May 2 Wed, 1130am
Philippine Airlines PR503 landed at Changi Airport. After three hours of traveling by plane, we finally landed on Singapore soil. It is my first time to travel in Singapore and I am really excited about this trip. I’ve been thinking of spending holiday break for quite some time now and luckily, I was given the opportunity to indulge on a Singapore holiday break. Though my main purpose for the trip is purely business, I am still glad I was able to extend my trip for a couple of days for a little holiday shopping break! :)
Singapore airport is quite big compared to our very own NAIA airport. Immigration is efficient and fast with no luggage or long queuing of lines experienced. Truly a haven compared to our NAIA airport. Our airport transfer (brand new Toyota van) already in-tow to bring us to AMARA Hotel in the city.
On our way to Amara Hotel at Tanjong Pagar Rd, I cannot help to notice how clean and progressive the city is. From the tall skyscrapers towering the metropolis to orderly lined condominiums along the road. The surroundings very clean, no air pollution and no traffic experienced. The roads are wide and you can see lush trees and greens along the road. Truly a different experience from our usual airport scenery in Manila. The drive went very smoothly with our happy Chinese driver chatting along the entire trip. We arrived at our hotel shortly 15 minutes after we left the airport.
Our hotel, AMARA HOTEL in Tanjong Pagar Road
After our first official meeting, we were met by our local friends based in Singapore. The couple, Brenda and Ricky brought us to some of the city scenic spots at Singapore. Our first stop, the Esplanade Drive. We had our pictures taken from the famous Merlion Park and the Esplanade Theater. The locals call this theater as “Durian Theater” probably because of its durian fruit-like shape.
By 8pm, we all got hungry and our local friends brought us to the famous Hawker’s Center at Newton Circle. According to our friends, this is the cleanest Hawker’s Center in the area. The place is full of stall-type stores with fresh seafood to be cooked a la carte. This is similarly like our very own “Dampa” version in Manila. We ordered the local’s favorite food; chili crab with mantou bread, buttered-garlic tiger prawns, baby squid, yang-chow rice and grilled chicken wings. I can vouch that the food was really, really yummy… for somebody who loves seafood, this is truly a delight! Though the price is quite steep (S$30/order) but really worth every cent!
May 3, Thursday
After concluding our official meetings at 3pm, I went directly to IKEA at Tampines Road. Quite far from our hotel, but nevertheless, I bravely took the SMRT ride alone going to IKEA. I learned from the locals that the store at Tampines Road is the biggest outlet in Singapore. True enough, the IKEA otulet is a 4-storey warehouse-type building with all the cool and nice furniture pieces that made me wish I can transport back to Manila. I bought some home and decor items; and kids stuff for Sam's bedroom. Surprisingly, IKEA advocates self-service check out counters wherein each customer need to pack their own purchases! And the plastic or paper bags not a free item but you need to buy it at S$0.30/ea. Truly a first experience for me! It took me quite some time packing all my purchases. I even regret buying bulky items like Sam’s lamp shade and wooden center piece bowl because it gave me difficult time fitting these items inside my plastic bags. Hahaha! Obvious di talaga marunong ng efficient packing techniques! :) (trivia: whenever I travel, my hubby always pack my clothes! He's more organized and knows how to maximize space!)
Anyway, to share my SMRT experience, my first SMRT ride was really fun! The map was very helpful and the SMRT signs and instructions easy to understand. I was able to do change-transit rides on my second day already like a pro! Hahaha! One of our local friends, James even commented that I’ve traveled more SMRT locations/stops than he did for the past 6 months. Iba na ang gala at shopaholic! lol.
After my IKEA experience, I went back to Amara Hotel to unload my bags. Then just checked my emails and changed to comfy shoes and went to Bugis, three SMRT stops away from our hotel. Bugis Street is well- known in Singapore as one of their local thrift shops or “tiangges” . The place is like our very own Greenhills and 168 Mall in Divi. I was not able to buy much here since some of the items somehow also available in Manila, but I was able to get nice bags for my Mom and MIL at a very reasonable price. Well… one thing also good about the Bugis place, you can haggle with the vendors to get discounts. Since I got little hungry from my window-shopping, I’ve decided to explore the local food stand at Bugis. Uncertain which street food to get, I decided to take the popular choice... grilled chicken-cheese hotdog. Yummy and really worth it at S$1.50/ea.
By 7pm, we all decided to meet up at Orchard Road to do more shopping. I was able to shop at Gap and Esprit store for my baby Sam (again). Price from these stores 30% cheaper than In-Style stores from Shangrila Mall.
For dinner, we decided to eat at Noodle House in Orchard Road. After eating for the past two days purely spicy food, we all decided to be on the safe-side this time. We tried the old and tested Chinese favorites; yang chow fried rice, roasted spareribs, beef brisket noodle, dumplings, sweet and sour pork and roasted duck. While the kids got the ever-reliable Mc Do burger for dinner! Real familiar treat for all of us!
May 4, Friday
Finally...last day of my official business function at Singapore.
Mike arrived from Manila and went straight to Amara Hotel. After leaving his things, we left the hotel for late lunch just across the street. Mike wanted to try the authentic Singaporean food which why is we ended up eating in one of the small stalls at Tanjong Pagar Road. Food price here is relatively cheaper compared from our previous day lunch experience. Each meal cost around S$3-S$5 only. He ordered the roasted duck with noodles. While being the rice person I am, I’ve decided to get the roasted pork with fried rice. After the satisfying meal, we decided to stroll around the area. We got Chinese egg tarts and peanut butter waffle (S$1.50/ea) from one of the local bakery stores for desserts. Highly recommendable and must-tastes are the peanut butter waffles!
Our next stop, Suntec City Mall. Another shopping trip for all of us. Since we are still early for the Giant Fountain Show at Suntec, Mike and I decided to leave the place and explore the city. Since he was hungry again and craving for local food (this is his favorite past time : eating and exploring new food!) , we took a cab and went to Lau Phasat Festival. This is another must-see Hawker’s place recommended by cab drivers for tourist. We ate mostly dumplings like Shrimp Hakao, Pork siomai, Chee paw (siopao) and lots of noodles! :) Truly authentic Chinese cooked- food!
From Lau Phasat, we walked our way to Esplanade Drive. Passing the towering office buildings from Raffles City and OUB Mall for another shopping treat! By 7pm. We decided to go back to Suntec City Mall to meet up with our friends for the Giant Fountain Show.
Mike and I at Merlion Park and Sun Tec City Mall
Giant Fountain at Sun Tec City Mall
Since Mike was not able to join us in our seafood eating spree at Newton Circle, I decided to bring him together with his Singapore-based highschool friend, James and fiancée Meanne. Again, because of the yummy experience I had during my first visit at this place, we ordered the same viands for Mike to enjoy. Chili garlic crab with mantou bread, buttered tiger prawns, baby squid and fried rice. New item added by Meanne, fried oatmeal covered shrimps…another SNG best seller!
May 5, Saturday
We rode the SMRT line from our friend’s house at Sembawang Rd to Harbour View line. The SMRT train travel took us 25 minutes until we reach Vivo City.
Vivo City is another shopping mall complex cum park and swimming area near Sentosa Park which is really amazing. The park and swimming area is located on the 4th level of the mall. CROCS outlet can be found here. From Vivo City, we rode another train to bring us to Sentosa Park (S$3/pax).
Sentosa Park is somehow like the Ocean Park in HK. Sentosa is divided into different theme parks which kids will truly enjoy. For us adults, we enjoyed the Underwater World. Its quite similar to the giant underwater aquarium of Ocean Park. The difference, there is a small fish petting area for kids to enjoy. The underwater world ticket is S$19/pax but it also includes the Dolphin show. The dolphin show is kinda ok...but I prefer our very own Ocean Adventure in Subic. The show here is more entertaining, facilities better and entrance fee rate much cheaper. You can even watch two marine shows at Subic performaed by sea lions and dolphins.
For the fun rides, I love most was the luge and cable car ride (S$19/pax). Had great time riding the luge…it’s like skateboard riding (while seated) cruising down steep hill. Truly one ride is not enough on the luge! A must activity at Sentosa! Double it with the thrilling cable car ride. Great experience!
Unfortunately, we were not able to ride the famous open cable car, it was under maintenance during our trip :( And we missed the “Songs of the Sea” due to limited time.
Some pictures of our SENTOSA Trip
At 8pm, I tried to catch up at Sim Lim at Rochar Road for electronics gadget shopping. Riding the SMRT from Sentosa to Rochar is about 30 minutes. When I arrived at Sim Lim, most of the shops already closed. I really felt bad that time since I really wanted to check out digicam and dvd camorders. I even got approval from Mike to purchase iPOD if the price is not higher than S$300. Unfortunately, all the shops already closed and I was not able to get anything at Sim Lim. Aaarrggghhh!!
Anyway, at Sim Lim, we met up with Mike’s close high school buddies. We met Benjie (the doctor) and James (soon to be hitched). We had dinner in one of the Thai restaurants along Bugis street.. it’s definitely no noodle meal for us! By past 9pm, we decided to take a cab and head to one of Sing’s famous gimik place, Clark Quay.
Clarke Quay is like our very own Eastwood City. It is an open place with bars along the area. The bars filled with pretty-dressed up yuppie girls wearing skimpy skirts, plunging neckline blouses and bare back shirts… really heavenly sight for men! :) What caught my attention is the Clinic Bar at Clarke Quay. The bar looks like a real hospital clinic complete with hospital bed, clinic partitioned-walls, drinks in I.V or dextrose containers. And there was even morgue and OR room set up as décor! Really cool…I mean cold as well! :)
We then decided to have a drink and unwind at Forbidden City Bar. The façade is somewhat like the Ancient China ruins complete with gigantic terracotta warriors. We really had great time here. We had good food, superb party music, drinks and with great friends to enjoy the place! Btw, this is where I had my taste of Singaporean Sling! (S$12/glass) Not too strong and real good.
Mc Do Café was our next destination for coffee (and fries) by 3am. We said goodbyes to our gracious host James and Benjie that morning. Promising that come June, Mike will organize stag party for soon-to-be hitched, James! Can’t wait to see them again here in Manila. (oh by the way, I was lucky that James offered to bring home some IKEA items for me! Hahaha! He’s asking for trouble! )
May 6, Sunday
Off to Changi airport by 10am. Can’t believe we are about to leave SNG. I felt that I still missed a lot of things and places to see like visiting the Animal Zoo and Night Safari :( I haven’t visited Funan and Sim Lim yet for electronics gadget shopping! But, thinking about my little Sam waiting for me back in Manila, I suddenly had a change of heart...can’t wait to be home with her! Can't wait to hear her voice, can't wait to hear her call me "mommy" , can't wait to hug and kiss her! I really miss my little Sam!! I know it’s not coincidental why we haven’t gone to Animal Zoo and Night Safari …probably on our next trip to SNG…definitely this will be another must see places to visit. But this time, with Sam! :)
Sorry for the long post! 'til our next travel...