IMMIGRATION OFFICER: "So it's your first time traveling abroad?"
IMMIGRATION OFFICER: "You traveled alone?"
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*
*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."
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.
-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!
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, I think their focus was shifted more at catering the long line of curious 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 on 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...