Our trip to Singapore became less an exploration of a new place than a meditation of what we’re missing in our own city. We spent a lot of time talking about home and how tired we were that we couldn’t have this. Every conversation must have ended with a sigh and a sad “Buti pa sila”. (Lucky them.) Emerging on Bugis Street from the train, we became very much aware of the nearly deserted streets, the lack of security personnel at the entrance of malls. The humidity and the sun reminded us of Manila but without the chaos of Manila. Singapore is like Manila that turned out right. (But then right is relative; as a tourist — a first-time visitor — I can only comment on Singapore’s skin but not it’s heart.) As a friend mentioned over dinner, it is the little things that will make you stay in Singapore: the fact that you can time the arrival of the bus on your way to work, the fact that you can get on the MRT wearing your backpack and not worry that a fellow passenger will grab your wallet and phone. The little things can make you stay, and it’s also the little things, like splinters, that burrow under your skin and will make you want to leave.
Ah. Speaking of things that make you want to leave.
And so we had to do this.
It made me feel pretty stupid but what can you do.
We flew Cebu Pacific at 5:45 AM on Friday (the plane taxied for sooo long I had to remark, “Are we going to drive all the way to Singapore?”) and arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 2 at 9:20 AM. It was an unremarkable flight, which was great. (I’m not a fan of flying. It was the longest flight I’ve ever been on — I haven’t traveled to the US or Europe — and I was bored.out.of.my.mind. But when flying, boring is good.)
Relevant source: Changi Airport Guide
One Singapore dollar is equivalent to around 33 Philippine pesos. We had our money changed at Sanry’s Money Changer before our trip. You can check out this link about the cost of living in Singapore to help you with your budget.
This is mine. I must tell you now that I over-budgeted on nearly every line item. You’ll be comfortable with less than S$200 pocket money.
|Sample Budget||$15 per meal||9 meals||135|
|$2 per water bottle||10 water bottles?||20|
|$10 per meal (snacks and coffee)||3 meals||30|
|Wiggle room money||50|
Our kaya toast meal (kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs, coffee with condensed milk) cost S$4.30 each, to give you an idea.
From Terminal 2, we headed to the Changi Airport MRT station to buy a 3-day Tourist Pass. The pass, which gives you unlimited access to the buses, MRT and LRT, costs S$30 with a S$10 deposit. Go crazy! Get on and off every station if you feel like it! Just surrender the card and you’ll get your 10 bucks back. Unless you’d like to keep the card as a souvenir.
There’s no shortage of maps and brochures at the airport. It’s a pretty Type A city. I love it.
Relevant source: MRT Map
Getting around is pretty easy. (That’s coming from a girl who gets lost all the time.) To head to the city from Changi Airport, hop on the train heading to Tanah Merah. At Tanah Merah, switch to the East West line (green on the map) on Platform B.
We got off at Bugis station and checked out Sim Lim Square.
Sim Lim Square has a guide. Type A, like I said.
It reminds me of Greenhills.
The store J wanted to check out was still closed, so we had a snack. Sim Lim Square has a food court in the basement.
After that stopover, we walked to get to Victoria Hotel, which was on Victoria Street. I’d like to pretend I own the hotel. (And the street.)
We stopped for lunch in Bugis Village.
Victoria Hotel has a pretty great location. I recommend it.
We rested for a bit before heading to Gardens by the Bay to meet with Victor and Patricia, who have been working and living in Singapore for 15 years.
Remember when I said just a few paragraphs ago that I get lost all the time? So yeah, I got lost here. We have been waiting at the wrong ticket counter for 30 minutes until J realized, Maaaaybe there’s another ticket counter?
Sorry for the wait, Victor.
While lost, I snapped these shots:
Victor took us on a tour of the two domes in the Gardens — the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest (S$28 for both domes, but Victor generously paid for our entrance fees: “Ken Liu [who attended the Singapore Writers Festival] wanted to go to the hawker stalls. I spent five dollars on Ken Liu.” So now I can say I’m more expensive than Ken Liu. Hooray?).
Victor said most of his friends from Asia prefer the Flower Dome, while Europeans more often than not prefer the Cloud Forest.
He was right. We loved the Flower Dome more.
(And to think we nearly skipped this!)
I love the color of these deep purple flowers.
Hello, Little Prince.
I love the shape of this cactus.
I forgot the name of this flower, but it smells like rot.
Another strange flower.
Not a very good shot of a very tall cactus.
I wish I knew more about plants! Victor knew a great deal about flowers and vegetables, which was a pleasant surprise.
We had dinner and fun conversation at Supertree Dining. (J is still dreaming of that plum juice.)
Thank you Victor and Patricia!