Friday, December 17, 2010

SINGAPORE once more

Singapore is one city I would love to visit over and over again. The only downside is that it is an expensive city, where 1SGD is equivalent to an average of 33 pesos. Nevertheless, the pricey trip did not impede our intention to step on Singapore's soil. This time I was not alone; I brought with me my partner Erick and my college classmates, Dupong and Jacquiline. Our flight booking was made in February 2010, which means that we really saved for this tour. It was in Aug 2010 that we finalize our itinerary with primary tickmark on Marina Bay Sands visit and Universal Studios theme park; in Sept 2010, we made our hotel booking at South East Asia Hotel; and in Oct 2010 we arranged our meetings with friends and relatives who reside in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Day 1, October 30, 2010 (Saturday)

We took the early morning bus ride from Manila to Dau, Pampanga, then transferred to 2 rides on a Philippine jeepney, that is from Dau to SM Clark and from SM Clark to Clark Airport. We even argued with jeepney drivers who used to contract trips to airport at high price. But since we have been to Clark airport once, we convinced them that we know the way. It only cost us P14.00 from P200.00 that they charged to naive tourists.

We expect to touch the ground on time however due to air traffic in Changi Airport in Singapore, we were 1 hour delayed. As soon as I passed the Singapore Immigration, I called South East Asia Hotel to extend our check-in deadline which was supposedly at 5:30pm. One thing that surprised me upon arrival was the new terminal building; the Cebu Pacific flight from Clark arrived at the so-called Budget Terminal. My first visit was via Philippine Airlines was direct to the Changi International Airport. Thankfully, Singapore government provides free bus ride from the said terminal to the nearest MTR (train) station located at the Changi International Airport Terminal 1 and 2. We followed the directions given to us by the SEA Hotel to ride the MRT to Bugis Station.

At the Bugis MTR Station, Erick photographed the vicinity map where to find the SEA hotel. Guided by it we walked two blocks from station towards Aberdeen shop. We checked in hurriedly because we already ran out of time and we were scheduled to meet with my hometown neighbor who worked as a nurse in Singapore. Anneth Tokong, I knew her as Ann Ann Canoy, was scheduled to sponsor our dinner for the night and accompany us in touring around Orchard street (a high street in Singapore in terms of fashion and nightlife). She indeed treated us to a not-so-sumptuous dinner at the Food Republic. It was sort of a classy foodcourt; we took the thai cuisine.

Day 2, October 31, 2010 (Sunday)

I did an early morning tour around the SEA Hotel's vicinity. Actually I was awakened by the clanging of the bell; that was when I realized that a Buddhist temple is behind our room's window. My curiosity of their sunday morning rituals dragged me out. More astonishing was that a Hindu temple stood adjacent to that Buddhist temple. And so I walked more thinking that some more temples lie ahead. True enough, I noticed a Methodist Church one corner away and a Catholic Church opposite to it.

The three of us, Erick, Jackie and I, attended the Sunday Mass at St. Joseph Church, the one I sought when I looked for more temples. After which we headed to Bugis MTR to ride a train to reach the Boat Quay, the Fullerton Hotel, and the Merlion Park. We witnessed a dragon boat racing, crossed the Cavenagh bridge, and captured the statue of children racing to dive the river (it's located at the left side of the Fullerton Hotel's facade). I only saw them in the magazines, because I was not able to venture this part of the city the first time I was here.

We kept on asking Singaporean people where to find the Merlion Park, and when we finally got there I was stunned at the new scenery where Marina Bay Sands rose at my front and the Singapore Flyer at my left side. It wowed me standing at the foot of the giant merlion spitting water to the river. I minded not the crowd but the 360 degree view of the park. So I decided to climbed the Sand's Skypark to see for myself the bird's eyeview of the Singapore city.

But that can wait anyway. We still have more meetings to attend to, first was meeting with Jackie's former officemate that took place at the Suntec Convention Center and Mall. She (I am so sorry I forgot her name) sponsored our lunch served like a luglog in Naga or pancit in Tuguegarao; a big plate of cooked noodles topped with seafoods (shrimps primarily). We roamed around the convention center and threw wishes at the Fountain of Wealth. We waited for Ann Ann and her housemate, Beth, who agreed to accompany us in the afternoon tour.

And so the tour was now directed to Marina Bay Sands. Jackie's friend led the way and instructed a train ride to Orchard Road where the bus-ride to Marina Bay Sands passes. What made it ridiculous however was that the bus we rode also passed the Suntec Convention Center where we have been. Well, all of us were first timers to the Sands Hotel even those working in Singapore, otherwise we simply waited there. We laughed our way as we left the Suntec City the second time around.

Erick's meeting with his cousin Lemuel took place at the Sands Hotel. He or she, whatever you wanna call him/her 'cause he's a transvestite, accompanied us at the queue until we reached the counter where we paid the 20SGD each as entrance fee to the Skypark. Erick and I were left alone for the roofdeck viewing; Jackie opted to stay with the ladies. We savored the grandiosity of Singapore from up the skytowering Sands Hotel. We took moments to feel the air and wind up there; we even peeked at the rooftop swimming pool (which unfortunately is inaccessible to non-check in tourists). The look of the Singapore city below is so beauteous!

We reunited at the Helix Bridge; we were already seven at 7pm. The company composed of Erick, Lemuel, Ann Ann, Beth, Jackie and her friend and me. But the crowd lasted for few minutes only, Jackie and friend has to leave to meet more friends. So the five of us proceeded to dine at the foodcourt of international cuisine beside the Esplanade Mall; once again the dinner was free for Erick and I as it was sponsored by Lemuel, Ann, and Beth. And then Dupong called up announcing his arrival at the Changi Airport. The three of us were supposed to be fetching him but considering the circumstance, I was left alone to pick him up. He bore the inconvenience of waiting for me for a while.
Jackie was already at the Hotel room upon Dupong's check in. We chatted the whole night long when Erick and Lemuel arrived.

Day 3, November 1, 2010 (Monday)

It was All Saints Day and Universal Studio day for us four. Because it was a holiday for us Catholics, we dropped by the St. Andrew’s Cathedral for a church visit. We knew for sure that we can not attend the holy mass at 6pm, so we offered a rosary.

We took pictures of the cathedral before heading to the harbour front where Universal Studio rose. I initially thought of riding the train but the others wanted to try the bus. We checked the directory several times to note the bus number and the fare on our way to Vivo City. Bad luck bit us then as one of us failed to pay the fare and we were fined 20SGD for missing to pay 1.01SGD bus fare. Ugh!

When we analyzed it, I was actually the non-paying passenger. Before climbing up the bus, I turned over to Erick the fare for two without saying a word. I thought he got the message of receiving 2.10SGD. Then later, Jackie cried for help thinking she lost her EZ card. I tried to rescue Jackie's situation grabbing some coins in my hands. As we all climbed the bus, Jackie retrieved the card. So I pocketed back the coins. Erick on the other hand thought that I will pay my own fare since I held coins dropped only 1.10SGD into the box. When the inspector came in, he revealed that one among us did not pay and that we have no other option than pay the 20SGD fine.

The misfortune triggered the heated arguments between Erick and me. But the show must go on despite it. We changed money and took our lunch at the Vivo City Mall. We rode the Sentosa Monorail to Universal Studio after the meal of Hainanese chicken.

A hairspray street production welcomed us. We experienced the Accelerator ride as extras to the shooting. We assumed it was a movie or tv shoot because one young actor and another young actress occupied each a gondola and cameras all around were busy capturing the scenes. We were disappointed to know that the Galactica roller coaster is still unoperational. We then proceeded to the Shrek castle and experienced 4D theater. We tried the dragon ride roller coaster and the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster. It was such a fun to have Dupong riding the roller coasters with us.
We ate our early dinner and proceeded to Sentosa beach station. We were supposed to watch the production The Songs of the Seas but due to bursting tension between Erick and me, we retreated back to the hotel to rest. Lemuel came to the hotel with the box of beers and so we end up drunk before dawn.

We went to Kuala Lumpur the following day. We were back to Singapore the dawn of November 4. We shopped at Bugis Street Shopping Center for souvenirs before heading back to the Airport for an afternoon flight to Clark, Philippines.

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