Published: August 26th 2009August 21st 2009 Pre-Travel Blues
Welcome to Singapore
I wasn't supposed to take photos and was asked to delete the ones I've taken, but I got to keep this one :)
This might become one of "many" future solo trips or this might turn out to be an experience that will make me forget about the idea of traveling alone. I’ve been trying to motivate myself in the past days to make myself an itinerary or plan a more organized trip … in vain. I had been feeling too down to even want to do anything and I even thought of just cancelling the trip. The past days have not been great but aside from personal stuff going on, this usually happens days prior to a trip. It’s the time again when I would keep asking myself why am I doing this? Why do I have to go? What’s there to see anyway? Why do I have to wake up at dawn to go to the Airport? Why do I want to go to an unfamiliar place and get lost? Am I sure about this? No
But then again, like what always happens, there must be something good that's gonna happen on this trip... The First Day: People and Culture
Standing in the check-in queue took so long that I thought I was gonna see my plane
take off without me (and I thought I was too early at the Airport.sheesh!)
. I still don’t have a proper itinerary but at least I have a list of places that I want to see. I was starting to get scared about this idea of travelling alone but at the moment, I’m starting to feel excited about the new adventure. The immigration officer was sort of insinuating that I was gonna fly to another country through Singapore and was making comments about my expired UK working visa, then she saw my two-way ticket and all went fine. I wonder why Immigration officers look less friendly than any other people working at airports. Is it part of their job to look as tough as possible?
One of the last minute decisions about the trip is to finally agree (to my parents bugging me)
to let an Aunt who is working in Singapore, know I was coming. A couple of weeks ago, I also got a text from Keith asking how my plan about the Singapore trip was going. Me and my sister met "K" four months ago at the hostel we stayed in during our trip in Macau. He lives
the Singapore Map he gave me was totally helpful!
in Singapore and I was actually surprised that he still remembered about my plan to visit Singapore at around August. So yeah, I MIGHT see Keith and my Auntie.
We landed at Changi Airport Budget Terminal at a 27 degrees Celsius heat and man, Singapore is HOT, Literally! Philippines is just as warm, only Singapore is more humid. As we land, I saw more greenery than what I was expecting. I wasn’t really sure where to go so I just followed people out, managed to find the free shuttle to Terminal 2 where the MRT was, and had my EZ Link card (loaned by a colleague)
topped up. I can actually get a taxi but I wanted to get acquainted with their metro system so I decided to take it instead. Their train system is just as impressive as Hong Kong’s, only less crowded. I almost got off at the wrong side but someone saved me from riding the wrong train which would take me back to the airport again. Phew! The person who was nice enough to let me know I am stupid was a Brazilian guy named Alex Coelho. He had been working for his Christian Church
in the Philippines for four years, knew how to speak Tagalog and has been going back and forth SG and PI weekly in the past 3 months. I actually pass by their church everyday on my way to/from work. Does his surname ring a bell? His surname reminded me of a Brazilian novelist/lyricist Paulo Coelho (most known novel is perhaps The Alchemist)
, the author who wrote one of my favorite novels Veronika Decides to Die
. I forgot to ask if they we’re in any way related or if Coelho is just a common surname in Brazil.
I only had a written direction from my hostel to follow and the Singapore guide Map that Alex gave me was such a big help. I found my hostel without much hassle. Sleepy Sam's
is located near Arab St. and is just a few minutes walk from the Bugis MRT Station. It was a bit crowded when I arrived, majority were Caucasians backpackers. Again, I was expecting a little different scenario and neither was I expecting that the owner/manager would be caucasian. Kevin was nice (the owner or the manager?)
but I had to wait a bit before I was able
to get the key to my room as I believe they were short staffed that day. I stayed at the female dorm which had more or less seven double bunks and drapes in between for a little privacy. Yes, I loved it! And another thing that amused me was the fact that I was in an Asian country, staying in a hostel owned/managed by a Caucasian, located at Singapore’s Malay and Arab community. The main landmark of the (Bussorah)
Street is the Sultan Mosque whish is the congregation point for Singapore Muslims. I wanted some cultural diversity ... can't get any better.
White or Brown Toast + spread + fruits + coffee or tea or water, that's to be my breakfast everyday; after eating one today, I started to wander around planning to ride the Singapore Flyer and go to the Night Safari later on. I decided to take the 15 minutes walk along the North Bridge Road to the next Station, the City Hall MRT where the Singapore Flyer Shuttle is supposed to be making stops every now and then. It started raining cats and dogs and the people I have asked didn’t know where the Singapore Flyer
stop was, until an elderly woman overheard me asking a girl and was able to direct me to the right direction. I’d take the rain as a welcome.
I got to the Flyer but it temporarily stopped operating because of the bad weather so I had to wait. The rain finally gave way to us and I was finally able to ride the flyer. To me, the London Eye looked fancier but the Singapore Flyer as they say is the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. I did enjoy my ride while listening to a recorded guide and was starving afterwards. There were stores and restaurants by the base of the Flyer and I ended up in O’Leary’s Sports Bar and Grill. And yet again, the manager was quite nice and chatted with me for a while, gave ideas about where to go/what to see and asked the usual questions - where I was from, what I was doing in Singapore, why I was alone, etc…etc.
I still had an hour to burn before the Night Safari tour starts so I made another stroll to the nearby Esplanade Mall where I caught a band doing sound check at
The Female Dorm's Double Bunks
Straight ahead ... top bunk ... that was mine ...
the Esplanade Mall grounds. They were actually good and I as able to kill my extra 1 hour in an entertaining way.
The trip from the Singapore Flyer to the Night Safari was more or less 30 minutes. I enjoyed the Safari Tram Ride and seeing Lions and Tigers and Hyenas and all those wild animals because I’ve actually never been to a proper Zoo. The “Creature of the Night Show” which showcases trained animals was also amusing and I was quite entertained by the fire dancers ~ my first time to see a live performance.
Today, I really love Singapore. Everyone was totally nice to me and everybody speaks English … EVERYBODY.
I was totally exhausted after the day. I’m still not used to the hostel scene but I love Sleepy Sam’s. The hostel was fully booked but it didn't feel too crowded at all (or staying at the all-female dorm helped a lot???)
My first day in SG had been LoVeLy! Part II: The best way to see Singapore is on a motorbike
There are more photos below