Seriously, it’s exhausting to have trips abroad wherein you just returned from one country and need to leave 3 weeks after. But it’s a new experience overall. To be honest, I didn’t prepare for my Singapore trip as much as I did for my Hong Kong trip where I read tons of blogs and forums.
Our trip was from Oct 1, 2014-Oct 5, 2014, a school trip and arranged by a travel agency, so I’ll skip all the tours we did and just share what I did. Basically, Monday and Wednesday were full of tours and Tuesday was half day because one of the tour destination only allowed 30 students and some of us were in the other bus. So while others did 6 tours, some people did all of them. Saturday and Sunday was a free day.
Our flight was via Tiger Air (Oct. 1, 2014 / 5:15am) at NAIA Terminal 1 early in the morning. Our call time was 2am and we were able to finish check in by 4:30am. NAIA Terminal 1 was so different with NAIA Terminal 3 and definitely so so incomparable with Changi Airport Terminal 2. We had to wait for a hour or more just to check in. There was only one counter at the beginning so of course people piled up there. I thought we were the last ones in line until 30+ people were behind us, all bound for Singapore. It wasn’t that bad, just that the unwelcoming colors of NAIA 1 during that time made it look like time was so slow.
The only place in the airport which sells food is from a makeshift cart. Some things which I’ve remembered were junk food, drinks and instant noodles.
Payment for terminal fee and immigration were a breeze though it was the first time I was asked for my ID. After immigration, a small Duty Free and a few food carts were available.
We waited at our boarding gate since the plane hasn’t arrived yet. After boarding, our plane ride to Singapore was pretty much sleeping. What I would like to comment was Tiger Air was better in terms of boarding the people to the plane than Cebu Pacific. Cebu Pacific didn’t have coordination, after those with children and the elderly boarded, everyone just rushed inside the plane. Whereas in Tiger Air, they let those people who sat at the back ride the plane first (of course excluding those who really are priority).
We arrived at Singapore around 8:45am (delayed trip). When we arrived, there were a long line at the immigration already. After immigration, it was a real breeze.
While waiting for the others, I decided to exchange my HKD500 to SGD. Airport rates are lower than money exchangers in the city state. I was able to get 81 SGD for my 500HKD.
I originally wanted to get some breakfast at Mcdo but decided not to since I didn’t see something in the menu which I liked.
After we were assembled, we got on the bus and went to the first stop of the tour. And then after the tour, we went to the hotel area to have a quick lunch.
We were brought to a Kopitiam branch which was near our hotel, Strand Hotel (will do a separate review on this). The place was packed and it was difficult to find a seat. Aside from that, honestly, I had a difficult time choosing what to eat. Not because there’s a wide array of choices, being picky that is (I also find the price a bit expensive). I decided to play safe and order my favorite Asado (Char-siew pork). Fortunately, it looked like what I usually eat (The one I had in Hong Kong was so different).
The dish itself was very normal. A bit expensive too, considering you can get something cheaper with rice and 2 viand at a different stall but of course, it was still my choice. I can’t remember the taste unfortunately, because was very hungry at that time. Fortunately, there were only 1-2 fatty pieces.
Normally, I would hate to get it over sauced like this (especially if the sauce placed tastes like Siopao sauce) but I also hate it when they don’t put in some sauce and give it to me as something so dry. I love to pair it with Hoisin sauce.
After eating, I went go to the nearby 7-11 to buy a local Sim card and Ezlink card. The cashier was Filipino. She probably knew I could speak Filipino because my classmates already went there before me and since I don’t probably sound like a local.
The Ezlink card is a convenient mode of payment for transportation, grocery and etc… It is similar to Hong Kong’s Octopus card. I had mine loaded at 25 SGD (5 SGD is non-refundable cost of the card so that means I only have an actual balance of 20 SGD).
As recommended by the tour guide, I got Singtel’s hi! Prepaid Sim which cost 15 SGD and had a value of 18SGD. Bring your passport when buying, since they register the person who owns the Sim card (not like here).
First thing I did was subscribe to the 1 GB data plan (cost me 7 SGD and is valid for 7 Days) and call my parents. For me, 15 SGD was enough for my 5 day stay in Singapore.
- For Singtel’s Call Rates to the Philippines and other pertinent information regarding the sim card: HERE
- For Singtel’s Data Plans: HERE
One thing I still haven’t figured out is my Singaporean number…
We had to be at the hotel’s lobby at a certain time and we were off to the 2nd tour destination.
After the 2nd tour, we went back to the hotel and were given a room. It also means free time! After fixing my things, I went to Queenstown MRT to go to IKEA Alexandra. This part is so funny! I just realized when I went to this place that I’m really not good at directions, don’t even know how to follow Google Maps. Funny thing is I bought an android phone just for this trip and still got lost. I think I wasted 45 minutes getting lost. I bought a few household stuff at IKEA and decided to take the bus back. Thankfully, because I got some experience from riding buses in Hong Kong, not a total noob. I kept on looking at my phone to see whether I’ve missed my stop.
I finally arrived at what Google said was supposed to be my stop but still got lost. Seeing the Kopitiam from before, I knew I was in the right direction.
Oh! what really made this area (Bencoolen) confusing is the current construction of the Bencoolen line, so you won’t actually see a road but rather a lot of construction blockages going on.
I went again to Kopitiam because I was hungry. I actually don’t have a picture of my dinner but I think it was of Thai origin. I remember it was Tom Yum something and it cost me 5.50 SGD.
Normally, I can’t tolerate spicy food. But I told myself be adventurous and try something Thai and hot since I haven’t yet. The result was, it took me an hour to finish up the whole thing. The taste was something unique: herby, sour, hot, and spicy. I didn’t particular hated it, it just was so difficult to eat because there were things in it which were new to my taste buds. I wasn’t able to finish the soup due to its spiciness.
To add to it, I don’t know what got to me and ordered “Teh O” (1.30 SGD). Silly me forgot but it was so obvious that ‘Teh’ means tea in Hokkien. Also paid an additional 10 cents because it was take away. Since I just finished eating something hot, I didn’t find the drink enticing. It was also too black for my taste.
And that ends my first day in this beautiful, sunny city.