Going to Singapore was my first trip within Asia. While a lot of people opted for travel packages that included air fare, accommodation and tours, I opted to go for the adventure of creating my own itinerary and scouted for inexpensive air fare and hotels on my own. Thanks to Agoda, choosing a hotel has never been easier. I was able to book a hotel that was just a 2-minute walk to the train station and at the same time near Orchard road (Yes, you heard me… shopping!).
Just like shopping, doing work while traveling will always be part of my routine. Thank God, most hotel rooms are already equipped with working desks. Not that it matters. I can always work with my laptop on the bed when a desk is not available.
While Singapore will always be a place I love when it comes to food, arts and culture, I cannot deny the fact that Singapore’s heat during summer just really gets to me. Take that as warning and better pack cool clothes if you want to still enjoy walking around the city despite the sweltering heat. During summer, expect that days in Singapore would (seem to) be longer. If you can see through the flimsy curtains in the picture, this was taken at 7pm. You can also expect the same sight at 5am.
Going to Singapore wouldn’t be complete without the “hawker experience.” I’m an Anthony Bourdain fan, and I take his word for it when he says it’s worth trying to dine at a place of his choosing. Incidentally, I’m a sucker for hole-in-the-walls rather than hoity-toity, fancy-shmancy dining places. So, when he said that Tian-Tian’s Hainanese chicken rice was a worth to try in Singapore, I immediately went for it.
This SGD3.50 chicken rice did not disappoint. While I’ve tasted chicken rice at Singaporean inspired restos in Manila, nothing still beats the authentic. Not to mention that the real thing is significantly less expensive. I guess I was just expecting a bit more of the ginger flavor. But that’s just me since I love cooking (and eating) with ginger.
If during the day there are hawkers, at night there’s Lau Pa Sat. These grilled shrimps are to die for. And because they’re grilled, they make the perfect beer partners. So, if you’re an occasional beer drinker like me, these shrimps could just complete your drinking experience while in Singapore 😉
Of course, chicken and pork satay are a must-try as well.
Singapore has two Ikea stores. One in Tampines and one in Alexandra. I was only able to check out the one in Alexandra. It has 5 levels, if my memory serves me right. I must admit I’m a sucker for Ikea items. If you’re like me who has had the chance to buy stuff from that small store in White Plains in the Philippines that sell Ikea items, you can expect that items here in Alexandra are way much cheaper.
If you’re planning to visit Ikea Alexandra by car, they also have a parking space which has immediate access to the store. Parking is free for the first 3 hours.
When you have the extra time and moolah to splurge and indulge in the kid in you, better make a stop at Universal Studios. I was able to buy my ticket online (through the courtesy of my friend based in SG) and did away with the hassle of standing in a long line in the ticket booth. Talk about saving time and having more fun ;).
I would personally classify the attractions in Universal Studios based on the personality types (again, this is just me):
- For Adrenaline Junkies – If you’re in for heart-pumping and heart stopping thrills and don’t mind losing your voice the next day, better check out the rides in Universal Studios. There’s the Battlestar Galactica, Madagascar, the Revenge of the Mummy indoor roller coaster, the Jurassic Park’s Rapid Adventure to name a few.
- For Entertainment Buffs – I personally love this category. If you’re a frustrated film-maker, do me a favor and check out the Lights, Camera, Action show by Steven Spielberg. I personally love the spectacle at Waterworld, as it brings a lot of memories for me. The first time I went to Universal Studios was in 2000 in Hollywood and Waterworld was one of my favorite theme park attraction back then. The Meet-and-Greet with characters is also quite an attraction. They will gladly indulge for a selfie with you. All you just need to do is make sure you have enough battery on your camera if you don’t want to miss this photo op.
- For Shopaholics – Need I say more? Memorabilia shops are scattered everywhere in Universal Studios. All you just need to do is take your pick on what your favorite film/character is. There’s the Hello Kitty Studio, Jurassic Outfitters and of course, the Universal Studios store, to name a few.
4. For Foodies – I guess whether you’re a foodie or not, you’ll still end up dining at any of Universal Studios’ restos and food stalls after burning all those calories either from the death-defying rides, or even just from walking the whole theme park. Food stalls and restaurants range from the typical fast food (burgers, pizzas, etc.) to the Singaporean and other Asian cuisines, and to novelty food items. Of course, if you have a sweet tooth, there are also dessert shops to satisfy your craving.
As expected, I didn’t get to tour the whole theme park. Yeah, take that as an admission that my age is catching up on me. I guess I overestimated myself. I’m not ashamed to admit that at the start of the tour, I was wearing sneakers and an hour later, I ended up pulling out my pair of flip-flops from my bag. Of course, I needed to rehydrate. If I were you, I’d bring along at least 1 liter of bottled water, so you don’t end up doing another long walk to buy a drink – not to mention that whatever they sell inside is quite pricey.
Singapore is probably one of the places I would want to go back to even for the 3rd or even for the 5th time. If you’re tired of the garbage and traffic in Manila, Seeing Singapore would probably light up your eyes in amazement.
Seeing these well manicured greens in this city just makes you want to think, if this can be done by a small country with one city which does not even fall as an agricultural country, what more can be expected from a country that is actually blessed with nature’s lush and greens.
My takeaways from this trip:
- Simply put, an effective transport infrastructure plays a significant role in a city’s progress. With the working middle class in mind, Singapore’s current train system is able to cater to roughly 2 million commuters per day to their offices. Talk about an ideal transport landscape. Whether, their transport system is controlled by private companies or operated by the government, that’s another story. Manila, are we getting there yet?
- Halal food. Yes, interesting and I am beginning to like it. In Singapore, it turns out halal food is not only served in Asian meals but also in fast food restaurants in SG. KFC, McDonalds, Texas Chicken, Burger King serve halal.
- Walking (at long distances) is a predominant activity in Singapore. Thanks to strategically placed bus stops, lol. No wonder you can hardly see a Singaporean (or even a resident) who’s overweight. And mind you, they walk pretty fast. Something that I should probably learn to do myself.
- If Filipinos have “Taglish,” Singaporeans have “Singlish.” Thanks to my Filipino friend who’s now a PR in Singapore, for teaching me expressions like “lah” and “lor,” I learned that both expressions are now in the Oxford English dictionary.