This is the story of how I cheapskated my way in the Lion City in less than 24hrs.
Some people say that layovers are a drag but the one I had at Singapore for my Jakarta trip last September was a total blast. Taking this trip with me was my older cousin, who was also in desperate need of a break from adulting.
Our connecting flight was an entire day away from our arrival in Singapore so our layover gave us almost an entire day to explore. I’ve always taken direct flights to Indonesia so this prelude to this thriving metropolis was something I thoroughly enjoyed. From what I’ve experienced, this was considerably more pleasant and tolerable than the harrowing layover stories I’ve read online.
Departing from Manila, I noticed that NAIA Terminal 1’s interior has improved a lot since from the last time I’ve seen it. I hope the upgrades and renovations don’t stop there. Now, I have a special place for aviation in my heart and nothing makes me happier than sitting on a plane, taking in the view at cruising altitude and getting giddy on the anticipation of setting foot in a new destination. I’ve got a strong tolerance for the problematic civil aviation and airline industry so it takes more than the usual travel/tourist nuisances to deter my mood.
We flew via TigerAir (my first time with them for an international/regional flight since I’ve always been a Ceb girl) at a very agreeable price, around Php10,000.00 round-trip (MNL-CGK via SG), even in the absence of a seat sale when we booked. It was an early AM flight and the aircraft utilized was an A320 which looked like it had seen better days. I slept almost throughout the flight and finally setting foot at Singapore Changi International was a dream. I’m well aware that there are better aerodromes out there but please humor me when I say that Changi was the best one I have seen so far. I loved their facilities, their friendly and good-natured staff and I would be lying if I didn’t say that their control tower was a sight for sore eyes.The gap between our flights meant that we would be staying overnight in SG and so my cousin decided that we were better off at getting a place in the city than staying at the airport. We didn’t have checked-in luggage so we were both stuck with heavy duffel bags we had no intention of hauling everywhere. After a quick visit to the nearest foreign exchange, purchasing our adorable EZ-Link cards and taking a crash course on the SMRT, we headed straight to the hostel.With its cozy yet sophisticated urban vibe, Green Kiwi Hostel was a hub for different people and cultures. A short trek from Lavender Station, it wasn’t hard to locate at all. The accommodations were sufficient (around the clock AC, free breakfast, wifi and use of their computers), clean and no-nonsense. We shared a perpetually dark room with a bunch of other backpackers, mostly Europeans. The staff, two of whom are Filipino, were friendly and easy-going. We paid around SGD17.00 each for our overnight stay in the mixed 10-person room. We began our aimless wandering traversing Lavender Street, heading to Arab Street. I was amazed with the lack of traffic and how observant the people are of traffic rules and regulations. We gravitated to the sight of Masjid Sultan and the bustle of Kampong Glam with its shops and restaurants. It was already noon so we stopped near Bussorah Street to find a place to eat local fare.
We walked further to Beach Road to check out Golden Mile Food Centre. We didn’t really buy anything there since we we’re still quite full. We just had a look-see and check out what a legit Singaporean hawker really looked like.We’ve basically mastered the train by now. This is us waiting at a random station.Chinese chicken and plum iced tea, bitch.
My cousin wanted to look for the SGD1.00 ice cream vendor she read about online so we just had to go visit Orchard Road. She didn’t know specifically where it was so we walked for awhile before finding the nicest ice cream vendor ever at The Cathay Cineplex.It was totally worth the struggle! Come through strawberry on wafer!!!
Little India was such a unique place, full of vibrant colour and scents. We didn’t find stalls that sold food, maybe we were simply at the wrong street/area but being there made me super excited in the possibility of visiting India in 2017 *fingers crossed*.
I love finding anything matcha or green tea-related.We went back to recharge and recuperate at the hostel. My cousin and I went home to Aklan before this trip so we barely had any rest.After power napping for 1-2hrs and freshening up, we tried out the bus to go to Gardens by the Bay. I’ve had my fair share of buses in Metro Manila but nothing compares to the buses in Pandacan, Manila and after taking the SMRT buses in SG, I feel robbed. Na saan ang hustisya!?We walked around Gardens by the Bay and admired the architecture and the diverse plantlife. The cacti and succulents were my absolute fave. I also couldn’t help admire the Singapore Flyer from afar and since we ran out of time we weren’t able to visit it. We reluctantly parted with the park so we could watch the lights show at SuperTree Grove.Marina Bay Sands was quite a sight to behold. I could not fathom the stuff that went down so that this behemoth could stand here today for us to marvel. I wanted it to beam me upwards into the mothership (it simply game me those kind of feels). It was all kinds of amazing.We walked along Bayfront Avenue and crossed over to Raffles through Helix Bridge so we can walk more and go to Merlion Park. Taking a photo with the famous monument is the quintessential souvenir after Singapore sightseeing so we could not pass that up.Before calling it a night, we stopped by the Esplanade for a late night bite/dinner. We’ve been walking and walking for so long we didn’t notice our hunger if not for the sight and scent of good food. I was quite surprised that one of the stalls here was a Gerry’s Grill!At the end of the day, the most I spent for the layover was maybe Php4500 and since were bereft of time to dig in to the cultural hotspots and other trendy places to visit, there wasn’t much to spend. We did manage to hit up more than enough locations to say that it was worth our while.
We returned to our lodgings at around 11PM. It was late but the city was still teeming with people keen on relishing Singapore’s nightlife. Tired, drained and exhausted from wandering the city, we tucked into our bunk beds amongst our temporary roommates. Sleep was fleeting but the day’s experience was one for the books and I could not wait to come back and stay longer, explore more diligently and bring a heftier budget.