When imagining Singapore, I only thought of tall infrastructures, a dazzling skyline and the hustle bustle of a city sprawling with tourists. I wasn’t too far off in terms of the number of tourists in Singapore but I was very pleasently surprised at the beauty of it! There was an abundant amount of trees and greenery which was so pleasing to the eyes, especially since we’ve been living in the desert for the past six months. We found ourselves with in awe of all the natural beauty and the man made structures too.
Saqib is more into city breaks and the idea of big theme parks i.e. Universal studios which also leads us to his obsession with dinosaurs which leads us to Jurassic park. I’ve been wanting an outdoor experience. More hands on. I like to be out in the wild and with nature. It just turned out so perfect to be in the middle of a country that accomodated what we were both looking for. (more hubby then me, but I got a bit of green to last me a while)The late prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew or LKY, wanted to plant as many trees as possible within the 278 sq miles of land! Such a small country but filled with such amazing people. One of the nicest people we have come across to date. Every single cab driver was well informed and well mannered. They were educated kind, generous people. Singapore is ranked 8th globally for the ‘best quality of life’. It ranks high up for education right after the top 5 scandinavian countries. It is also ranked as one of the highest ranking choices for food lovers and shoppers. Personally, i wasn’t very impressed with the food even though me and hubby are quite adventurous at trying new things!
Our first night we stayed in and caught up on our sleep (at least I did, whilst the other two used hotel facilities) The following day was Eid and we’d decided to check out Sultan Mosque and the shops down Haji Lane. Surprise surprise, we woke up super late and so by the time we arrived (mid afternoon) everything seemed to be closed. It’s a national holiday on Eid and most things open in the evening. We explored while some shops started opening their shutters. They had really cute, one of a kind pieces for homes and I was so tempted to buy it all. I ended up buying a ceramic wind chime with cute little cows and colourful beads.
Singapore is hot, not Doha hot. It’s humid. The sun was at it’s peak when we were out and we were all sticky and icky! I don’t know if I was happy or sad about the occassional blasts of air conditioner I felt walking past the shops. (imagine the carbon footprint!) On the whole though, Singapore is very much ‘green’ compared to many countries. It’s one of the cleanest countries you will find. They have a very heavy fine (maybe jail term too?) for anyone chewing gum/throwing gum on the streets. That’s how you keep a country in check. Then again, it is quite a small land so it’s easier to keep everyone in check.
Back to what I saying, it was hot so we made a stop at a cute little cafe called Shop Wonderland. I loved the decor. I loved the menu. I love love loved the ice cold drink to quench our thirst. It was so me!
We preceeded to window shop a little more before we decided the heat was too much and headed towards our next destination for the day – Gardens by the Bay.
Now, this is a gorgeous plot of land dedicated to all things botanical. There is a huge flower dome with a staggering range of flower species from carnivorous to succulents to baobabs and bottle trees. It is truly a stunning sight. It has been recorded as the biggest greenhouse in the world holding the guiness 2015 record.
Another dome situated right next to the flower dome was the Cloud Forest. This was a real beauty. Stepping in you see the big mountain top with the beautiful sound of the water falling. You take a climb on this mountain to view the stunning hidden gems and diverse vegetation with a nice view of the Marina Bay waterfront. Our eyes were hungry for some natural beauty and we coundn’t have found a better place to satisfy our need for greenery. I didn’t realise how much I would actually miss nature until I moved to Doha!
There were beautifully carved figures made from a single piece of wood scattered all over the gardens. They were stunning works of art on their own. These peices were mostly made in China and delivered especially for the gardens.
Photopost from our trip to Singapore coming soon.
The first couple of months being in Doha have seemed more like a long holiday. The fact that none of our belongings are here (apart from clothes and necessities) made it feel even more so. It has been a couple of days since we’ve moved into our compound villa. Buying furniture for the house has been exciting as well as exhausting but most importantly it’s given us the feeling of finally putting our home together. We are starting to belong.
There are a lot of pros of living in the Middle East. The luxury of having a maid, a live in nanny for those of you with children, lots of help in terms of bringing up children but at the same time there are no boundaries for them. There is endless amounts of fun, a lot of emphasis on food, gadgets, and just the general going out culture.
We have a lovely bunch of neighbours. It’s fun knowing you can ring their doorbell at any time of night and they will (mostly) be happy to see you – they are that kind of bunch. Come weekends, there’s chaos on the compound streets with kids buzzing with energy. Our weekends usually (I’m saying usually but the two weekends we’ve spent here) comprise of either home shopping or mostly eating out.
Jana desperately needed an activity to help use up energy and get her moving. We found a sports club not far from home, which has all sorts of amazing Activites for toddlers. I love that Qatar has so much emphasis on sports. In the summer the weather won’t allow for outdoor activities during the day but that doesn’t stop anyone going for it! They have indoor facilities, outdoor covered areas etc I can’t wait to try out most of these sports for Jana. (And there’s things for me to try too!) we started with toddler basketball this morning and it was amazing fun to watch her.
We’re settling into a good routine here although the only thing keeping us from being homesick is the anticipation of the next family member coming to visit us. Right now we have Saqibs brother and family visiting start of April which gives us an incentive to work towards in terms of house and getting a schedule sorted for them to make the most of their time here.
We’re also looking into finalising a school we like for Jana although it’s still very early we want to be prepared as we hear places get taken up pretty quickly.
There’s plenty to keep us occupied, a lot to look forward to.
Since being in Qatar it has been a bit lonely every now and then when we find ourselves with nothing to do but hit the malls every evening. We decided to book into a hotel to use swimming facilities etc for the weekend. Driving up to the hotel, the building seemed a bit dated as compared to the buzzing new skyline of Doha. Definitely not the prettiest but once within the vicinity it’s very nice and clean.
Staff / Service
On arrival at the Ritz Carlton, we got off at the main entrance of the hotel where one of the bell boys valet parked our car. The staff were extremely friendly and welcoming. We then made our way to check in. At this point Jana always seems to get impatient to either get to the room or start on her exploring. This was when a couple of staff members approached her to come check in with them. I honestly thought they were just trying to start a conversation with her so I laughed and told them her dad was doing it already. They then began to tell me that Jana has a separate check in! How adorable! They had a little desk for kids to climb onto and write down their name, age, draw a picture of their favourite animal and a few more details. It was colourful, they had crayons it basically just kept the child interested and busy. Another staff brought a tiny colouring pack with stickers and handed it over to Jana. I thought this was the best welcome ever. If you take care of my child, I will, obviously be less stressed, more happy and relaxed!
One of the things they mentioned on arrival was that they had a kids cinema they were running for the weekend from 11-4pm. They had a listing of movies showing and a little bar at the back of the room with free popcorn and candies and drinks for the kids! This is such an amazing idea. We only got to go in for a brief time when we were checking out but for people staying for longer can really get use out of this facility.
The pool area was wonderful. The temperature was perfect and they also had a tiny little bridge you could swim under as well as a waterfall feature. There were lifeguards constantly on duty. Always on alert when a child enters the pool and stand closer to the area. We had tiny glasses of smoothies brought to us constantly. A staff member passed us in the hallway holding a big tray of food and offered us to try some. Yummy in my tummy!
We had to switch our rooms around a couple times due to maintenance works happening on the top five floors of the hotel. It was quite noisy and the bus boy actually took us into a room that had already been checked into!! It would have been embarrassing if we’d actually caught the guest lounging in his room!! We eventually got upgraded to a suite which was incredibly spacious. Most of our time was spent outside so it didn’t really matter what the room was like. It had a lounging area and a separate room was the bedroom with two bathrooms.
We had heard reviews about this place serving one of the best brunches in the city – and oh my goodness did it live up to it. There was an amazing selection of foods from Italian to Arabic to Indian. There was a huge table set out just for bread and don’t even get me started on the desserts tables! It started from outside the dining area as that was the only room left for it. I would say there was just too much choice. The first day I behaved and ate as much as my body would allow not completely filling myself up but the second day I got greedy and just stuffed my face. Totally regretted it afterwards! It ruins the whole experience in my opinion.
My mother in law is visiting very soon (as is my father in law, for Janas birthday of course!) and we are definitely bringing them here for brunch!