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Uniquely Singapore: The Marina Bay and Merlion (Day 1)

This is the day we’ve all been waiting for. After a month of preparations, we are now bound to Singapore. I can’t utterly express how happy I am to finally be able to leave the country even just for a while. It has been my dream to venture to new places and experience a different culture than mine. I have never thought that this fancy will be fulfilled early this year.

My preparations just to get to this small city state were rather frantic. As you all know, my ticket was booked even if I don’t have a passport on hand. Therefore, my excitement was restrained. It was 2 days before my flight when my passport was delivered. You don’t know how ecstatic I was after receiving that book. I immediately took a picture and posted it in my Facebook account. This is the only time I sensed that I am finally leaving.

After an exhausting day with Apple (also bound to SG for job hunting), I went straight to Caloocan. It was around 10 in the evening when I got there. I am supposed to take a nap to boost my energy for a long plane trip but anticipation spoiled it. Ton called to make sure that we’re all packed up and gave his last minute directives. At 1 am, we rode a cab on our way to NAIA Terminal 1. The exhilaration builds up twice.

Around 2:30, we arrived at the airport. It wasn’t our first time but we had a bit of confusion before we finally checked in. In every queue, it’s my ass on the line. Tia Baby made me sure that everything will go smoothly come their turn. Very cool! I felt more primed than anxious though. Ton once again called to make sure that we’re checked in on time.

The gate opened at around 4:00 am. We were greeted merrily in their accent “gudmonin!” as we board the plane. The cabin crew and captain were so accommodating and gracious. Because of this and numerous other details about my experience on JetStar Airways, I would highly recommend them to anyone interested in traveling to Asian countries.

During pre-board briefing by several of the cabin crew, Kai and I already started to look for magazines to keep. =) To our utter delight, we found several. One more thing I noticed, the seats are too comfy to give us unruffled 3 and a half hours of flight. For any of you who know me well, you can imagine how hard it is for me to sleep in a chair; well it was not the case here. The two of us were soundly asleep. Should it be three? Well, Tia Baby (due to cozy feel and sleepless nights) kept on snoring. Peace out, Ma!

Dreaming throughout the flight, we failed to get the forms needed for immigration talk. About 10 minutes before we landed, the girls started to do “retouch”. You know what I mean! Kai is such a shutterbug. Soon as she wakes up, she took her cam and snapped shots. A cabin member noticed Tia Baby’s bag on her lap and commanded her “Put yo bag anda da seat” (I don’t mean to make fun of her. I just love the accent). Tia Baby responds with a radiant smile (no sarcasms). We all have our (hand carried) bags under our seats because it’s easier to disembark. The plane arrived at Changi Airport at around 7:45 am.

One thing that impressed me of this visit to Singapore was their exceptionally clean, green and organized airport. They say that a good airport reflects on how organized the tourist destination is and I definitely agree having Changi Airport as a perfect example.

As we wander around the airport, we were drawn to the colorful landscapes of nature trails and sophisticated interior designs. We never stopped taking pictures to drain our cams. True enough, your arrival in Changi Airport is more than just a passenger’s pit stop; it’s a perfect reflection of what Singapore has to offer to its visitors.

We never got lost but it took us less than an hour to check-out leaving Ton waiting at the arrival area clueless as to why we’re still out of sight considering all passengers got off. We finally met him around 8:30. Words cannot sate how elated we were to eventually see each other in a diverse land. It was all smiles and repressed tears of joy.

Bolt from the blue, Ton handed us white envelopes containing all tourist information booklets, breakfast meal AND tickets of ALL infamous tourist spots around the country! And not just that, he seized our entire luggage and clutched it with him all throughout the course of our trip to the hostel. I’ve been trying to steal mine from him but to no avail. The three of us were flabbergasted!

On our way to The Hive Hostel, he let us experience the MRT and bus ride instead of a cab. It was entertaining despite the fact that we have it here. Maybe it’s more of a “first time” feel.

While on trip, Ton guides us while exploring the sights outside the train. We reached the hostel in 30 minutes.

When we arrived at the hostel, Ton managed to book us ahead for 6 days stay at a flat rate good for 2 persons. Isn’t he amazing? After we checked-in, he handed us a phone (SingTel) to be certain that communication won’t be a catch while we’re apart. He then left us for work around 10:00 am. (Yes! He’s late!). A couple of hours passed then he brought us lunch, much to our surprise. How thoughtful he is! This is our first taste of Singapore’s chicken, roasted-duck and “lechon-kawali” topped rice. And how can we ever dismiss the tang of apple and aloe-vera juice! We are so into it!

At night, we were picked up around 8:00 pm and head straight to Clarke Quay to visit Singapore’s famous arts venue – Esplanade. At first I thought that it’s an oversized brassiere (kidding!). It’s a dome-shaped Durian-inspired roof at the waterfront overlooking Marina Bay. The crafts inside are fascinating as some of them are treasured for ages.

Then we crossed a bridge leading us to Merlion Park. As expected, there were a lot of tourists there having their shot. Finally, after 25 years, I was able to meet and greet Merlion, the national symbol (emblem). Pardon our fascination but we took pictures of every single angle of this statue.

Next stop was the Fullerton Hotel. We were quite hesitant to go inside as we’re all wearing sandals and slippers. Adding up to it, we haven’t changed clothes since we arrived. In spite of this, we’ve all decided to go-see the interior of this grand architecture (after all we have Ton along). Our senses were overwhelmed as we went underground towards the entrance. The interiors were sophisticatedly crafted. And the rest room, I could brag, is the best I’ve seen so far! We left the building promptly to save time for our next stop. Honestly, we’re quite anxious to be kicked out. =)

We then wandered around Raffles just before having dinner at the local’s favorite food center “Lau Pa Sat”.

We were supposed to eat “satay” but weren’t convinced much (pricy) so we settled for their authentic fried rice toppings.

Moreover, while eating, the live band started to play with some good danceable music. In the middle of the conversation, a fellow kababayan, Erba Balbalosa (my HS classmate) greeted us. It’s an ambush! Who would have thought that after a decade, this is the place to where we’d all meet.

Then after, a feebly feeling of fatigue, we decided to go call it a night. We tried to catch a limousine taxi, but to no avail. Haha … only now did I notice that it’s a right-hand drive here.

Arrived at the hostel at 12 midnight, and then slept at 3 in the morning!

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