Exploring Singapore

I’ve visited Singapore every year on my birthday since 2014. It’s a small city-state nestled in South East Asia. Despite the number of blogs I’ve read with detailed trip guides, I still cannot say that I have seen almost everything that the Lion City has to offer.

I WAS IN SINGAPORE FIRST IN OCTOBER 2014. This is only the second country I’ve been to outside my beloved Philippines. Thanks to its proximity, travel time takes only 2 hours and airfare is made even more reasonable by ticket sales. The moment I set foot on Changi Airport, I knew immediately I was in a territory so much larger than where I am from, economically speaking. Of course, I already knew Singapore is one of Asia’s tigers but seeing and experiencing it is an entirely different matter.Traveling really does wonders to people.

Hollywood is the ultimate destination for many of us. But it’s expensive and we all now how difficult it can be to get approved for a US visa. Philippine passport is not powerful. There is only a handful of countries that would take us without visa. While working towards that dream, Singapore has got me amazed with its architecture, infrastructure, attractions and gastronomic delights.

Needless to say, I was so happy to pose for pictures outside the Minion Mart and Shrek’s Castle in Universal Studios in Singapore’s Sentosa Island. I spent the whole day giggling like a kid. The Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure and Transformers The Ride 3D were definitely awesome! Far from our local Spartan theme parks here.  I capped it off by buying chocolate candies just outside the park. The remainder of my 4-day stay in Singapore was spent walking around Clarke Quay, Bugis and Chinatown. I could have seen more but I was already tired. This was part of my 14-day vacation that started in Bangkok, continued in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and ended in Pattaya. For many, 2 weeks was more than enough to cover these 4 cities. I realized just how important stamina was. This would set the tone for my future travels.

WHEN I RETURNED IN OCTOBER 2015,  I took my mother to Resorts Worlds, Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay. We checked in to Porcelain Hotel in Chinatown which was just a few steps away to the MRT. Taxis abound but they can be difficult during rush hours so it is always best to book accommodations near the train stations. It’s also cheaper to ride the train in general. This was the time when heavy forest fires in Indonesia badly affected Singapore. People were advised to wear masks when outside. It was gloomy for the whole duration of our 5-day stay but we enjoyed nonetheless.

 

Chinatown prices are a bit stiffer but we were only planning on buying a few items so we didn’t mind. It was close to us and we mainly bought fruits.

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12m-tall  Merlion lantern facing Upper Cross St. in Chinatown for the Mid-Autumn Festival in October 2015
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Shops selling Bak Kwa are found everywhere in Chinatown. It is a sweet and salty dried pork jerky which is a favorite snack of the locals. You will also find plenty of these in Macau, in smaller shops though, on the way up to the Ruins of St. Paul.
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Mosque St. Chinatown – Porcelain Hotel to the left, and restaurants to the right; hostels and bars are down the end of the street.

 

THE NIGHT WE ARRIVED IN OCTOBER 2016 to Chinatown, the lantern was already being taken down. It was raining a bit and we were hurrying to check in to our AirBnb accommodation. This time I came to appreciate AirBnB. We got a big studio in Upper Cross St. for only about Php 4,000/night with fast WiFi and the MRT just across the street. That’s definitely a steal in Singapore. In a way I felt it was I who limited myself by staying in Chinatown again but I liked how convenient this place was. To compensate, we used the MRT to do our own little tour outside the central business district. New residential condominiums are rising left and right, and according to recent news, vacancy rate is high in some parts which is a cause for concern.

We visited Gardens by the Bay and this time, we were treated to cacti and succulents! We went in the afternoon so we could see how it looked both in the day and at night. We took the train and then paid for unlimited tram rides so we could easily go back and forth. After walking around inside the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, we took the tram back to the entrance at the Marina Bay Station. We found a seat by the boardwalk where we waited for the sky to get dark and the solar-powered Supertrees to come alive. We rode back to the domes, stayed for a moment and admired the plants and the waterfalls romanticized by dim lights, as we cooled off inside this air-conditioned park.

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35 -meter-high -illuminated waterfall in the Cloud Forest at night
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Flower Dome at night
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Supertree Grove

 

As usual, Resorts World Sentosa has several attractions to offer but we only went to see the S.E.A. Aquarium. We got discounted tickets on Klook. At night, we watched the Crane Dance light and sound show. There’s no admission fee. If you have been walking around Sentosa Island, it’s nice to just watch while you rest and let the gentle breeze cool you down.

 

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Crane Dance

On another day, we took a walk inside the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It took us about a couple of hours to cover the gardens. We entered through the Bukit Timah Gate and exited through the Tanglin Gate. There is no fee to access the park but there is a 5 SGD fee to enter National Orchid Garden. People go there to jog or walk their dogs. Some read and kids play. It’s nice to see this other side of Singapore but better come early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat.

 

On our last day, we went shopping at Changi City Point for some trainers. Nike and Adidas outlet stores are there so we got good discounts on our purchase. I booked a night flight back to Manila the following day to give us some time to do our shopping but we decided to go the day before to avoid rushing. I got a Versace Bright Crystal from an SD Perfume kiosk at almost half the price of what they retailed for. I still don’t know up to this day if that was an original. SD Perfume however has plenty of kiosks in different upscale malls in Singapore.

On our way back to our apartment, we took the train and headed for the Helix Bridge. It was overlooking the stadium, with viewing pods on the bay side. We waited for a prenuptial photo shoot to finish so we could take our photos only to find out there were plenty of viewing pods along the bridge. We ended our walk at Marina Bay Sands where we stared out into the skyline, and the illuminated floating Louis Vuitton shop!

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The Helix Bridge
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Marina Bays Sands and Art Science Museum taken from viewing pod on Helix Bridge

 

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The Skyline from the Helix Bridge

 

This October 2017, I intend to spend my 35th birthday in Japan. But who knows… 🙂

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