Finally! I can’t believe I’ll actually get this done! I’m usually bad about blogging about my trips and there is no better example of that than my last trip to Hong Kong earlier this year. It’s almost the end of the year and I’ve yet to write a blog entry on it, so this is awesome progress!
Last week, from October 26 to 30, we were at Singapore. It was a special trip for a couple of reasons: 1) Noel was finally with us for an overseas trip. 2) It was also my first time in Singapore. 3) We were going to Universal Studios. And 4) We’ve got family showing us around! Look at some of our pictures from the trip at the very top of this entry. We had a lot fun, really. Singapore’s a great place to go on vacation. Here are just some of my thoughts concerning the trip and Singapore itself:
- Tiger Airways. They can probably give you the best budget rates for Singapore but also at a price. We discovered this just a few days before our trip. They emailed us that they were rescheduling our return trip to Manila as the flight we scheduled was canceled. Because of the rescheduling, we lost a whole day in Singapore which could have been spent going to more places or resting. Plus, our new flight schedule back to Manila was at sometime past 1am! Crazy! You could say that this is typical for budget fares but come on! Our original return trip schedule was a cushy 5pm! We tried to get a hold of their to call center service to see if it’s possible to make other arrangements, but it’s practically impossible to get a hold of them! It was awful. And on top of that the plane was cramped and the food was so expensive and wasn’t even that good. It was really unfortunate.
- Our Tour Guides. We had relatives in Singapore and we couldn’t be luckier. Kuya Josh, one of our older cousins, currently lives and works there so he showed us around. He was so accommodating the whole time we were there and the trip wouldn’t be the same without him. The first day, he toured us around exhaustively all around Singapore and guided us through the sometimes confusing paths and systems of the MRT and buses which we grew to enjoy. The next three days he wasn’t as present, but he was still just a text or call away if we needed anything. We also met more of our cousins who were younger there and their parents, Tito Alan and Tita Eeme. They also showed us around and even brought us to Malaysia for a bit to go shopping at Johor Premium Outlets. They were also very warm and accommodating, even having us rest and have dinner at their home. And our younger cousins were just fun and adorable. Kuya Josh, Tito Alan and Tita Eeme also shared some useful insights about living and working in Singapore which I think are quite valuable to Noel and I who may or may not find ourselves with an opportunity to find work there in the future.
- The Hot Weather. It’s incredibly hot in Singapore! I don’t think I was very prepared for the heat, but thank goodness I decided to bring two pairs of shorts with me. I don’t think I would have survived if I had nothing to wear but pants the whole time I was there. So for people planning to go, sun block, water and an umbrella are must-haves.
- Public Transportation and Getting Around. I love the public transportation systems in Singapore. Everything is just so clean and efficient. You can practically take the MRT everywhere you want to go and buses are easy enough to keep track of if you know how. I guess it’s a good way of compensating since owning cars in Singapore is pretty pricey. Having an EZ LINK card is a good idea if you’re going to be staying for a while or if you plan on going around a lot as it would help pay for your fares easily. Just give it a tap on the gates to trains or the designated place on buses and you’re good to go. I certainly found it very convenient as we went around using the MRT. Definitely better than buying tickets or whatever at each station or dropping notes for buses. And can I just say how I love how easy it is to get around using the online navigation systems? No wonder everyone has smart phones.
- Customer Service. Singaporeans are quite nice. They greet you with a smile and politely assist you when you ask for help. It’s great. I was kind of wary about customer service in Singapore since in Hong Kong people aren’t as warm. So it was a nice surprise to be greeted with a warm smile and a cheerful greeting when you approach shops and stalls to buy or inquire about things. Plus they speak English so even better.
- Filipinos! As expected, there were Filipinos most everywhere! A Filipina helped us buy coffee, another one served us our pizza and drinks in the hotel restaurant and two others assisted us with buying souvenirs! A Chinese sales lady even spoke to me in Tagalog when I was buying an umbrella! Filipinos are really everywhere and it’s kind of amusing. You’re sitting in the MRT and suddenly someone’s chatting away on their cellphone in Tagalog across from you. It’s kind of jarring but in a good way. Home is not that far away, it seems.
- Malls. Singaporeans also seem to be fond of malling and shopping if the sheer number of malls and outlets are any indication. I read somewhere that shopping is the second favorite pastime to eating so I guess the numbers make sense. They probably also love malls because of the air conditioning, haha. But then there are also the genuine merchandise from famous brands there. I actually found two designer bags from Kate Spade and Burberry and they were on sale but they both separately cost my salary for one month anyways. It’s nice to dream. 😀
- FOOD! You knew this was coming. 😀 Singaporean food is delicious and I love how the food scene in Singapore is also quite cosmopolitan. I love the local favorites, though, like chicken rice, cereal crabs, roti prata and kaya toast. S$1 ice cream eaten while walking down Orchard Road was one foodie experience I would always remember fondly. I would do a lot to get myself another cup or glass of kopi, cold or hot. I also love how it’s so easy to have access to Singaporean, Indian, Thai, Korean, Chinese and Malaysian food all at once if you go to food courts or hawker centers. A big bowl of noodles with dumplings, raw egg, greens and anchovies was my favorite breakfast there. Cold wintermelon lime juice was kind of weird but was kind of delicious after a while. And please, if you can, drop by Din Tai Fung for their signature (LEGENDARY) xiao long bao. You won’t regret it.
- Universal Studios. I think I may be disappointing you by saying that the best time I had in Singapore, after eating most everything I could get my hands on, was being in Universal Studios. Sure, I wasn’t really into riding the rides and I was definitely not into wandering around under the heat of the Singaporean sun but ANCIENT EGYPT. I love The Mummy movies and so I really enjoyed being in the Ancient Egypt zone of Universal Studios. I took pictures with Rick O’ Connell and the structures they had there. I even saw the Scorpion King and other Egyptians walking around. I didn’t ride the Revenge of the Mummy because I wasn’t really keen on roller coasters, haha. And I bought a souvenir, The Mummy notebook! I also enjoyed Far, Far Away. Too bad I didn’t get to take a picture with Puss. That would have been cute. We got pictures with Oscar, Bert and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street, though. I also got to watch the Streetboys perform which was a treat. 😀
- Changi Airport. It was huge. And unfortunately our check in was so early in the morning, we weren’t allowed an early check in so we can see most everything inside. The fun stuff are beyond the Immigration lines and that just sucked. Maybe next time.
Obviously, I would love to come back to Singapore someday, whether it be for work or vacation. I love how progressive it is and really has so much to offer, if only you get started well in terms of looking for work. Also, I was really happy that Noel was able to come along to an overseas trip with us because I really wanted him to see how different it is in other countries. We hoped that he would gain more insight about a lot of things from the trip and I think he did which was good. Here’s to hoping we have more international trips together in the future. 😀