Sept 3, 2012 (morning – noon)
A surprise came just a few weeks ago during the month of Ramadhan about a possibility to be nominated as a blogger/media participant for a gastronomic tour at Marina Bay Sands – Singapore. Many official tours already had been carried out previously and mostly to introduce MBS in general or to cater medias specific mission aside from culinary, but this time it’s solely only for gastronomic tour! It’s the first time carried out and also the first time ever I seen bloggers and mainstream media altogether under the same team.
We all know how exciting MBS can become for somebody who hasn’t been there before, like me for example. Last time I went to Singapore, I witnessed from across the waters that it was still under construction and that time I ponder what it’s going to be like when finished. That time I bet it’s going to be massive! Time passes by and the opportunity came eventually. It’s the usual routine like every morning but I woke up anxiously and had a sore throat. Probably it’s not a good sign but eventually I’m all hyped up and head for the airport around 4.45 in the morning, leaving my lovely wife behind on a jet plane.
The rest of the team arrived at Soekarno-Hatta airport later and we gathered up before checking-in for the flight. Alongside me were good friends of mine, Mr Burhan Abe the senior journalist turning blogger, a fellow food blogger Ms Ellyna Tjohnardi, Mr Arie Parikesit the expert culinary consultant and organizer, and Mr Jed Doble a fellow alumni or Time Out Jakarta now the managing director of Dreams magazine. The rest were the media people such as Mr Graham Pearce, Ms Galuh Tathya, Ms Bunga Sirait, Ms Muthia, and Mr Reza Idris– all came from Jakarta’s best media.
Another surprise came even before we departed and it’s not good news because Mr Abe didn’t notice that his passport has only one month left to go! Garuda Indonesia was a bit hesitant to let him go considering problems that may appear at both immigrations, not to mention also their reputation, but they managed to convince them anyway. That’s a halfway job because finally he had to encounter Singaporean immigration and that would mean another ugly business.
It was my first time with Garuda by the way and it’s pretty much the same as other economy class commercial flights I’ve been with, except that this one got an entertainment system and meals are ‘complimentary’. At around 10 am, we arrived safe and sound at Changi.
As predicted before, my friend had to be brought to the immigration office for inquiries. Equipping himself with his iPad and the official invitation, it seemed that he’s pretty confident that time. On the contrary, we all anxiously waited for him. For about 10 minutes or so, he’s finally emerged from the immigration and allowed to enter Singapore! It was a joyful time for us as we now head to our shuttle confidently and ready to take on the busy schedule ahead.
My first encounter
It was my first time at Terminal 3, pleasant and less crowded indeed. We then headed for the exit where a guy was standing by awaiting our arrival and to take us personally to MBS. Singapore was hot and humid back then but we get to enjoy a cool short ride inside a spacious van. The view of Singapore was still pretty much the same – full of greenery, clean, and generally pleasant. The newest spectacles for me were definitely the F1 circuit and MBS as clearly seen from the highway bridge. As we get closer, we witnessed also a huge skybridge heading for the latest Singaporean destination known as Gardens by the Bay. Well, plenty of things to do while I’m there but so little time also. My personal mission was to also find a chance to visit these wonderful third wave coffee shops.
It was pretty impressive to see MBS from close range. The unique architectural curves, the aesthetics, and everything about the façade gave me good first impression but once you’re inside you will witness how busy and crowded it has become. We entered the building from the basement, the drop off terminal for all the coaches heading to and from the airport. Almost every half an hour a coach will be available and it’s very convenient to use it because you don’t have to spend for taxi or even using the MRT that will took forever just to change the lines and stop at every station.
The ground floor of MBS was not that broad but certainly lengthy as it connects all the three towers. Guests queued at the receptions, people were passing by, securities were everywhere, but all the hustle bustle in the lobby were vanished as I marveled upon the architectural finesse and how bright the place was. We already received our keys and the moment of truth came as we had to head for the room first to drop our luggage.
My room was at the 20th floor out of 57 and overlooking Gardens by the Bay. The room itself seemed very enjoyable and all the view is yours to breath and savor. While I was tempted to just lie down for a while and enjoy the coolness of the room, we were already required downstairs immediately.
It’s almost 12 in the afternoon and it’s time for us to hit the mall for lunch! Today’s lunch will be at Todai – an all-you-can-eat eatery originated from the States since 1985. Mr Parikesit once told me a story about the Alaskan crabs that will available there alongside other fresh seafood and good stuffs from the many regions. He even downloaded the map of the restaurant back at his iPad. Hopefully, it’s not going to be too much of an expectation.
TO BE CONTINUED