Singapore (Part One)December 31, 2016 in Singapore
Our first glimpses of Singapore were certainly impressive - as the night arrived so did we and as we took a bus from the airport into the city we were both wide-eyed. As we spent more time here we realised that the city really comes to life at night, especially so the cityscape that we were driving past.
We had chosen to stay in central Chinatown, close to dozens of restaurants and bars as well as great transport options, plus exciting streets that had all been decorated ready for Chinese New Year. Our hotel wasn't the most impressive inside or out, but once we'd settled in our second room (the first stank of cigarettes!) we collapsed from the tiring long journey.
Our plan was to stay in Singapore for just a few days to take in all of the sights and to welcome the new year in a glitzy party atmosphere, but that didn't work out for us...
Ever since Beth's early morning visit to the doctor in Bentota, Sri Lanka she'd not been feeling right and the whole journey to Singapore was taken over by excruciating heartburn. This still hadn't passed and the itchy rash returned so we took ourselves to a GP to make sure this wasn't anything more serious.
One hour later and after some very overpriced gaviscon was ingested the heartburn passed. We also found out some of the tablets the Sri Lankan Doctor had given Beth were causing the heartburn - they promptly ended up in the bin! The rash was still present and after a few hours of relaxing at the hotel the heartburn returned once again. At this point we weren't sure what to do but ultimately decided to go to the nearby Singapore General Hospital (SGH) to see another doctor.
Firstly, unlike our Sri Lankan hospital experience SGH actually looked, felt and smelt like hospitals as we know them in the UK. The A&E area also had a four hour queue, so we were in our element! When we did finally see a doctor it was decided Beth would be admitted while they tested what was causing these problems for her.
What happened over the next three days is, again, largely similar to our experience of hospitals in the UK, going from one test to the next while troupes of doctors visit once or twice a day to poke, prod and discuss the latest test results. Initially it all felt like a bit of a waste of time as the conclusion was that it was just a nasty virus but after 2 days they diagnosed a stomach infection (C. Difficile if our Doctor friends are interested!) and began treating it with antibiotics - poor Beth was REALLY ill in the mean time though, and the rash she'd been experiencing was in fact hives caused by the infection, but the three creams and various tablets they gave her should help over the few weeks until it passes.
We were so relieved to have gone to the hospital and, as it turned out, one that is better in many ways than back home. One such thing was when Beth was served a meal of lamb stew with rice and veg, followed by fresh sliced and garnished fruit, that all tasted like real food. The best part though? The man who turned up afterwards to ask for her feedback on how the food was so far during her stay! Not only the food but the staff, systems (like a wheeled PC they used to record all the tablets given and what the doctor had determined/prescribed) and even the cleaning all were great.
For me it could have been worse as well. Our hotel was only 10 minutes walk away, making my morning to and nighttime journey back from the hospital a bit easier. In the complex there were a number of cafes, takeaways and even a food court that all served cheap and tasty food to keep me going through the long days. The staff were very friendly too and dutifully laughed at my repeating the joke that 'Our sightseeing so far had been two pharmacies, one doctor and the hospital!'
Anyway, a few hours before midnight on New Year's Eve Beth was moved to a private room (the infection is pretty contagious...) but despite being 6 floors high we, unfortunately, still had a limited view of the city. This meant we did miss the main fireworks display but there were others appearing over the city that we watched as 2017 arrived. Although not where we thought we'd welcome the new year in, it was still how we thought we'd do it - together.
The next morning - New Year's Day - at the time we thought we'd be flying to our next destination in Indonesia, Beth was discharged from hospital with a full carrier bag of medicine to take for the next two weeks. Thankfully she was feeling better overall, just weak and in need of more rest.
We changed our travel plans to stay in Singapore for a few more days so Beth could continue to recover and then we hoped to see some of the sights!
From Singapore to all our family and friends we wish you a happy new year.