I was blessed to be chosen by the company as one of their delegates, that’s for a week long work-slash-training journey to Singapore last June 2011.
Departure from my own country, Philippines, was exasperating. I was in the airport early enough to comply with the 3-hour requirement for travels abroad. Check-in’s fine and travel taxes were paid in full. Then I sat for hours. Immigration failed to give me a candy coated escapade for my first out of the country trip. Armed and ready though, thanks for the stories that I gathered from colleagues. Well anyway, going out of PH-even if I am a Filipino-was a dreadful story that I will write about once I get the chance.
Going back, aboard a Cebu Pacific aircraft, I landed in Singapore. No fuss and frills. A quick note that their Budget Airport’s quite muggy back then and I thought t’was a slight observation. But behold, the weather’s more humid in SG than in PH.
We took an airport taxi but was pleased that even so, we were not charged more than what was in the taxi meter. You’ll get printed receipts and they have GPS system installed. The cabs look and smell clean too!
A work-related trip, but thankful that I was still able to wander around the city after duty hours. We stayed in a HDB flat in Tampines where everything is accessible. There’s a mall across the street and there are all sorts of business stalls below the building.
The MRT became our main mode of transport, it’s cheaper and is just a walk away from our flat. Hopping from one place to another is easier via MRT as train routes are simple and accessible from tourist spots. They have electronic ticket machines and prepaid train cards, the latter is more convenient if you plan to ride it frequently. Note that the train’s jam-packed during rush hours and ridership varies from businessmen, locals, tourists and more.
Shuttle services are available around Changi Business District for a few cents, just bring exact change. On the other hand, there are free shuttle buses too from CBD to different destinations such as Tampines, Bedok, etc. We took advantage of the latter obviously, but not only for the free ride but because MRT’s far from our office if you’re on foot.
Other type of transport would include double-decker buses and if you’re lucky you can ride a Benz taxi. Another thing to take note of, taxi rides are more expensive during peak hours especially if you need to pass thru ERP, such works as a toll collecting device.
You won’t go hungry in Singapore, there’s a lot to choose from. Observed that food cost generally varies from 3-5SGD or more depending on your selection. If you’re on a tight budget, you can opt for their ala-carinderia eateries which offers good food in big servings for only 3SGD.
We usually take our lunch in DBS food court which offers a wide array of food choices. I personally liked chicken rice (around 3SGD). The rice that goes along with it is quite salty, heard that they cook it with chicken broth. Another favorite would be Tori Q (meal around 5SGD). There are some canteens that offer Filipino dishes too.
Soda from vending machines (1-1.50SGD). Most stalls sell bamboo/sugarcane juice which is unusual in PH. Able to spot a Yakult dispenser in Tampines that offer diverse flavors (70SGD cents each). Sweets such as chocolates and ice creams can be bought around, but these caught my attention –a huge Hershey’s store and McDonald’s where an elder works as a service crew. I’m not sure if it’s customary in SG but I have never seen an elderly working for PH fast foods.
ATMs are visible everywhere, but I did not try one so I cannot provide accurate information about this. Money changers are all over as well. It would be best to check the currency exchange rates first and conversion is more reasonable outside the airports (both PH and SG).
Since I only have nighttime to do all the “happy” stuff, my destinations were limited.
All I have in mind is to see their famous landmark, The Merlion Park. Nonetheless, I loved Marina Bay Sands too! I was able to go there even in the nick of time, the day before I went back home. Best to go there during the night if you want to see the Singapore lights. There goes the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Mall too. What bothered me was the long walk that we had to take from the Marina Bay MRT station, it was worth it anyway.
For souvenirs, go to Bugis Junction for pasalubongs if you’re running on a short budget. You can spot good buys and items were fair enough for their price. Go around the vicinity first and choose the best bargain, price range varies from one store to another due to competition.
Meanwhile, if you’re out to splurge and you’re after branded items, go to Orchard Road. It looks like a whole stretch of “Ayala” filled with malls and establishments for me. We were able to go inside Ion Orchard since you’ll be able to pass thru it from the Orchard MRT station.
Other sites that I saw are the Singapore Expo and the Singapore Flyer, from afar though. Initially planned to go to Universal Studios and Night Safari but my schedule did not permit me. Anyway, I can still do so next time. 🙂
When all came to an end, I had to go back home after staying there for 6 days. My flight was delayed due to bad weather, thus I was able to explore their Budget Airport. Duty Free for those who would like to do last-minute shopping. They have comfortable lounge areas with cable TV (sad to say the channel’s showing a kidnapping crime in PH then, a very awkward moment for me). Computers hooked up with internet connectivity and internet cables for those who have their own gadgets.
There’s a lot to say about this place, this blog may not suffice. I find Singapore an interesting place, very modern and disciplined. If you’re looking more of mother nature, this place may not be for you. Every place has its own charm and so Singapore. I will definitely go back for more with my family next time.
Note: Places, directions and descriptions may not be accurate anymore. Travel transpired last year, June of 2011.