Singapore Trip 2022 Mega Post

Prelude

(I think it is much better to do a one-time post, instead of the usual multiple posts in our previous trips. This way, I have everything in one go.)

Months before the pandemic began, we had travel plans that did not push through. We already booked tickets to Beijing and Phuket, but had to cancel these trips as I had to transition to a new role towards the end of 2019. We thought it would not be wise to go on leave when I barely started. So, au revoir tickets.

Then COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill.

A lot of travel plans were put on hold as we were all not sure what we were dealing with. Traveling surely was the last on everyone’s list. The young and old, healthcare workers and the common people were falling left and right like flies. It was a grim time.

First international travel in the (hopefully post) pandemic era.

First travel in the (hopefully post) pandemic era.

Even as the world began to open up last year after the vaccines started rolling out, we were still apprehensive to travel again. Earlier this year, however, we already began having more confidence. More people were doing it. The tourism sector, which took a big blow in the past 2 years, was also going to great lengths to gain the people’s confidence.

So, ready to fly? Yes? Yes!

Even back in 2021, we already knew that our first trip would have been to South Korea this July (i.e. inclusive dates from July 4 to July 11). We had to eventually reconsider this.

We have been to South Korea in September 2011, December 2012 and December 2016. Granted September was supposedly early autumn, it did not feel like it as it still felt like summer that time. The last two December stays were obviously winter. We thought that perhaps spring or autumn would have been better. Spring has already passed, but autumn this year sounded perfect to us.

Aside from this, the events of May made me want to go somewhere else even for a couple of days. I was an emotional mess on the aftermath of the elections. Thus after making our mind that, yes, an autumn trip to South Korea would be great, perhaps we could visit Singapore instead? =)

And that decision was basically done on a whim.

There was one issue, though — our three beautiful cats. Even before the pandemic, we managed to adopt 2 stray cats (Nolan and Yue from the AIM parking lot and Circuit Makati, respectively), and then the third black one, Bami, who we adopted from a Facebook page here in Makati during lockdown.

Don't worry, our dear children. Tita Lot will be looking after you for 3 days

Their faces when we left. =( Don’t worry, our dears. Tita Lot will be looking after you for 3 days.

Luckily, Mon’s sister (who, back in 2012, I had volunteered to secure her UPCAT permit, and eventually graduated last year with a degree in Civil Engineering from UP Diliman, YEY!) happily obliged to stay at our place while we were gone and look after the cats. #catsitter

We were hesitant to put them on a pet hotel because, aside from the stress of being in a new place, they run the risk of catching something more nefarious with other pets present. I’ve heard of such horror stories and we cannot bear doing it to them. That was also the reason why it took us long to travel because we had no idea of the cat arrangement if we were to go on vacation.

We decided to travel on weekdays as it was also a win-win situation for us, as Mon’s sister also works in Makati. Her usual 2 plus-hour trip will now be reduced to 30 minutes, given we are much nearer her workplace.

We agreed that even for succeeding trips, we could have the same arrangement. In return, we can book tickets for her as well. The total cost to put our beloved cats on a cat hotel during those several trips was almost the same with the tickets we’ll get for her. We plan to tag her along in one of our trips early next year (which means we’ll ask another person to look after the cats as she joins our trip — we’ll cross the bridge when we get there).

Prep, departure, arrival

Days leading up to our trip, we also kept track on the various requirements the Philippines and Singapore expect from those flying. While there were a lot, they were readily available online. The Philippine Airlines’ website also has an up-to-date and comprehensive list of these travel bulletins.

From our end, since Mon and I are now both working as full-time digital marketing consultants (after I left the development sector end of 2021 to rest from a burnout), we also had to change our tax status and register as self-employed digital marketing consultants. We even had to get an office lease here in Makati to properly do this (more on this on a separate post — if ever I have the energy).

Aside from working on this blog that brings in a decent amount, I am also lucky to be able to work on digital content as we please. I am very grateful of that.

Despite all the feelings I had (or have) from last elections, I have to make sure we comply as we plan to eventually get a housing loan (under Mon’s name, as I just fully paid my house early this year ^_^), and also travel to Europe with my parents before the end of spring 2023.

Yes, we are on speaking terms again after the elections. Life is short, and I want to make sure I’m able to make my Mama’s longtime dream of visiting the Vatican City while she still has the energy to walk around despite their age. So our tax compliance is vital for these very adult goals.

Hello NAIA Terminal 1!

Hello NAIA Terminal 1!

Anyway, back to the trip, we almost had a bit of trouble with the Philippines’ VaxCert as our last booster doses were not updated. The VaxCert desks are fortunately helpful, and they are able to edit these corrections to reflect within 24-48 hours.

The travel to NAIA Terminal 1 from Makati was relatively quick at around 30 minutes. Although our flight was not until 7:30 pm, we’d rather be there at least 2 hours before as we did not know what to expect inside the airport.

They did their usual security checks at NAIA (e.g. only departing passengers allowed inside, running our bags on X-ray, etc.). When we finally got in line for the check in counter of Scoot, the line was already long. And it was also slow-moving.

In our past trips, even with the snaking lines, it usually takes less than 30 minutes to get our boarding pass. This time, however, it took us almost an hour just to get our boarding passes. Aside from the itinerary and the passport, they also had to check various health-related requirements from the Philippines and Singapore.

It did not help that we also wasted minutes to rush to the travel tax counter. Looking back, we could have at least one of us run to the travel tax counter while we were on queue. But water under the bridge.

Scoot’s check-in counter at Terminal 1

After our boarding passes were released, we had to queue next to the immigration counter.

We also, not surprisingly, took a longer than usual time here. Compared to our previous trips, we are now working as self-employed AND BIR-registered, digital marketing consultants. It also did not help that both of our passports were spanking new: Mon had his renewed late last year, while mine was supposedly used for the Bangkok trip in late 2019, so it went untouched.

We brought all our important documents (especially our BIR Form 2303, or our Certificate of Registration, which basically says we have continuous obligations to the Philippine government or face penalties), aside from all our old passports with all the arrival stamps and previous visas. There were also some questions with the work that we do, our purpose of travel, our return trip (we booked on a separate carrier, as it was cheaper), etc. Good thing we are already BIR-registered.

We have no reason to stay abroad other than for vacation and, frankly, shopping (unless we want our three cats to kill us). Unfortunately there had been lots of stories of travelers who were not very forthcoming about their trips.

Making our way to the boarding gate, and about to board the plane!

The immigration officers (IOs) are just doing their job. They are trained to do this. We just answered their questions calmly and honestly as we had nothing to hide. Singapore also, I guess, is a hotspot for travelers who go there under the pretense of being a tourist, yet was intent to look for a job.

Good thing we had our old passports with us, which the IO asked. I was asked of about my (expired) diplomatic US visa, to which I replied my 10-day stay in Guam as a consultant for the WHO under the translation department for the regional committee meeting.

After getting through immigration, we barely had 45 minutes to look for a place to eat before our flight leaves. As we had been under a low carb diet since 2018, it was an issue to look for any place to eat at Terminal 1. We ended up eating bread with some meat filling in a café near the boarding gates.

Bye Philippines! See you over the weekend

Bye Philippines! See you over the weekend! (Yes, I’ve been sporting a pink leather bracelet everywhere now, Tod’s, because I am so extra)

Our flight going to Singapore was not very eventful, save from having to hold it in for about 4 hours because we did not dare ask the other person sitting by the aisle to stand up. Lesson learned: window seats are overrated. There were very few moments you can view something from the window. Always opt for an aisle seat, instead.

There was also a moment when it dawned on me why we were traveling on a whim on that particular date (and the costliest plane tickets to date, as we booked less than a month). I imagined that in a parallel universe, that day would have been spent cheering with the same jubilant crowd we had been excitingly attending with during the campaign season. I was a bit teary-eyed, while listening to Rosas during the flight.

Anyway, I had an NGO to support when we get back to the Philippines, as it felt really personal to actively contribute to the movement and the community. (See? Even if I already left the development world, that drive is still somewhat there. I blame UP for that nation-building ideology.)

But for now, our trip.

Arrival in Singapore

Our flight arrived at exactly 11:47 pm. It was about 30 minutes late, as our flight from the Philippines was also a bit delayed. At least twice, however, the pilot had to express his apologies for the delay, and promised that he’ll make sure that we arrive early. No idea how we did that, unless we magically went supersonic in the air.

First order of the evening as soon as we got out? Comfort room. ^o^

After that, we went straight to the immigration counter. The line was insanely long. While there were several counters open and and we also saw the IOs not taking more than 3 minutes to attend to each of the passenger, it was not until more than 30 minutes after when we got out.

The 00h30 situation at the immigration at Changi Airport's Terminal 1.jpg

The 00h30 situation at the immigration at Changi Airport’s Terminal 1

After we got our bags, off we went to get out WiFi.

While Changi Airport had a very reliable connection, I am normally hesitant to connect to public networks, given the nature of the work that we do. We booked a 4-day WiFI router from directly from Changi Recommend’s website, which costed us SGD 40 or SGD 10 per day. During Mon’s stay in Singapore back in 2018, we had this same service booked for him from Klook. It was, however, no longer available in the app.

We walked a long way arouuuuund the perimeter, only to end up in the middle of the arrival area where we exited. At that point, we were already terribly hungry.

When it was my turn to pay, I handed out the staff my credit card, to which he replied “I-swipe ko na po“, since he saw it was from BPI. He was a Filipino. We chatted a bit while we also bought two Singapore Tourist Pass+ (at SGD 38 each), that has an unlimited use for the trains enough to get us around Singapore for our whole stay. (By the way, there was I believe a SGD 200 deposit for the device, in case we felt like having it as a costly souvenir and not return it).

Changi Recommends kiosk at Changi’s arrival area

After we got our WiFI router, we immediately went to the car pick-up area by the basement and book a Grab going to Hotel Boss SG. I was worried it would take long to get a ride, but barely a minute at the basement, the Grab was already on the way. It cost us SGD 34.80 from the airport to the hotel.

When we are almost 10 minutes away from the hotel, we also ordered a box 20-pc Chicken Nuggets from McDonald’s (SGD 17.80), hoping the rider won’t arrive ahead of us. Barely 2 minutes at the hotel lobby, our nuggets arrived while we were checking in. We’re not gonna starve to death.

The Singapore Flyer and Cloud Forest/Flower Dome on our Grab ride to the hotel

The Singapore Flyer and Cloud Forest/Flower Dome on our Grab ride to the hotel

Glorious 2h00 Mcdonald's chicken nuggets while overlooking SG's skyline from our room's balcony

Glorious 2h00 Mcdonald’s chicken nuggets while overlooking SG’s skyline from our room’s balcony

When we originally booked the hotel, we did not include breakfast, thinking that we’d rather have breakfast outside the hotel. We eventually changed our mind, though, as it would be too much to get dressed a bit, walk out, and walk back to the hotel. We then paid for the additional breakfast (SGD 12/pax) for the next 3 days.

Tired but happily eating our nuggets, we unpacked and prepped for the following day. I had hoped my legs won’t give out as we have a record of just walking the whole day.

Around SG and the boat that (nearly) sailed

I think one stark difference from our previous trips was that beginning with this SG trip, we made a conscious decision to temper our ‘Amazing Race’ tendencies. We were always dashing from one point to another, making the most out of our trips. It is usually a source of tension.

Yes, we know that we can always bicker during trips. And I won’t be surprised there won’t be at least one (and a self-fulfilling prophecy it was, as we got annoyed at each other at least twice in a span of three days LOL). But at least, we know that we can always go back visit Singapore (and other places for that matter), given the flexibility of our work arrangement. At this point, it is only the cats that prevent us from staying anywhere for more than a week.

And also money. Not because we can afford it, we had to do it. The pandemic pushed us to be financially literate. Revenge travel aside, I’d now rather spend on experience with my loved ones, than buying more bags. (I sound so adult saying that. LOL)

For our first day, we had an itinerary in mind: a chill walking tour around the city. The itinerary was also a flexible guide and not a must. If we miss something, there’s always a next time.

Pretending to wait at Newton Station - Mulberry Small Bayswater

Pretending to wait at Newton Station

We first went to Orchard Road to have some of our money exchanged at Lucky Plaza. I only brought USD 200 cash with me, as I will be paying most with my card. While I had exchanged some of my funds at home to USD to hedge against rising inflation, I’d rather keep them as is. At the time, the exchange rate on the money changers was USD 1 = US 1.85, which was enough for those we need paying cash for.

After having our money exchanged, we went in and out of the stores just to check on items and had some taste of air-conditioning. Barely 11:00 am and I was already exhausted.

Despite all the temptation, I managed not to buy anything substantial.

There was one point, though, where we were at Mulberry at Takashimaya Shopping Centre. There was a full-grain Urban backpack for sale at 50% off (SGD 750), and I was this close to buying it. But a famous philosopher once said: “Now walk away, strong and frugal.

And I did just that. I have a Eurotrip next year with my parents to prepare for. ^_^

Mon at ION Orchard's steps

Mon at ION Orchard’s steps

Just a photo --- nobody's buying anything LOL - Mulberry Small Bayswater

Just a photo — nobody’s buying anything LOL

From Orchard Road, we went to Tanjong Pagar station to visit the colonial-era structures at Tanjong Pagar Road.

I’ve told Mon way back that Singapore actually was last on my list. I just felt that it was too BGC and Greenbelt-y for me. However, when he mentioned this area to me, and having read more about Singapore’s colonial past in one of my subjects in ASEAN Studies in the middle of the pandemic, I had grown an interest.

At the corner of Craig Road and Tanjung Pagar Road

At the corner of Craig Road and Tanjung Pagar Road

Colonial buildings at Tanjong Pagar Road

Colonial buildings at Tanjong Pagar Road

With an umbrella, a plastic bag of water and a bright car - Tanjong Pagar Road

With an umbrella, a plastic bag of water and a bright car

Old versus new - Tanjong Pagar Road

Old versus new

Granted that the district looked a gentrified neighborhood, with all the swanky restaurants and boutique, I don’t think there will be too many areas in the city-state where some of these old style architecture are placed, or cramped, next to each other.

It almost rained when we were there. But a couple of drizzling from the sky eventually halted after only around 5 minutes. I would have wished that we could have gone there in the evening, as I usually love colonial architecture at night. That’s going to be part of the itinerary, then, when we go back early 2023?

A colonial era mailbox - Tanjong Pagar Road

A colonial era mailbox

Mask (still) on - Tanjong Pagar Road

Mask (still) on

I've placed my bag on the ground and propped my phone on it just to take a photo on the sidewalk of Maxwell Chambers

I’ve placed my bag on the ground and propped my phone on it just to take a photo on the sidewalk of Maxwell Chambers

Another interesting stop we had was Mon’s workplace when he was there for 6 days. It felt like he knew Tanjong Pagar so much even during his short stay, that we managed to weave in and out of vicinity. We even managed to squeeze in a quick coffee break in one of the quaint cafés near SGX.

At that point in the late afternoon, I was not even sure where was our next stop — the beauty of a flexible itinerary. All I knew was we had to be at the Clarke Quay Jetty by 6:00 pm for the Singapore River Cruise, a tour (booked via Klook) that would run for 45 minutes. I thought that was a sweet spot where everything was still sunlit, before it eventually became sunset with the pretty lights.

Yes, part of our 'itinerary' was to visit his former workplace LMAO

Yes, part of our ‘itinerary’ was to visit his former workplace LMAO

Passed by Lau Pa Sat Hawker Center across SGX

Passed by Lau Pa Sat Hawker Center across SGX

But we decided to go back to the hotel to quickly freshen up, and change to our pink shirts.

We had underestimated the time, especially as we had also had no idea how to get there. There were several exchanges from Lavender Station that, at one point, the trains at either side were open but we had no idea which one to board. As soon as Mon figured out which one to take, both of the trains closed.

It was also partly my fault as I relied on Mon too much to navigate the train system.

Elevator ride back to the hotel room --- before we got into each other's nerves 30 minutes after

Elevator ride back to the hotel room — before we got into each other’s nerves 30 minutes after

The booking confirmation mentioned we had to be there at least 15 minutes of the scheduled time i.e. 5:45 pm for the 6:00 pm trip. We got there at 6:05 pm.

The photo below shows the boat that just left the jetty as we were about to cross Read Bridge. I was so disappointed. That was Php 1,010 lost because we were not to conscious of the time. LOL We just took a couple of photos around Clarke Quay so as not to waste the travel going there. I was still miffed, though, to be honest.

And the Singapore River Cruise boat left without us

An obviously disappointed face beneath the colorful face mask

An obviously disappointed face beneath the colorful face mask

Mon insisted that we still approach the ticketing counter to ask what can be done about our booking. I already psyched myself out that nothing can be done, or at least they’d accommodate it for the following day, which meant we’d have to adjust our itinerary.

We approached the staff, explained how we just missed our schedule by mere minutes. To our surprise, the staff just shrugged it off, scanned the codes in the voucher, and whipped out 2 tickets from the bunch!

Mon was incessantly teasing me as my mood obviously changed. Silly me.

I was particularly exited about the river cruise because it was one way of seeing the city without having to walk. And my feet was already giving up on me just on our first day.

And we eventually got our Singapore River Cruise tickets!

And we eventually got our Singapore River Cruise tickets!

The boat was not to leave for the next 30 minutes and we thought that perhaps we can get a quick bite somewhere in the area. We found none. It was not worth missing the next trip again, just to wait for any restaurant prepare the food. Besides, it will already be dinner by the time the cruise was over, so it won’t be too much of a wait.

When we boarded the boat, there was a covered area in the middle, and an open area at the back. Most of the passengers took the open area, while we took the last row in the covered area. It was already beginning to drizzle and we did not want to be propping up umbrellas for the next 45 minutes. What if it also rained hard? But it didn’t. It was done in less than 10 minutes.

Riverside Point viewed from the boat

Riverside Point viewed from the boat

The Merlion with the Fullerton Hotel in the background

The Merlion with the Fullerton Hotel in the background

The pace of the boat has been synchronized with the recorded narration of the key areas around the route of the cruise. I could no longer recall the information that had been shared during the whole trip, as I was too busy taking photos.

I, however, recall taking a selfie with the Merlion in the background, and getting frustrated with the quality of photos from the front camera. It was a full on Rupaul Drag’s Race Season 1 filter. I’m not even posting it here. It was that bad.

I realized that it was not the camera of the phone itself, rather the severely scratched tempered glass cover of the phone. I immediately removed it and, yep, our photos were better! I did not even think that it was the culprit. I was so used to seeing the same quality of photos on my screen.

Marina Bay Sands from the boat

Marina Bay Sands from the boat

The ArtScience Museum and the Louis Vuitton Island Maison

The ArtScience Museum and the Louis Vuitton Island Maison

When we reached the Merlion area, it was already packed with tourists. It was only a Thursday and it is likely going to be more crowded by Friday.

I almost always have some lingering thoughts about the Philippines whenever we visit other places. Singapore is beautiful, and they are able to use this river route to showcase this area. I had a similar thought in Chao Phraya back in 2016, wishing we could have had taken advantage of the Pasig River as an alternative public transport route. I also thought, yet again, that like in Seoul and Taipei, just like in Singapore, our transport system in the Philippines would have been as well-meshed.

Wishful thinking. And frustrating as well to be always thinking of shoulda, coulda, woulda when overseas. I honestly got a bit emotional.

Just a selfie with the Marina Bay Sands in the background and another tourist obviously in awe

Just a selfie with the Marina Bay Sands in the background and another tourist obviously in awe

I think this was the National Gallery Singapore lit at dusk

I think this was the National Gallery Singapore lit at dusk

By the team the River Cruise was done, it was already dinner time. Mon planned for us to have dinner at Chinatown. We immediately went there. However, we eventually debated whether we should go back at Clarke Quay to and have dinner by the river instead. Without wasting any time, as it was already almost 8:00 pm, we went back.

It was a million food choices at Clarke Quay that we had decision paralysis. We were not sure what to eat, and whether they would be serving something we can eat.

We ended up at Hooters instead.

While waiting for our food, I also messaged one of my friends and teammates from college, who was working as an engineer at Singapore’s train system. He did not even know that we were to visit SG. I thought that he was still at Chicago but Mon saw his Facebook story that he looked to be back.

We agreed to meet and have dinner the following day, along with another teammate of ours, who is taking her MBA at SMU. I live for instant and instantaneous reunions!

Dinner at Hooters

Idyllic Clarke Quay in the evening

Idyllic Clarke Quay in the evening

Mon and I, however, had to adjust our itinerary for the following  day, as we were supposed to spend the evening around the Merlion area. We can always go back and visit that next time.

When it was time to pay, I handed out my card and, just like what happened at Changi Recommends in the airport, someone spoke to me in Filipino. We just had quick chat with her as she was very busy because the restaurant was packed.

After having dinner, we whiled our way a bit around the river because riverscapes are usually prettier in the evening. There were a lot of office workers, families, and obviously tourists like us resting by the river steps.

We also had the opportunity to discuss how the next day would look like, in consideration of the meet-up with my college friends. Mon suggested that we were supposed to visit CHIJMES, the location of the famous wedding scene in Crazy Rich Asians, in the morning. However, it appears we could squeeze it in the same evening.

Churches look better well lit in evenings, anyway.

CHIJMES lit splendidly

CHIJMES lit splendidly

One of the hallways at CHIJMES

One of the hallways at CHIJMES

So from Clarke Quay, we made our way to City Hall Station, with Mon taking on the navigator role again. He obviously knew the way already so I basically just allowed him to drag me along.

When we got at City Hall Station, it was a pushing 10-minute walk with tired feet to reach CHIJMES.

I was initially confused at first why there was a noise growing louder as we approached the cathedral. To my surprise, there were some restaurants and bistros directly behind it.

Under the pretty yellow lights - CHIJMES

Under the pretty yellow lights

And of course, a photo

And of course, a photo

I was initially unsure how to feel about that. But as I was busy processing my feelings, the pull of the beautiful lights was too much to ignore. As tourist, we took photos, of course.

Mon, however, informed me that the façade of the actual church was off limits to tourists taking photos. We had to be satisfied with the view from behind it.

At almost 10:00 pm, we decided to go back to the hotel and call it a day. My little toes were seriously blistered as soon as I removed my shoes.

Shopping, pretty views, and a reunion

We woke up quite late in the morning. My legs really gave out from the previous day’s, whole day walk. While I brought Doc Martens with me, I did not think that would be helpful at all for Friday’s activities.

I normally bring some Efficascent Oil with me and high socks to slather some on my legs and feet as I sleep. I unfortunately forgot them.

Our itinerary listed “City Hall/CHIJMES” in the morning. But as we already visited the cathedral the night before, and we could do with a quick visit at the outlet stores around Jurong East, we decided to buy some stuff instead.

In front of the apartment complex by Lavander Station

In front of the apartment complex by Lavander Station

Train going to the IMM Outlet Mall

It took us a little more than 30 minutes to go to Jurong East Station from Lavender Station. Mon explicitly requested that I co-navigate as well, as the directions from the internet can get confusing, just to go to the IMM Outlet Mall. I even took a photo of the directions from his phone, so we were on the same page.

It was not as difficult as I expected it to be, though. Save from an occasional “where is this pointing?” or “Is this the one?”, we fortunately did not get lost. It was like Hansel & Gretel. You usually see some tourists who had the same facial expression as us, leaving breadcrumbs on the way to the outlet mall.

As soon as we got inside the mall, I knew that I would be getting some decent sandals to use for the day. (I wore the same sneakers that unfortunately got me blisters).

In today's episode of 'I bought this. I did not buy this' - Timberland Leather Sandals, Ivy Park Red Baseball Cap

In today’s episode of ‘I bought this. I did not buy this’

Mon got us a pair of leather sandals from Timberland. It seems acceptable for people walking around SG to be sporting these anyway, so we will fit in just fine.

I also managed to get a pair of cute Ivy Park socks for my nephew from Adidas, and a nice shirt for my brother at Nike.

Yesterday, however, was Brie’s graduation. It was announced almost last minute and we could not go at the ceremony even if it were confirmed ahead. The pandemic guidelines disallowed more than 1 guest, thus leaving my sister to attend it.

As a graduation gift and also an early birthday gift just a few days after we get back from Singapore, I got her a pair of pink shoes from Adidas.

Hilarious exchange - I was their shoe personal shopper at IMM Nike

Hilarious exchange! I was their shoe personal shopper at IMM Nike

My sister, who goes to the office at least once a month, could also use a pair of shoes. We went to Nike instead to look for one. I may not have looked hard enough at Adidas, but the prices at Nike are generally better.

No use crying over an already bought pair. Besides, the pair from Adidas would look really nice to Brie.

Thai food at the IMM Outlet Mall

Thai food at the IMM Outlet Mall

2h00 pm coffee at Starbucks, Westgate Mall

2:00 pm coffee at Starbucks, Westgate Mall

While rummaging for alcohol, noticed that I have not removed my election cheat sheet since May from this bag (with the SGD 38 Tourist Pass+)

While rummaging for alcohol, noticed that I have not removed my election cheat sheet since May from this bag (with the SGD 38 Tourist Pass+)

We also got our lunch in between shopping. We had Tom Yum, meatballs, chicken wings and cutlets at a restaurant serving Thai food.

Before eventually leaving Jurong East, we finished off with some coffee at the Starbucks leading to the train station. We are scheduled to go to Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands late in the afternoon, and we had to drop off the things we bought at the hotel.

Leaving Jurong East Station to back to our hotel

Leaving Jurong East Station to back to our hotel

Somebody just shopped (kidding, it was for both of us)

Somebody just Shopped with a capital S

It was really a quick trip back to our room. We left the hotel at 4:00 pm, and we had to figure out (again) how to go to Marina Bay Sands.

At that point, I was already helping to figure out the train network map. We were visibly lost at Paya Lebar (the Circle line somewhat confused us), that a local eventually asked us where we were headed.

His instructions were very great. Problem was it escaped both of our minds. We reached Promenade Station only to go up and down several times the confusing the various floors. It looked like an escalator version of Snake and Ladders.

I had no idea how we got out, but we eventually reached Bayfront Station. That was all that mattered at that point. ^o^

Before and after we got lost — hard!

We reached the Gardens by the Bay area and, boy, it was hot. I was sweating like made. I also realized at that point that, although I have changed to a pair of leather sandals, it was half a size to small. The edge of the sandals at the back was hitting my heels.

This would not normally be a problem but, with my aching feet, the pain was somewhat magnified. I could still decently walk, though, albeit putting some Band-Aid on my tiny toes.

Drenched at Gardens by the Bay, with the Singapore Flyer in the background

Drenched at Gardens by the Bay, with the Singapore Flyer in the background

Around the Gardens by the Bay grounds - Balenciaga Courier

Around the Gardens by the Bay grounds

It was still a long walk ahead from the exit of the train station going to the Flower Dome. Mon clearly knew his way having been here in the past, but between my achy feet and sweaty shirt, it felt like forever.

I was looking forward to entering both the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest because of the air-conditioning, and yeah the sights too! *wink* It was definitely cool inside to keep all the plants alive, which meant I’d have the opportunity to freshen up

We got our tickets from Klook, by the way.

Inside the Flower Dome, Singapore

Inside the Flower Dome

Some succulents, Mon by the greenery, and a baobab tree (famously known from 'Le Petit Prince')

Some succulents, Mon by the greenery, and a baobab tree (famously known from ‘Le Petit Prince’)

There were a lot of Instagram-mable areas inside the Flower Dome. You would have to compete, however, with the other people who had the same thing in mind.

Among the loads of flowers inside the dome, I gravitated more to the succulents and the baobab.

We spent around 45 minutes inside. By the time we headed to the Cloud Forest, my shirt was no longer a mess. I’d survive the remaining hours.

And the selfies ensued - Cloud Forest Singapore

And the selfies ensued at Cloud Forest Singapore

Just a dramatic sunlit photo inside the Cloud Forest, with the Marina Bay Sands peeking from behind

Just a dramatic sunlit photo inside the Cloud Forest, with the Marina Bay Sands peeking from behind

We used the same voucher purchased from Klook at the Cloud Forest. Here, we had the opportunity to go up and see the vicinity through glass panes.

On the other hand, we had very little time to look around as it was already 6:00 pm when we got inside. We have yet to go to Marina Bay Sands and I had no idea how long the walk was, where to go, nor where to ascend to reach the Observation Deck.

We had to meet my friends for dinner at 7:00 PM in Newton Station. And there’s a great chance we may get lost again.

I was not sure if it was the weather or my aching feet, but I felt extra dumb navigating the train network in Singapore. That or I relied too much on Mon to find our way around because he knew if much better than me.

My two tourist pose options in Singapore - either stand or run

My two tourist pose options in Singapore – either stand or run

Not the most flattering angle, but I was not to put my Courier on the ground (and a rare teeth-showing smile)

Not the most flattering angle, but I was not to put my Courier on the ground (and a rare teeth-showing smile)

Marina Bay Sands is undoubtedly a Singaporean icon. Surprisingly, I was excited to get inside as I recall watching an episode of it in Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby  in one of our Netflix binges.

We paid for tickets on Klook to supposedly visit the Observation Deck but I did not recall having to flash those just to reach it. All I remember was us getting to Tower 3, reaching a 50-something floor, then get to another elevator to reach just another one floor. It was a big elevator blur.

The guests were also a bit hustled our and rushed by the staff as there was a scheduled event at 7:00 pm. I remember her saying to us « One round then go! » Yikes.

Nevertheless, even at 6:30 pm, we still got this amazing view. =)

Singapore viewed from the Marina Bays Sands SkyPark Observation Deck

Singapore viewed from the Marina Bays Sands SkyPark Observation Deck

Golden hours are always the best, as the most haggard-looking people still get amazing photos with the soft light. Thank you, Sun!🌞

We managed to take some panorama shots, some selfies, and some tourist shots before deciding to leave. We were there for only 20 minutes as we had to rush and brave again the travel to Newton Station.

I know I mentioned we will not do those Amazing Race-type of itineraries, but we somehow felt rushed? Mon, who always wanted to get our money’s worth, had the energy to elbow his way in to ask the staff about those digital shots we paid for. Bless him.

I was not particularly excited about that, especially I’ve seen some of the sample photos plastered on the wall. To me, they looked like those kitschy green screen photos I would not dare post.

Another selfie above the Marina Bay Sands

Mon's 'golden hour' photo - Marina Bay Sands

Mon’s ‘golden hour’ photo

And my 'golden hour' photo - Marina Bay Sands

And my ‘golden hour’ photo

When we got back to the station below Marina Bay Sands, which name escapes me, it took us about 20 more minutes to go to Newton Station.

Luckily, we were already guided which trains to take as my friend was already waiting for us. When I said we were already at Dhoby Ghaut Station, we knew we’ll get there in no time.

A flood of photos with my college friends and teammates at Newton Food Centre, Singapore --- famous for a Crazy Rich Asians scene

A flood of photos with my college friends and teammates at Newton Food Centre, Singapore — famous for a Crazy Rich Asians scene

As soon as we exited Newton Station, we immediately saw Inad. I hugged him hard as I cannot even recall when was the last time we have seen each other! It may have been around 2011 when we had a send-off for Ikle. And he as been working in Singapore for about 7 years. That has been more than a decade already! Carlou, who is taking graduate studies in SG, would be joining us eventually for dinner.

Inad wanted us to have dinner at the Newton Food Centre, and he had no idea until we told him that Crazy Rich Asians had a scene shot there. He was really too much of local now at this point to pay attention to trivial things as those.LOL

It was a challenge to get seats as it was free-for-all situation. It was like a big game of musical chairs that, as soon someone gets up, at least 3 people will try to swoop in.

We eventually got a table for 6, shared with 2 people we did not know. They had no idea they will have to endure an hour and a half of a trip down memory lane, especially the blunders we had in our college days. We virtually spent at least 3 years every evening, weekends included during competitions, as varsity members of the university.

Some transfers and 'n' steps going to Haji Lane

From Diliman to Singapore. Some transfers and ‘n’ steps going to Haji Lane

We had to eventually bring the stories somewhere else as we have been asked at least twice by 2 Caucasian tourists if we are about to leave. All of that mid-laugh.

We then made our way to Haji Lane, which was a long way from Newton Station (at least according to my weary feet). When we were almost at Haji Lane to get some drinks, Mon spotter our hotel from afar. Yes, it looked like around 350m to 400m from where we were, but there’s no way I’d walk and would rather take a quick Grab ride. Not at the end of a long day.

Mon looking at the menu (look, a girl was already vomiting behind), and a nightcap with friends at Piedra Negra

Mon looking at the menu (look, a girl was already vomiting behind), and a nightcap with friends at Piedra Negra

We continued our stories, some with more serious topics. I also learned from our resident engineer how land ownership and the housing system works in Singapore.

We had been informed not to be surprised how sometimes, some area would look different because a new building is sprouting i lieu of a previous one, that was build even a year before.

With the very finite land resources in Singapore, the government virtually owns everything. Thus, this should be properly managed.

At the end of our catch-up, we decided to call it a night and say our goodbyes, for now. Mon and I were very sure we’ll be back in Singapore soon (i.e. likely less than 6 months) as we have yet to visit other  places.

I, however, would be more ready with a better pair of shoes. Case in point, the walking situation in the last 2 days. The Health app’s steps meter basically shot up during those days.

The number of steps in the past 2 days

Still, despite my swollen feet, my heart was full to have spent the evening with friends I have not seen in years!

Hotel review and the departure

The following morning, we woke up quite late. We were to check out of the hotel at 11:00 am. Our itinerary listed us supposedly swinging by Haji Lane in the morning but, as we were already there the night before and were obviously exhausted from walking, we just had breakfast before packing up our things.

Final morning view from the Hotel Boss SG window

Final morning view from the Hotel Boss SG window

I guess I could squeeze in a quick note/review about the hotel.

We booked a Premier Double Room with Balcony from Booking.com, and it was hassle-free. However, even as we arrived in the wee hours, we unfortunately had to also pay for the entire day. To be fair, I had no idea whether there was an option for a pro-rated check-in or what, so I cannot comment on that.

The location was great, as we were only about 4 minutes walk going to Lavender Station. There was a convenience store downstairs and a McDonald’s at the station.

Our room was facing the rising sun, which meant we had the opportunity to dry our towels stiff on those reclining chairs.

We did not have a lot of opportunity to even loiter there, except when we call our families just to update. Not sure if a non-balcony room would made better sense, but I personally likes having that kind of access outdoors.

The room and the balcony

The room and the balcony

As for the internet, one common gripe I’ve noticed after from some reviews in Booking.com was the slow connection. We personally did not feel the issues that much as we were connected always at the Changi Recommenda WiFi router.

We have, however, almost always given up on YouTube on the television, as the connection was really choppy. We just put it on for some white noise as we rest and fix ourselves and our things.

As for the food, they have a decent selection, especially if you love carbs. Almost always, w just get the ham, eggs, and the curried cauliflowers or cabbages (which tasted amazing, by the way).

I would sometimes get a potato wedge and some spring rolls because, well, we paid for it so we might as well taste some. I even got just a tiny bit of those Asian noodles. We’d be walking the whole day, anyway.

Our usual hotel breakfast - Hotel Boss SG

Our usual hotel breakfast

At exactly 11:00 am, we checked out.

We were supposed to take the train going to the airport, but my legs still hurt from all the walking. We opted to take the Grab back to the airport instead (at SGD 19.80).

We had a very jovial and energetic Grab driver who, despite his age, had a lot of stories in our 20-minute ride. We had a chat about the history, politics, and culture between our countries, as well as his story of a brilliant Filipina professor she had in university in the late 80s.

Changi Airport Control Tower on our Grab ride back to the airport

Changi Airport Control Tower on our Grab ride back to the airport

When we reached Changi Airport, we had to check first where the check in counters would be. Even at 11:40 am, the line for Jetstar was already long. It won’t be open not until almost 3:00 pm.

We decided to have a quick look around by the Jewel and, last minute, decided not to proceed with our Klook reservation for the Mirror Maze and the Canopy Park. It meant we had to leave our bags somewhere else, and the line for the baggage counter was long, not even mentioning expensive. The tickets were good until December, anyway.

Tourist shots at Jewel Changi

Tourist shots at Jewel Changi

One other thing, while I left the hotel wearing the leather sandals, I eventually had to dig out my flip flops so my feet can « breathe ».

Our flight was not to leave until 5:30 pm. We still had a lot of walking to do, and some last minute souvenirs to look for.

A Changi Airport mirror selfie because the lighting was good! At this point, I gave on decent footwear and opted for my trusted Havaianas

A Changi Airport mirror selfie because the lighting was good! At this point, I gave on decent footwear and opted for my trusted Havaianas

While having our lunch at Burger King, it only dawned on us that we had to register on OneHealthPass as a requirement of the Philippines.

After we ate, we had the opportunity to walk around some more, hoping there’s something we can buy, before the check in counters open.

A bunch of greasy food from Burger King for lunch

A bunch of greasy food from Burger King for lunch

This chocolate store had caught our attention because of the black cat decors displayed all over. We already terribly missed our cats that we check on them more than we check on Lot.

I sometimes just watch them even past midnight while waiting for sleep to come. We’d catch them chasing each other in the dead of the night.

Singapore was awesome, but we missed our cats! This chocolate store has our black cat, Bami all over LOL

A bunch of greasy food from Burger King for lunch

Checking the cats at 01h00 from the apartment's CCTV. Bami was still wide awake

Checking the cats at 01h00 from the apartment’s CCTV. Bami was still wide awake

Luckily for Mon’s other sister, Anne, there was a BTS kiosk for her. So, that was one gift down among the others we hope to look for.

We also had to return the Changi Recommends WiFi router, unless we wish to keep a SGD 200 souvenir.

A BTS Kiosk at Changi Airport. Lucky Anne to have a souvenir bought from here

A BTS Kiosk at Changi Airport. Lucky Anne to have a souvenir bought from here

After checking in and before going to the immigration counter, we had a quick coffee as we were not sure if there is something we can eat inside.

As soon as we got past immigration (which was a breeze, by the way), we had at least an hour before we head to the boarding gates.

Aside from the usual Duty Free chocolates we obviously usually buy, I was looking for a particular perfume for Mama. I knew that would be a challenge given that it was likely phased out already.

Squeezing in some messages over Starbucks before we surrender the Changi Recommends WiFi

Squeezing in some messages over Starbucks before we surrender the Changi Recommends WiFi

The Irvins Salted Egg Kiosk at Changi. No, we did not buy anything.

The Irvins Salted Egg Kiosk at Changi. No, we did not buy anything.

I ended up getting a souvenir from Chow Tai Fook for her, as a remembrance of our trip to Singapore. The staff tried to sell 24k earrings to me, which obviously cost a lot more I was willing to pay.

I hoped to give this as a gift on her birthday. If she manages to see this post, then the surprise has been spoiled, then.

A simple souvenir for Mama from Changi's Chow Tai Fook

A simple souvenir for Mama from Changi’s Chow Tai Fook

Going to the boarding gate was still a long walk. The line to the X-ray machine was also crazy, and the staff from Jetstar even demanded that Mon check in one of our hand-carry as we was carrying more than the allowable number. It just so happen that my duffle bag was on top of Mon’s luggage, and I was allowed to get past the staff just ahead  of him.

Overall, we had a great time in Singapore and we were already planning our next trip back. We are likely to return December 2022 or April 2023, but with Mon’s parent in tow. We still had a look of places to visit!

Thanks, Singapore for the memorable trip!

Until next time, SG!!!

Until next time, SG!!!

bryologue

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