This is a two-month overdue continuation but let's not leave the storytelling hanging...longer! Haha.
After suggesting what to eat and where to stay at SG, here comes the hard part: coming up with suggestions of places to visit because simply, there are a lot of interesting places to check out at the Lion City. Google away and the internet will not run out of places to recommend.
But that is where the beauty of solo travel comes in. Everything on the itinerary is at your own discretion. You have free rein on what and what not to include, what day you want to do it, in what pace and you even have the very choice of ditching the whole itinerary and just go wherever your feet will take you.
My goal was to "slow travel" even if my solo jaunt was for only 4 nights and 3 days. To slow travel means not to cram so much everything on the itinerary just to tick off all the touristy places (which Singapore clearly does not lack).
No worry, no hurry. Sometimes we have this mentality to fit every "must-see" attraction on the schedule kasi sayang, andiyan ka na (you're already there) even if it ends up you rushing from one tourist place to another and leaving you burned out instead.
It's true that plane tickets could be expensive and for someone with a corporate job, Vacation Leaves could be hard to schedule and it only seems practical to make the most of your time while on a trip at somewhere far.
But hey, let's learn to live in the moment!
But hey, let's learn to live in the moment!
I wanted to travel, not tour.
I love how this travel couple puts it: to slow travel means "to – and more than anything else –
As I've mentioned, there are tons of things to do at SG and it could get overwhelming especially for a wide-eyed first timer like me. With slow travel in mind, I decided to prioritize visiting the places that I think would truly catch my fancy.
What catches your fancy is very subjective. If we are talking about fancy here, then I fancy books!
Hence, my itinerary mostly included anywhere that has something to do for anyone who is a self-proclaimed bibliophile. Such places were BooksActually, National Library and even just the bookstore chain, Books Kinokuniya. If you think I went all the way to SG to see a book vending machine and read at the library then...you're right! Lol.
But of course the usual tourist spots were also on the list such as Chinatown, Haji Lane, Sultan Mosque, Supertree Grove, Singapore City Gallery, Merlion Statue at Marina Bay Sands, Orchard Road (on a Sunday!) and I highly recommend that you should make time and watch, the WonderFull Fountain Show at Marina Bay Sands Promenade, it was beyond amazing!
Best part, no entrance fees!
If you're the artsy type (or just the feeling-artsy-type like me) visit places like the burgeoning creative neighborhood of Tiong Bahru and Red Dot Design Museum at Maxwell Road.
I did not go to Universal Studios and decided to try activities at Sentosa Island other than the theme park-experience. From Vivo City Mall, I walked to Sentosa Island (thank goodness for walkalators!) rather than taking the Sentosa Express. Upon arriving, I looked for the free shuttle bus that drops you off your destination around the island.
I alighted off the bus at Siloso Beach then went to Fort Siloso Skywalk (which involved a little tiring trek up!). I was glad with this decision because I discovered other places instead of sticking to the typical touristy ones and best of all, yet again, everything was for free!!! The only time I took out cash while at Sentosa Island was to buy bottled water because it was so humid! #CheapskateForever #TipidHits Hahaha
A personal disclaimer though: aside from trying to stay true being a #ChicCheapskate, I genuinely like walking, trekking and papawis activities hence that's what I did while at Sentosa. That particular afternoon involved a lot of sweat so to speak! But if you ain't the type, don't heed this itinerary. Lol. Whatever floats your boat lang!
But other than the sight-seeing, what I recall most from this trip are the "in-between" moments such as:
- Meeting Ate Ethel at Davao Airport. She was going solo to Singapore too so we ended up chatting while waiting for our flight. Upon arriving at Changi, we took turns taking each other's photos (first time international travelers here!) I got to meet her friends who picked her up at the airport. That's why I didn't get lost looking for the train station at Changi. It's good to meet nice people along the way!
- Just walking around, exploring. I enjoyed wandering around Jalan Besar neighborhood and getting lost on the way to train station. Hahaha. I revel in the moments just observing my new surroundings and figuring out on my own where to turn next. And I also got to see other nooks and crannies of this Lion City, away from the tourist spots. I reminisce the feeling of waking up to a new city and feeling very eager to start the day because you know you have so much to discover and then only to come back to your hostel dead tired and feet aching. Hahaha. But of course, all worth it!
- Finally finding your "balance" while riding the SMRT. Lol I did not grow up with trains as the main means of transportation (it was sikad, tricycle and jeep) maybe that's why I really enjoyed commuting via the SMRT. It was easy to understand, on time, short interval waiting, basically everything that is not what Philippine mass transport is. As what I've mentioned, when you experience this kind of convenience, you can't help but wish for it to happen as well in your own homeland.
- Traveling a little North to Sengkang and "crashing" at Riza's place because the train stations were already closed. It was unplanned but traveling solo can afford me to make my itinerary free-flowing as possible. Though it was a brief stay, I got to see other parts of Singapore. I got to stay in a HDB and even just the plain task of buying breakfast at FairPrice was an experience itself for me. Live like a local, they say. I got to learn from Riza's stories what is life like in Singapore.
- Funny how coincidental things turned out. July's mom (who was visiting him for a week or two) was also on the same flight schedule back to Davao as I was. So on my last day, I joined the mother and son duo for a downtown stroll and after parting ways with July, me and Tita Lyra trooped together to the airport until to the flight back home. What a great timing!
Now in hindsight, I arrived at the decision to go on to SG despite with no company because I knew deep down slow solo travel was something I really wanted to do. I was curious and wanted to challenge myself and it feels amazing to make it happen. There's a sense of fulfillment in challenging yourself and finding out you can do it.
I repeat: YOU.CAN.DO.IT.
But I would be over-romanticizing to say that everything went smoothly. In the middle of all the solo exploring, there would be times I berate myself and think this is really crazyyyy and of course, I did feel lonely at times. I had a few expectations that were not met. But that's what travel teaches you: learn how to manage your expectations.
Yet I realized that my prime motivation for this trip was more than just the sight-seeing and picture-taking for Instagram's sake. It was more of getting out of my comfort zone and giving myself the opportunity to see the world and experience first hand how different (or how similar) other cultures are. The eye has to travel with a purpose.
Overcome your fears too! Sometimes we are conditioned to just stay right where we are. Some fears are irrational and sometimes born out from lack of trust to Our Big Guy up there.
What if something bad happens? What if my money's not enough? What if I end up just being terribly lonely?
All but WHAT IFS.
Get yourself out there! (***Cue in Moana song: How Far I'll Go***) Lol.
Phew! To end this, I will not encourage you to try solo travel because I know it's not for everyone. Some people will shake their heads and balk at the idea of it and I respect that. But what I encourage of you is to do that one thing you always say you wanted to do for the longest time. Go for your goal/s. Try things and see for yourself.
Whatever that one thing is, just do it!
Thank you for your time reading. :)