3.12.2017

#SINGLEPORE 2016 PART 2



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!

I wanted to travel, not tour.

I love how this travel couple puts it: to slow travel means "to choose experiences over sights – and more than anything else – quality over quantity".



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 BooksActuallyNational 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 ChinatownHaji Lane, Sultan MosqueSupertree Grove, Singapore City GalleryMerlion 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 did not 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 timesI 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. :)







1.01.2017

#SINGLEPORE 2016

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: "So it's your first time traveling abroad?"

ME: "Yes."

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: "You traveled alone?"

ME: "Yes."

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: "Will someone pick you up here in the airport?"

ME: "No one. I'll take the train, I trust your train system." 

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: *Closing his eyes, breathing deeply as if exasperated* 

"OK."

*Stamps my Passport* 

WELCOME TO SINGAPORE!!!


Happy New Year mga ka-DDS! Hahaha.

Most are on nostalgic mode thinking of the year that was. This solo trip to Singapore last November undoubtedly was my 2016's biggest highlight. I've shared in a previous post that solo travel is something that appeals to me and would love to do more of.

BUT! I originally didn't plan on going all by myself to Singapore because happiness is only real when shared, right??? I first planned it with two of my closest friends. But things happen and each has his/her own life priorities (mine just happens to be travel), so they decided not to push through.

Well, I decided to just go and do it because...

1.) Earlier this year I had my first taste of solo travel when I went to Makati for something work related. I rented an AirBnB and stayed at the city for 3 nights and 3 days. If I survived Makati alone, I can survive SG! #IndependentWoman Charot.

2.) The flight is direct from Davao to Singapore (vice versa). Flying abroad without going through the hassle of NAIA (once dubbed as the world's worst airport) is a comforting thought to someone like me who lives in Mindanao. Just board the plane at Davao Airport, close your eyes for 4 hours and et voila, nasa Singapore ka na! Haha

3.) Singapore is known to be one of the safest cities in the world, perfect for female solo travel.

4.) I personally know at least *two people in SG whom I can get in touch with while there in case an emergency happens.

*two people whom I shamelessly bothered. Hehehe. Thank you so much for your time and company Riza & July!



As the Proverb goes "when the will is ready, the feet are light." 
Let's go!


First thing's first, let's get on with the details:

Airfare ticket cost: Php 7,167.13 w/ 15kg baggage allowance on the flight back. You could score less than this (as low as Php 4,000.00 to 5,000.00 ++). If via Davao,not Manila. Abanger mode lang sa Cebu Pacific website for promos and ninja moves sa pag-book!
Travel tax: Php 1,620.00
Terminal Fee (Davao Airport): Php 700.00 (For international flights)

For Philippine Passport holders, there's no need for a Visa when traveling to Singapore. All you need is your valid PH Passport and ticket (that might be a common knowledge for travel enthusiasts but let's just drop that information there, might be helpful to some).


You need an EZ Link Card to get around SG. Singapore is a popular destination for Filipinos, so chances are, you may know someone who had been there and that person may have possibly own an EZ Link Card. My officemate suggested this brilliant idea: borrow an EZ Link Card instead of buying one. Just top it up (reload) while at SG. #TipidHits

I was really amazed by their SMRT (Singapore Mass Rapid Transit). I didn't regret one bit telling the immigration officer that I trust SG's train system. It was so easy to understand and very efficient! 

After you experience that kind of convenience in mass transport, you can't help but wish for something like it to happen in your own homeland. Soon enough in the Philippines I hope! Change is coming,

Accomodation: 7 Wonders Hostel

I stayed at 7 Wonders Hostel at Jalan Besar neighborhood. I found it at AirBnB but booked at their official website (you pay for a little less if you book directly at their site). It's a hostel with capsule-type accommodation. It was my first time trying the capsule-type accommodation because it's the cheapest option out there.


My room was called "The Leaning Tower" which I shared with 6 other female occupants. Not bad, one way of meeting other people as well (met an Indian girl, British backpackers and Filipinas too!).

I thought I might get claustrophobic but turned out the bed was spacious enough (or I just happen to have a small body frame haha). But if you're tired from all the walking the whole day, you'll just pass out at whatever type of bed I guess.

 Why I recommend 7 Wonders Hostel:

-7 Wonders Hostel opened early of 2016. A newly built or renovated hostel is always a good choice. Why? Because everything is still clean. The bathrooms were still fresh looking, the robes and towel were not yet worn out.

-It's near a GREEN LINE MRT station (Lavender Station). It's the Green Line that travels to and from Changi Airport. Kumbaga, isang sakayan lang (in English: one ride only) Lol.

Less hassle especially when it's time to fly back home. It's expected that your baggage doubles compared to what you originally came with (paano nalang ang mga pasalubong para sa officemate mong nag sit-in para sayo hahaha). It's so convenient that there's no need to interchange trains with all the additional baggage (except for the Tanah Merah interchange, but it's still the green line).

-They offer free luggage storage (some hostels charge per hour for luggage storage). This is an advantage especially if you have to checkout by 12 noon but your flight is at say, 9:30 pm pa.

-Their reception lobby is Instagram friendly hehe (pictured below) #MillenialDecisions


Accommodation Cost: SGD 80.64 for 3 nights (around Php 3,000.00) w/ breakfast. So worth the money!

Food/Drinks:

1.) Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

I queued for an hour to try the famed Michelin starred Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken. It has become a hype in Singapore since it was the first hawker stall to win a Michelin star award.

My honest verdict? Okay lang. The queue was long as expected. In my humble opinion, due to the booming demand, their focus was shifted more at catering the curious crowd/tourists to the point that the quality of their chicken was a bit compromised. Quantity over quality. The chicken I ordered wasn't well cooked (there was still blood at it). It wasn't juicy as what the reviews said.

It was still an experience though. A check off my list for things to try at SG. And hey, for a cheapskate like me, that may be the only Michelin starred meal I could ever afford...2 SGD only!

2.)  HOKKIEN MEE (FRIED PRAWN NOODLES)

The Hokkien Mee at Food Republic (NEX Mall) was hands down, the best tasting meal I ever had in SG! My friend Riza recommended it to me. Actually, nilibre niya ako, kaya best tasting meal...kasi libre! Hahaha.

Not to oversell it, but it was really good. Even up to now, I could still remember how it tastes (tangy and saucy). The kalamansi goes well with the sauce and noodles. I think that's an indication that a food is really great...when the taste becomes a memory. Char!


I'm a firm believer that no matter how you research, the best food recommendations will always come from the locals. My friend Julmar is based in Singapore for awhile and he was gracious enough to meet me and eat lunch with his Mom at Islamic Restaurant Singapore (it's near the Arab Mosque).


I liked the Naan (soft bread) and the dip that came with it. We were escorted at the Upper Room of the restaurant and it was a bit more quiet there than the restaurant downstairs. Until now, I don't know if it was some sort of an updgrade. Haha. Thanks July!

4.) KOI MILK TEA

Singapore is very humid, you'll get thirsty from all the walking. You need something to refresh you thirsty throat with. The funny thing was that this KOI Cafe Milktea was what Riza and July both recommended for me try and it happened on two separate occasions. It's legit guys, KOI Milktea is the thing. Haha. Go for the Hazelnut flavor. 


What is your 2016's biggest highlight?

TO BE CONTINUED...
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