A chill but expensive trip in Singapore

singapore

A chill but expensive trip in Singapore

When
October 17-23, 2016

Why
I came here from Cyprus to attend ITB Asia as the representative of the company I work for in Tanzania.

Highlight
This one’s a special trip because it’s my mom and youngest brother’s first trip outside the country. I went here for work to attend ITB Asia but I had 4 days extra so I asked them to come. During the first two days, my mom was always complaining because of too much walk invloved. She would be tired after 3 or 4 hours of walking and would demand for all of us to go home. At first, I was annoyed because I feel like she’s wasting this travel opportunity. I was almost hopeless because there’s no way we can “do” Singapore without walking and taking cabs would just be too unrealistically expensive.

But then, I reminded myself of the kind of traveler I was when I was just starting on the road. I should be more patient especially with my mom who’s used to just being around the house most of the time. Surprisingly, she got the hang of it and was eventually able to walk for longer hours at a faster pace.

I also liked how both my mom and brother would notice how much better Singapore is in terms of infrastructure and overall system like with the traffic, disposing garbage, following traffic rules, etc… It was very good for them to gain perspective on these things. We need to experience these things so we can learn from them, know our ground, realize our potentials, and understand our weaknesses. Not just for ourselves but for our country and the people.

When we got home in Manila, I can’t help but smile as they make comments and comparisons with the traffic in Manila versus in Singapore (among others).

My favorite part was how this trip was a very good bonding opportunity for all three of us. In our family, talking about how your day went just don’t exist at all. Growing up, I have no memory where I would tell my mom that I was being bullied in school or I was bullying someone in school. We don’t say “I love you” or makes sweet gestures toward each other. We just don’t do that. We had our own thing and we just go home to sleep, and eat. In our Air bnb apartment in Singapore where there’s no local channels for my mom to watch, no video games for my brother to play, and no friends for me to meet outside… we were kind of trapped. And so we were forced to “communicate”. We prepared meals, we walked around the mall, and stayed close with each other as we navigate places. In some instances, we would talk over meals about things we normally don’t talk about. We discussed how my brother was who’s living in Australia, we gossiped about this relative who’s gaining so much weight. Basically, the setting forced us to bring out whatever’s left of our family social skills.

For this, Singapore will always have a special place in my heart.

Then and Now
This is my 2nd time in Singapore. The first time was back in 2013 with my ex-boyfriend, which was my 2nd time out of the country. I remember how back then, I didn’t want to walk a lot and had no idea how to navigate. I left all that to my ex-boyfriend. All I cared for was taking photos and doing all the touristy stuff. I was not wowed the first time I saw Singapore but I remember being amazed with how orderly the country was.

Now in 2016, I’m still not wowed by Singapore. I won’t even choose to go there if not for work. Not for anything negative but simply because I’m a nature person who likes the sun, sand, and sea and Singapore is the exact opposite with all their tall buildings, and man-made establishments. They even have an artificial beach.

But let it be known that I have met friends in Ecuador and Cyprus who were completely amazed at the mention of Singapore saying that they heard it was “The Future”. By “The Future”, I think they meant all the high-rise buildings especially the futuristic-looking Marina Bay Sands with its “big banana looking” thing atop. Imagining Ecuador as I write this, I could understand why they would be so amazed because it’s a different infrastructure type altogether.

Food, Culture, Cost
– Because I’m Asian, I’m all for soup, noodles, and chopsticks. If I have to live in Singapore, perhaps I might consider because at least I can last with the kind of food they have.
– I feel like Singaporeans are not the friendliest but compared to Europeans, I can’t complain.
– I like that they are very courteous people and seem to treat each other with respect. You can easily see this with how everyone behaves. The simple gesture of following traffic rules in itself is an act of courtesy.
– I find Singapore very expensive especially compared to its neighboring Asian countries. You just can’t go to so many interesting places where you would feel like you’ve hit the jackpot for cheap finds.
– It’s amazing how there’s so many Filipinos here. Like a “lot”. You will encounter “us” everyday, wherever you go, whatever you do 🙂 And it’s funny that they have this mall called Lucky Plaza, which is like the “Filipino mall”. Here, you will find cheap tickets to most attractions, find the cheapest souvenirs, flight packages, Filipino foods, and everything else Filipino.
– Most people including kids are wearing eyeglasses. I remember someone told me that the reason for this is because these kids live in a small enclosed space (condo) so their eyesight has not been properly trained. Whatever.
– Most people are on their phones all the time but maybe this is the same for the rest of the world these days
– You would hear Filipinos all the time because they have a particularly scandalous laugh but maybe this is the same for Filipinos in the rest of the world
– Most if not all houses are condominium types
– Singaporeans don’t smile when you make eye contact with them but this is not a human nature anyway
– There’s a lot of Indians as well everywhere
– The rush hour can get crowded but still orderly. It doesn’t get almost violently chaotic like in Manila
– The bars and pubs don’t make me feel like getting drunk. It’s either like a sit down restaurant where it’s too elegant or in an outside area where it’s not too cozy.

Pros
– Probably one of the best, if not the best transportation system I’ve ever experienced. You can go anywhere easily. Train, trams, and buses are very well-connected.
– Very clean and orderly. People are well-disciplined.
– Best for people who has lots of money to spare for shopping designer brands
– A safe place to visit ideal for family with kids
– A good starting point to practice “solo traveling” because it’s a safe country
– Singapore is a perfect example of how a country should behave. The rest of the world should learn from Singapore rising to be the “futuristic” country that they are now. I used to think how Philippines is so much better in terms of natural resources like beach, mountains etc… but still, we lag so much behind because of poor governance. Singapore was able to maximize whatever resources they have and now they receive more tourists than ever.

Cons
– Relatively expensive but there are cheaper options for foods (like food courts)
– The entrance fees to most attractions are expensive
– This is not a place nature lovers will enjoy
– There’s a lot of stuff to see but I don’t find them interesting enough because they have all been made for tourists. They made universal studios, the huge gardens, etc… but it seemed so artificial to me. I remember telling my brother that Singapore seemed to me like the setting of the “Truman’s show”. What interests me are natural and historical places that existed there for years and witnessed centuries of histories.

Will I go back?
If I have to for work… why not.
But if I were to shed my own money, I won’t. Cause I’d rather see other places instead.
Also, Singapore is quite expensive and too “futuristic” for me. I see myself more in an isolated beach where there’s nothing and you need to make your own fire, sleep in the sand, kind of thing.

Takeaway
I don’t get excited at the thought of being in Singapore and would tell myself that I’d rather go to a new country that I haven’t been. While traveling, I met people whose eyes would twinkle with the whole idea of being in Singapore and they were so envious that I have been there or that I’m headed there. Just because it’s not exactly a country in line with my interests doesn’t mean that I should take it for granted. Singapore has its own charm, a country beautiful on its own, and a country in someone else’s bucket list and I’m one of the lucky people on earth to have set foot in this country not once but twice!

Remember for next time
– Buy tickets to major attractions in Kabayan store at Lucky Plaza (universal, gardens by the bay, etc…)
– There’s this card that tourists can avail which will allow them to use transportation systems unlimited or at a very low cost and they can refund the cost of the card upon departure
– It’s okay to pick an accommodation outside of the city center because the public transportation is very efficient and well-connected and the whole city is still relatively small. We stayed in Sengkang and had a 2BR apartment with pool and gym. It’s a 40 minute train ride to Marina Bay Sands but commuting was always a bliss.
– You will enjoy Singapore better if you went with kids. I think this place will be too boring for solo travelers looking for adventure.
– Take a bus to Malaysia
– Visit the outskirts of Singapore. I wonder if there’s a place with no buildings. I haven’t seen can actual detached house because it’s all condo. I wonder if such thing even exists

No Comments

Post A Comment