• Bruce

Day 4: Taipei to Singapore

We started the day with the most important meal, a wonderful breakfast buffet at the Grand Hyatt. One unexpected bonus: they had a bucket of Yakult yogurt drink on ice, which we both love.

Initially, we had a 5pm flight out of Taipei, but it was cancelled due to the virus and we were rescheduled to a 2pm departure. That meant we had to check out after breakfast and head straight to the airport. We decided to take the airport shuttle from our hotel since it was raining and we didn’t want to carry our luggage on the subway. The bus ride took a bit longer, but it was comfortable. Taoyuan Airport was eerily quiet, with very few travelers milling around the giant departures hall.

We headed to the Singapore Airlines Business Class check-in desk and got our tickets. I booked these tickets using 2 x 52000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards. This covers both the flights from Taipei to Singapore and Singapore to the Maldives. It’s not a bad redemption by most standards, but also not the best value I could have gotten. KrisFlyer, however, offers the best availability for Singapore Airlines award tickets and I didn’t have a lot of flexibility since I needed to fit this into the larger Round the World ticket.

Both of our luggages were full so I brought out an expandable backpack to carry the extra items. We decided just to keep the backpacks with us and check in our suitcases. Security and customs were quick, after which we headed upstairs to the lounge level. We first visited the Singapore Airlines Lounge for some food. The selection was quite good and we enjoyed a light lunch here.

Afterwards, we went across the hall to the EVA Star Lounge. EVA operates four different lounges at their home base of TPE, with access determined by whether you are a EVA Elite, Star Alliance Gold or Star Alliance business class, a cardholder of EVA’s Amex Platinum or flying Royal Laurel. The Star Lounge was quite large and had an extensive buffet. Unfortunately, we were too full to eat anymore. I took a shower in one of the private suites and just relaxed before our flight.

We boarded first, turning left down the Business Class jet bridge to the first door of this 10 month old Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. Singapore Airlines is famous for being consistently ranked as one of the top airlines in the world, especially for their premium long-haul cabins. However, they recently upgraded their short haul regional product (like this flight) with these new Dreamliners, which offers a similar long-haul quality for short-haul prices.

These cocoon-like shell seats are laid out in a 1-2-1 staggered configuration, with alternating center seats positioned right next to each other, earning the nickname “honeymoon seats”. The side console and Alcantara shells offer great privacy and a luxurious feel. Overall, these seats are very impressive for a short 4 hour flight and better than many carriers' long haul products. The main complaint I’ve heard for these seats are that they are too narrow. I didn’t find any issues with the width and the two armrests can come down to give more space when in bed mode.

After wiping down the seats, I settled in with some pre-departure champagne. There were no amenity kits on the short flight so I brought my EVA one. We received our menus, but both of us had pre-ordered our meals via Singapore Airlines Book the Cook Service. Yes, I was also watching the live action Lion King.

Lunch service started shortly after takeoff with a drink and mixed nuts. I got a Singapore Sling, a signature cocktail that is dangerously tasty.

For the appetizer, my fiancée had a smoked salmon salad. She doesn’t eat salmon so I had it instead - very refreshing and tasty.

I ordered the Chinese set meal which started with a series of intricately made cold dishes - also very good.

For the main course, my fiancée had a braised duck dish that she pre-ordered.

I had a braised beef dish that was a part of the Chinese set menu. The beef was very the tender and the sauce was delicious.

For dessert, I had a brown sugar milk pudding - a popular Taiwanese treat.

I also had some grapes from the cheese cart. I was absolutely stuffed after all this - I felt like I’ve just been eating non-stop for the whole day. I took a nap for a couple hours and had some TWG Tea when I awoke. I’ve really been enjoying tea recently and TWG is a high-end Singaporean brand. They had an extensive tea menu on this flight so I tried out a couple.

Not pictured here, but behind this cup, they provided a small dish to put your teabag in. This is a very minor but thoughtful touch that I really appreciate. Service was excellent throughout this flight and the flight attendant was very happy to take some pictures for us. We landed in Singapore at about 6:30pm local time in Terminal 2 of Changi Airport. Immigration was quick and we got our bags right away with the priority baggage tags.

For our short 1 day layover in Singapore, I booked the Crowne Plaza Changi Hotel which is conveniently located inside the airport. We planned to stay at Changi Airport for most of this layover, with the main attraction being the new Jewel complex. We had visited Singapore together a couple years ago, and I had visited once even before that. Singapore is one of my favorite cities in the world, so I can never pass up an opportunity to stop by.

Like many things in Changi, the Crowne Plaza here is consistently ranked the best in its class of airport hotels. Crowne Plaza is part of the IHG Group of hotels. I was actually given IHG Spire Elite status from work, which is their top status. However, unlike Marriott, Hyatt or Hilton, IHG status is pretty worthless. I got a couple of free drink vouchers that I never got a chance to use and a reduced rate for the club lounge. While the hotel itself was nice (but also expensive), a don’t expect a lot of freebies.

We did find a small cake and letter congratulating us for our honeymoon, which was a nice touch. Although, my fiancée didn’t like being referred to as just “partner”.

One thing my fiancée loved about Singapore was the Keisuke ramen chain. They offered unlimited bean sprouts and hard boiled eggs with their ramen - basically her three favorite things. I found one of these restaurants relatively close by, about halfway between the airport and the city. We took the MRT to Paya Lebar Square for dinner. Everything seemed business as usual in Singapore - very few people were wearing masks and there were plenty of people moving about. It took a while to find the restaurant and when we did, there was a long line out the door - but it was worth it.

We briefly walked around Paya Lebar Square but didn’t stay too long since there were a lot more shops at the Jewel. We took the MRT back to Changi Airport and stopped by the Jewel for its nightly light show. It was very beautiful and calming.

We explored the surrounding shops as they were getting ready to close, including the Pokémon Center. We will be back tomorrow for a full tour. Good night from Singapore.