Fly me to Singapore!
It all started when one of my co-workers happened to see the promo “Piso fare all international destinations, travel period June – December 15, 2012.” To make the story short, we booked the air fare ticket in advanced and we were set to travel July 8 – 12, 2012. And of course, we chose Singapore. The ticket was already cheap at around PhP 2,100.00 back and forth including the hidden charges.
Planning for the trip
First thing to do before the trip is to choose the place where to stay in Singapore. This is very crucial since the Bureau of Immigration will not allow you to fly once you can not present the booking slip of your hotel.
It was a 3 day and 3 night trip. We did not book from any travel agencies and just decided to plan the trip of our own. Booking from a travel agency would mean another budget. We used all our resources and gathered all the information from the internet. Out of the many hotels/inns/hostels that we researched, we decided to stay in a backpacker hostel – ABC Backpackers Hostel located at 3 Jalan Kubor, Singapore – near Bugis Station. We were a group of 5 and we chose to stay in a room of 10 beds. Each bed is $(SG)18 per night. So we could reserve the beds, the hostel required us to pay 50% of the total price. We paid them through Paypal. I printed the Paypal receipt and showed it to the Immigration the time the officer asked us the hotel reservation slip.
From our discussion with the group, we decided to make Universal Studios as the main highlight of our Singapore trip. Since we were already sure of Universal Studios, we booked the whole day entrance ticket prior the trip. The whole day entrance fee is $(SIN)74.00 per adult. We booked through their website www.rwsentosa.com/Attractions/UniversalStudiosSingapore
Also prior to the trip, I was able to borrow an EZLink Card from my office mate which was really helpful. The EZLink Card is a one way ticket to trains and buses in Singapore. If you do not have an EZLink Card, you can buy one at the Changi Station for $(SG)15.00 with $(SG)7.00 free credits. In my case since I was able to borrow card, I only pay $(SG)10.00 to top up the card with $(SG)10 credits.
Another thing to prepare before the trip is your Singapore bucks, I meant Singapore dollars. It is cheaper to convert your pesos to SG$ here in the Philippines than in Singapore.
At the airport
On the day of our flight going to Singapore, we already prepared everything for the trip. We arrived in the airport 2 hours before the departure. This was our first international trip and it was better to be early than sorry. lol At the airport, I prepared my passport and some pesos to pay for the travel tax (around PhP 1,700) and terminal fee (around PhP 500.00).
After we checked in and got our seat number from Cebu Pac, we proceeded to the Immigration counter. I tell you it was a hassle working with the Immigration officer. Together as a group, we were interviewed by an officer at the same. The officer was unfriendly and the way he asked could tell you that he was like judgmental that we could not afford to stay in Singapore. He looked for our IDs. He was not satisfied with our company IDs and so we presented another ID (in my case I presented my new SSS UMID card). The officer was not aware that the SSS ID has a new look (I am referring to the new UMID card). The time he saw our SSS IDs he began to ask “Are you all government employees?”. I was totally irritated with the officer but still I smiled and one of the group simply answered “No we are not.” I could have answered him “Didn’t we just show you our company IDs?” haha After a series of questioning, the Immigration officer did allow us to fly.
Cebu Pacific Air officer then met us and put a check mark beside our names on her list, I guess, to signify that we were allowed by the Immigration. We departed Cebu and arrived in Singapore on time.
It took about 3 hours and 30minutes to fly from Cebu to Singapore. When we landed in Changi Airport and observed the surroundings, I could immediately tell that Singapore is really a developed country. Then I began to ask, do Singaporeans come from India? Well, most of the people I saw at the airport were Indians. Then the Immigration officer at the Changi Budget Terminal who I thought also an Indian examined my passport, observed my face, compared the picture on the passport with my face, then she concluded that my face matched on the passport’s picture so she finally stamped my passport. Yehey!
Changi Budget Terminal is clean. From what I heard, Singapore will be upgrading their budget terminal and make it as Changi Airport Terminal 4. The construction should begin by September 2012.
We arrived in Changi Airport at around 11:30PM and by that time the only mode of transportation are taxis. For me, taxis are expensive and not ideal for budget travelers like me. We needed to save and so we decided to stay at the airport. The budget terminal was not ideal for us to stay for the whole night, the help desk suggested us to stay in Terminal 2. There is a free public bus that transfers from Budget Terminal to Terminal 2.
By 5:30AM, we started our way to our first stop – ABC Backpackers Hostel.
Getting to Know Singapore
I realize that in Singapore the sun rises as early as 8AM and sets at 8PM. Other than that, the weather is same like in the Philippines. You won’t get lost in Singapore, I should say that. The country is tourist friendly. Every corners have signs written in English that will help you where to go. The transportation system in Singapore is the main reason why you can’t get lost. If you are not sure where you are, just ask where the nearest MRT station and from there that should take you to the right place. It is also notable that most of the people in Singapore knows how to speak English.
I can say that people in Singapore are well disciplined. They know where to throw their trashes. I can not see any single garbage scattered on the streets. Also, chewing a bubble gum in public could be punishable by law. It is also not allowed to eat while you are on mobile. So, no eating inside the trains.
Also, I noticed that most of the vehicles are public. Only few are private. The reason behind?
Singapore is a small island with a high population density, the number of private cars on the road is restricted so as to curb pollution and congestion. Car buyers must pay for duties one-and-a-half times the vehicle’s market value and bid for a Singaporean Certificate of Entitlement (COE), which allows the car to run on the road for a decade. The cost of the Singaporean certificate of entitlement alone would buy a Porsche Boxster in the United States. Car prices are generally significantly higher in Singapore than in other English-speaking countries and thus only one in 10 residents owns a car. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore
Because of that, most people travel by foot. I have experienced myself walking tediously while we were there. Another thing, buses have designated area where to stop and take passengers. Basically, people have to walk from where he is at to the bus stop area.
Singaporeans I believe are mixed races of Indians, Malaysians and Chinese. I do not know how but that is just based from what I saw.
Foods in Singapore are mostly Chinese, you know – ramen, noodles and the like. I was able to order a beef wanton spicy noodle with curry and I dislike it. It would be hard for an ordinary Filipino to adjust their taste buds in eating Singaporean foods. Well, one thing I like is the Chili Crab. I recommend eating a Chili Crab if you plan to go there. You can buy your meals at $(SG)4 to $(SG)15. Cheaper meals are usually housed in a place called hawker.
First time in my life I encountered a 24 x 7 shopping center and that is in Mustafa Centre. The items available are cheaper compared to other malls in Singapore. I am not sure if that is true but that is what my friends told me. So we bought our souvenirs and pasalubongs in Mustafa. I bought a handful of chocolates for a total of $(SG)30. Not bad.
Singapore is also environment friendly. The newly opened Gardens by the Bay is just so marvelous. The park is an initiative by the Singapore government to transform Singapore from Garden City to City in a Garden. The place is just a wow.
I guess that is all for now. I will continue to blog about the interesting places we visited in Singapore on my next entry. Thank you for reading.