls and ceiling, and special poses you could do that would look very cool. Take a look at some of our fun:

We also walked around to see the big Merlion (a giant replica of the original Merlion at the bay) and I held some parrots! One even “kissed” my nose! I couldn’t get any pictures, though, because they charged $35 for the professional prints. Totally lame. My dad, bless his soul, tried to sneak a photo on his phone but got yelled at. So only the memories remain!

The next day, I showed them one of my favorite spots – Haji Lane, and we explored the murals and shops. Mom ended up finding about 10 pairs of earrings that she was in love with, and even went back after we left to buy more! We also visited Little India, and I convinced them to try my favorite Indian treat – kaju burfy! They didn’t love it, but I was glad they gave it a try because they hadn’t eaten a lot of local dishes. We then made our way to the Botanic Gardens. It always seems to be about 100 degrees anytime I go to this place. I swear the only memories I have of this place are feelings of sweat and exhaustion and vague images of some flowers. But we explored the Orchid Garden and had a good time. We then went to Orchard Road. I told them that they HAD to try a Singapore favorite – bread ice cream sandwiches! They did, and my mom actually liked it! We got them from a cart on the road, and they ate them right there on the sidewalk on our way to dinner. Who ever said ice cream before dinner could spoil your appetite?

Our dinner was actually breakfast – we went to an all day brunch place called Wild Honey. What’s better than all day brunch? I’ll tell you – nothing. This was a great find of my dad’s, and once I told my friends about it we ended up going back almost every week! This place had signature brunches from all around the world, and I got my all-time favorite: English breakfast. I also got a giant frozen margarita – that’s a traditional part of an English brunch, right??

The next day was a bit different because we had to part ways – my parents headed off to Malaysia, and I went back to Hwa Chong to get ready to take an exam. The good thing about this (and there’s only one) is that I got to see my friends again. I’m not used to not seeing them every day! So we reunited in the morning for our classic SIM breakfast (kaya toast and iced kopi) and to study for the exam. I think it went pretty well. The rest of the night I packed up for Malaysia, and then the next day I flew out there to meet my parents! We went to Langkawi, a recommendation from my grandma. She was right, the place was absolutely beautiful! There were so many mountains, it reminded me of Hawaii. It was much more calm and rural than Bali or Phuket, so it was a nice change. We stayed at the Berjaya Resort, which is hands down the most beautiful place I have every stayed. It is a collection of bungalows, some in the jungle and some on the beach. Both my parents and I got our own beach chalets – and the view was stunning. This is the first time I had ever stayed in a resort – there were about 4 or 5 restaurants, a bar, a pool area, beautiful walking paths, and a tuk tuk to bring us from our rooms to the lobby.

We spent the first day at Oriental Village – a small town filled with shops, museums, and the steepest cable car in the world. I’m not a huge fan of cable cars to begin with, and this one ended up feeling like an oven with the sun beating down on us, but the views were well worth it. On the way down our cable car got stuck – we were like rotisserie chickens in there, I’m not kidding. But we ended up getting down safe and sound and a little tanner than before!

After the roasty toasty cable car ride, we did a bit of shopping around, and I got a mini surfboard keychain for Zach, as a thank you for checking me into my classes for the week. He kept me updated on what was going on in our group projects which was super helpful.

For dinner my parents and I went to the beach resort restaurant, and I was given a voucher for a 3-course meal, so I got a Caesar salad, squid ink pasta, and a fruit platter. I’m in awe of this place and the life I’ve been able to live on this side of the world.

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Our full day in Malaysia was so relaxing. Spent the day by the pool and sitting on the deck of the chalet, reading and watching the waves. The weather was perfect and it was nice to take a day off from the non-stop plans. I also convinced the ‘rents to try out the resort’s Thai restaurant, and they ended up loving it! I of course had to get my pad Thai one more time. We ate out on the water and watched one of the most gorgeous sunsets I’ve ever seen as we ate. A perfect last night in Malaysia!

The next day we left early for the airport, to fly back to Singapore. Went straight to the Marina Bay Sands hotel – the most fabulous hotel in Singapore. It’s an icon and we’ve seen it so many times, that it was so cool to tell the taxi driver to take us there! The most incredible part of the stay was definitely the infinity pool. We needed special key cards to get in, we wore our fancy resort robes, and watched the sunset from the edge of the pool. It was the most amazing pool I’ve ever been in, and I just had this moment of fascination, as I looked out over the city and thought, everyone in the city wants to be right here at this moment, and here I am! My parents and I had a ton of fun taking pics up in the infinity pool, too.

The whole time we stayed at the hotel, we were looking out for Venus Williams and other tennis players, because they were staying there that week for the WTA Women’s finals. Unfortunately, we never ran into any of them. But we did have one of the best meals in Singapore yet – a southern style restaurant called The Bird. This place had the best dang biscuits and southern style blackberry iced tea I’ve ever had. Top that off with some homemade maple butter and some fried chicken, and you’ve got yourself a freakin’ fantastic southern comfort meal.

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On my parent’s last day here, we walked around the marina one last time and saw the Merlion. I got them to pose as though they were drinking from the lion’s fountain. We also checked out the science museum. Now usually, I am a total nerd for things like this. But this museum was pretty disappointing, to be honest. Almost all of the exhibits were closed down, and the ones that were open were mostly for young kids. But we ended the night seeing the Gardens by the Bay light show, which was one of our favorite things of the entire trip. Safe to say we had a great week of exploring!

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Hi there! Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm Elyssa, an average gal with an unshakable habit of wandering the globe. Here I'll give you all the best stories, advice, and suggestions collected from my travels abroad. I've lived in New York, Boston, London, Spain, and Singapore. Now as a recent college grad, I want to share my continuing adventures with all of you! For me, there is no greater experience than discovering new places around the globe. I hope I can convey here all of the beauty and wonders that I see, and even inspire you to take on an adventure of your own.

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