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The Singapore Mirage

Updated: Apr 6

The Singapore Mirage
Marina Sands

Suffering from an insatiable itch to get back on the road, and armed with some money, my daughter and I planned a visit to Singapore during a time when COVID travel rules were changing by the moment. Undaunted by the red tape and the constant interaction with Singapore authorities on travel requirements, my partner-in-crime and I were poised to conquer the Lion City, from the bustling hawker centers to the serene evening sails. But, as I soon discovered, even the best-laid plans can disintegrate faster than ice cream melts under a Singapore summer sun.


Our adventure was supposed to kick off with a bang, starting at the end of June. The agenda? A culinary expedition, a nocturnal escapade with creatures of the Night Safari, and not to forget, the grandiose finale aboard a tall ship for a sunset dinner cruise. This wasn't just a trip; it was the first real travel after a long lockdown.


However, in a twist that would make Kafka nod in solemn agreement, our grand plans were grounded before they could take flight. My daughter and, bags packed, spirits high, went to the airport, only to be met with a resolute "We can’t board you sir!" courtesy of airline ground staff wielding outdated COVID clearance info like it was gospel. It was a scene so surreal, it felt as though we had walked into a scene of a particularly bureaucratic episode of "The Twilight Zone."


In the ensuing chaos, the travel booking site offered travel insurance morphed into a labyrinthine mess of automation, as helpful as a chocolate teapot. So much for the “protect your trip for any reason” pledge. Enter the American Express Platinum concierge, our knight in shining armor, attempting to salvage what they could from the wreckage of prepaid expenses and unyielding vendors. Yet, despite their valiant efforts, the tall ship remained as stoic as the Merlion, unyielding and indifferent to our plight, accompanied by airline cancellation penalties that added insult to injury.


In retrospect, the entire ordeal felt like a masterclass in Murphy's Law, served with a side of satirical humor only life can dish out. It was an expensive lesson learned, but not without its silver linings. For one, Haley and I discovered that our appetite for adventure could weather even the stormiest of fiascos. And, in the spirit of travel, every misadventure comes with its own set of anecdotes – this one, perhaps, being more Kafkaesque than most.


So here I am, sharing our tale of the Singapore that wasn't, a reminder that the path of travel is fraught with unforeseen detours… and some travel insurance is better than others – the devil is in the fine print.


Until our next adventure, keep your itineraries flexible, your travel insurance on speed dial, and your sense of humor ever-present.

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