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Recently, I wrote about our Japan trip in 2018, so now let me just share my memorable experiences in Singapore back in 2016 because we can only reminisce (for now) as traveling oversea for leisure is still not allowed and the situation is still bad (at least in the Philippines at the moment).
Singapore is known as this sleek and progressive country in Southeast Asia. What it lacked in land area is being complemented by the hardworking natives and multinationals alike that despite experiencing recession like in other countries, Singapore is still thriving. No wonder people try to take the opportunities whenever it would present itself.
That being said, I didn’t go to Singapura for leisure — I went there to work. I found a job and stayed in the country for six months before deciding that maybe it isn’t meant to last for long. The field in which my line of work is in at that time is having quite a crisis so it’s hard to find a job that would be fitting for a long time. No regrets, though because those six months has taught me a lot about the culture, heritage and life itself.
I also did get to explore a bit of the famous tourist attractions in the country in that span of tine.
Singapore is an open city so you would not need a VISA to be allowed to enter the country. And because of the presence of different nationalities (Mainland Chinese, Indian, Malay, Filipino, etc), it is relatively easier to communicate when you are roaming around the city as the English language is being used universally.
You would not need to apply for a VISA, but you just need to have the means and resources because it is quite an expensive place to stay in. It is actually the sixth most expensive city in the world according to a 2021 survey by Mercer Cost of Living. So yeah, in order to push through with the plans, I had to save up for as much as I can then. My supportive family also let me borrow some from them.
Rule no. 1 — When spending, don’t convert to your local currency, just leave it be and spend in SGD (so as not to feel too bad about the expenses)
It is easy to explore Singapore because the land area is relatively small and commuting is hassle-free as the MRT rails are all interconnected and everything is accessible. From landing at the majestic Changi Airport, you can just ride the train up to your destination. You can also opt to ride the bus — You just have to check the schedule per bus number and you’re good to go. They also have this unified EZ Link card which is worth 12 SGD, if I am remembering correctly. The card can be purchased at the airport and at some selected train stops and convenience stores. I remember one time, I forgot my wallet in the office and only remembered that I left it there when I am about to buy my dinner at the train stop near our flat unit and I could not locate it in my bag. I am almost home then because you just really need your card (you got to load up) and you can go back and forth and even buy things using your load.
What has impressed me even more is that everything is on time (like in Japan), and they will give advisories even at a minor inconvenience on the road.
There are also malls and “hawkers” (food halls) at almost every stop. They are pretty strict with the non-eating at public utility vehicles policy, though, and to be honest, in almost every other policy that’s why the crime rate is very low or else you will be fined or punished. Did you know that you can’t chew chewing gums in public or else you might get penalized? Only in Singapore.*
*I am not familiar with other places’ rules and regulations when it comes to chewing gums so I am assuming that this is only happening in Singapore.
It is the first time that I have seen people leaving their belongings at a public place and never worrying about losing it. Like, usually you’d leave your umbrella at a table to let people know that it is occupied, right? In Singapore, they use gadgets like phones and tablets to reserve tables and seats in a food hall or restaurant. It is pretty mind-blowing how polite and disciplined the people are.
Because of the variations in nationality, hawkers offer a vast range of dishes from Asian to British to halal and Indian dishes for every kind of individual to enjoy!
Laksa (noodle) became my favourite food and I always buy some whenever I am too lazy to cook food after work! I miss the authentic taste so much that sometimes I buy laksa online (nothing beats the real thing, though). One of the food that I get to appreciate more is the salted egg flavoured chicken. My mouth waters by just remembering how much I loved it then! You probably have heard about Irving’s Salted Egg Potato Chips and today, there are some stalls in our local malls that offer it but there was a time when it is only available in Singapore/Malaysia. They also have the authentic satay (meat skewers) and spicy crab dishes.
Food is less expensive in Malaysia, though. And since you can cross the border and it is just a bus ride away. you can tick off another country on your travel list, and that’s just what we did. We visited Legoland Malaysia and tried Nando’s Chicken, A&W Root Beer and Chicken and even brought home some J.Co’s donuts at a cheaper price.
Land is precious in Singapore (also read: expensive) that it can become an indicator of wealth. While those who lived in high-rise buildings are usually the ones who are on top of the wealth pyramid in most places, we realized then that those who own a bungalow type in Singapore are rich and those who lived in HDB (public housing that is built and managed by their government) are either Singaporean natives or immigrant workers.
But regardless of the position in society, they also encourage people to commute and utilize their modern transportation system. I mean, if we have those high-end trains and buses here nationwide too then who would really mind, right?
I also love how they encourage people to bike and walk as evident by the bike lanes and parks at almost every other HDB building. We used to jog near our place in Woodlands area then. Sometimes we would also use the user-friendly workout equipment at the park.
It was around that time the the game Pokémon Go was launched and it was to our favor that we get to roam around places to find Pokémon at every stop. And safely, if I may add because I’ve never been more secured physically and virtually. (Virtually in the financial aspect as all your online transactions are secured and everything is well-regulated)
Some of the places that one has to visit while in Singapore are the following:
Marina Bay Sands - very iconic!
Palawan beach - The beach is man-made so it’s quite impressive!
Gardens by the Bay
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Orchard Road (shopping time!)
There’s also a certain vicinity for every nation, say for Filipinos who miss a taste of home, you can visit Lucky Plaza in Orchard Road and there is also a Little India place for the Indian locals.
We did get to go to a Chinatown as well.
One thing that I would want to visit when we get to come back is the Harry Potter themed cafe which is not yet opened at that time. So that’s something to look forward to for next time’s travel.
We also did get to see the late polar bear, Inuka when we visited the zoo then. It’s such a melancholic feeling. I particularly enjoyed seeing the penguins, too.
The weather in Singapore is mostly hot as it is near the equator and there’s barely any rain (we were informed that rains are usually via cloud seeding). There’s no storm as well. It’s hot but not so humid so one of the problems that I encountered then is my acne breakouts because the skin had a culture and environment shock and it took a while to nurse it.
Thank you, lovely sponsors! Really grateful for your support!
Hope you are all loving this mini-travel series that I am doing. There’s Taiwan and Korea so you can look forward to those too if I won’t procrastinate much. I’ve not been too productive recently because I got sick (cough and cold) which is such a hassle because I am scheduled to have my vaccination soon. I’ve been healthy and well all through out 2020 and just gotten the bug last week (as it is flu season, nothing too serious)
Hope you’re all doing good and are all healthy!
Drink your vitamins, eat well and stay healthy,
All the photos except the zebra photo (because that’s me in the photo) in this article are taken by me.