Semaine Singapour Marina

From Johannesburg to Singapore: Family Travel

To the point Continuation of our Mini Round-The-World story, which we did between the end of 2019 and March 2020. From South Africa to Singapore.

Our arrival in Johannesburg

Once in Joburg, and before my mother-in-law left for France that evening, we went down to ask the hotel concierge for our car.

Jean-Maximilien had rented it that morning to make it easier for us to move around with our suitcases and visit some safe places in the city.

We couldn’t know that one of the hotel valets would block the car: stupidly, the key was left in the car which locked automatically a few minutes later.

Fortunately, the hotel manager, Catherine, was able to find a solution quickly to help us out.

A driver was assigned to us for the afternoon while the situation was settled with the rental company.

Apart from this incident, we were very happy with the hotel and the design was very appealing to us and the children.

View of the city

Our driver was very cooperative. In order to have an interesting view of the city, we had noted the Flames Restaurant, located at the Four Seasons .

Its view of the city is unique. The brunch menu was not cheap but as it was our last moments together we decided to treat ourselves. The children enjoyed it as much as we did and we felt very safe.

Note that the Four Seasons has several terraces where you can have a drink if you are interested!

Visit to the city of Joburg

Joburg Zoo

After lunch, we continued to the Johannesburg Zoo. To tell the truth, we only went there because we were next door and it was easier for our driver to find us.

The zoo has many species of animals but is not really in such good condition. There is space for the animals but the facilities were dilapidated, poorly maintained. Even though the animals looked pretty good it’s not a zoo I would recommend.

Several rides were also on site. Alexandra was delighted to be able to try two of them even if the state of the place wasn’t the best.

Our driver drove us back to our hotel so that Jean-Maximilien could accompany his mother to the airport.

City Sightseeing buses

The next day was dedicated to visiting the city onboard the red City Sightseeing buses because we did not want to leave the city of Joburg without at least having done the tour once and maybe visiting more.

The city is presented as being in full development, or transformation.

Buildings are gradually being rehabilitated to accommodate poor families. Some sections of the streets seem to be okay.

But honestly, I didn’t feel like getting off the bus with the kids at the various stops. I hesitated and then decided it was best not to.

In fact, I would have liked to go to some places but the atmosphere was heavy all the way, even on the bus. Seeing the misery of these poor people, meeting their eyes, seeing the state of the streets, of the buildings… even that hardly made us want to take pictures or get off the bus.

Arthur fell asleep halfway through the trip, which made it easier for us to choose. Perhaps we were wrong not to go further, but I would not have found it appropriate with our children.

It’s up to you to give me your opinion on the city if you had the chance to discover it.

However I must admit that the organization is rather good with the red buses.

On the red line, you can visit the famous Township of Soweto. A special bus awaits tourists with a guide at the Gold Reef Park, or you can relax at the same park which has attractions or visit the Apartheid Museum next door and at the next stop.

Visiting by ourselves

Some areas are safe. We may not have had a good view being Sunday, the streets were quite empty.

However, we went to Sandton or Melrose Arch area by ourselves (ultra-modern centres secured by guards or with large metal doors to pass through), and it gave the impression of being confined to the area. We did not feel safe once outside these “walls” and preferred not to leave them.

There was a lot of discussion about how expatriates live in this city.

We didn’t feel comfortable going arounf the city either. So we preferred to shorten the day to go back to the hotel and rest, as that same evening we took our flight to Singapore, happy to continue our trip in a new destination after several “heavy” days.

Flight Johannesburg - Singapore

There was a long wait for boarding. It was about one hour late, when we were supposed to board at 11pm. It was no mean feat to keep the children waiting. However they were patient at the airport. And Jean-Maximilien had his own way of having fun by checkint out four (!) lounges thanks to our Priority Pass unlimited subscription. Expect a lot of photo coverage to find out which is the best JNB lounge.

When they got on the plane, Alexandra and Arthur each took a seat at the window.
The flight attendants were very helpful from the beginning to the end. We were amazed by their kindness, the attention that was given to them, the crew members calling them by their first names every time. A golden team that gave us a great flight.

Here are a little more details: one of the stewardesses immediately took charge of Arthur when he arrived in the plane while I was getting settled. She put him in his seat, put on his belt and cushion, gave him water, a movie, and headphones.

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Changi Airport

Once in Singapore, we couldn’t resist going to the butterfly house first. It was waiting for us just outside the plane, hard not to go there!

The airport is large, clean and has a shopping centre next to it.

2nd stop, further on this time, at the waterfall of the Jewel shopping center, after the customs.

Several activities are available, some at set times, so check beforehand and get your ticket online. Our daughter absolutely wanted to test the net hanging on the top floor. Let’s see if we do it when we leave!

The airport is definitely worth a visit.

Neighbourhood Le Village

Once we found our taxi, after 30 minutes of driving we were finally at my family’s house (they were not there, as they were in France for the holidays) to rest from our jetlag. We went around the area that evening for some groceries (Jean-Maximilien is happy to pass on this message: the Cobalt offers 5 points in the grocery stores of Singapore).

A very nice French neighbourhood, “le Village” is surrounded by two popular food courts and several restaurants and close to the International French School.

New Year's Eve

Marina Bay Gardens

The next day, we tried to make sure that our children would last until the final countdown to the new year!

We walked through the Marina Bay Gardens, discovered the Super Trees and climbed to the top of the Skyline (30 min wait – $8 adults $4 children 3-12) where the view was very nice.

We also decided to rent a stroller for $2 until 9pm to make our lives a little easier – just in case Arthur fell asleep. In the end, he refused to use it (it would have been too easy for daddy and mommy) and slept in our arms.

After a lunch break at the local food court, we went to the Super Trees night show. A beautiful Christmas-themed sound and light show that takes place every evening at 7:45 and 8:45.

Seeing as the children were tired, for 3$ per person, the Shuttle drove us back to Bayfront avenue. Heading to the funfair to end 2019 in good spirits (the kids’ fatigue having suddenly vanished)!

Evening at Café Ferret

We continued on our way to find a place along the bay to watch the fireworks. Arthur having fallen asleep in our arms, Jean-Maximilien located an ideal place to enter, with a perfect view on the New Year’s Eve show in the bay (even if a little noisy for the children; it felt a little like a nightclub).

The package offered all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink for both us and the kids before midnight and included some alcohol afterwards. And the Cobalt offered 5 points per dollar there too!

We were able to enjoy fireworks from 9:30 p.m., making it easier for the children to wait until midnight.

I discovered a ball of drones, very impressive to see them in action all together!

After the fireworks, it’s time to celebrate. Between swaying for Alexandra on the dance floor, some souvenir photos with locals, sliding in the balls in a shopping mall, return by metro then taxi, and finally Mac&Cheese back home at 3am, the evening was memorable.

The next day and the following days were more quiet, dedicated to rest and to the reunion with our family, who had returned from the Christmas holidays in France. The children were happy to meet, play and even share a bed together!

Singapore Zoo

These last few days, we were able to rediscover the Singapore Zoo. Jean-Maximilien and I had visited it 10 years ago during our honeymoon and wanted to go back with our children because we loved it so much.

The place is beautiful, green, the animals seem well treated and healthy. A nice family outing!

FOC Sentosa Restaurant

Apart from the few food courts we went to this week, another nice place was Sentosa beach as well as the FOC restaurant in Sentosa, perfect for relaxing with the kids.

Don’t hesitate to come and have a look at it to eat with your feet in the sand, or jump in the pool!

You must pay a tax of 2$ by car to enter the zone of Sentosa.

Bottom line

In Singapore, the air is humid and the heat is permanent so much so that it is not uncommon to have frequent and short showers. This is a change from the time we had in South Africa!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful year in 2020, and to continue to earn many points in order to make wonderful trips!

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Mother of two young children, pharmacist, travel hacker's wife and frequent traveller, Audrey shares her advices and destinations recommendations on milesopedia.

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