Monday, September 19, 2016

Singapore Travel 101

Fig. 1: at Merlion Park (Merlion under construction because of its upcoming 51st birthday)

Singapore, Singapore. After traveling within some areas of the Philippines, I've had numerous chances of meeting people of all sorts. Among these were female solo travelers. Yes, you've read it right: FEMALE solo travelers. I've never underestimated women, however, it is a reality that the world can be so much abusive of us-as if there's no safe place left anymore. I was in awe having the chances to speak with them. I've always wondered, "Can I make the cut? Can I do that too?"

I've been traveling domestically lately, sleeping on hammocks, yoga mats, or when there's no choice-floors. I've been on several motorcycles, bicycles, boats, even bare foot when traveling. Been on sleepless nights, bumpy rides, budget trips, and the list goes on. BUT, there's a big but- it was at the comfort of my own home country. It will always be FUN in the Philippines and that's a F-A-C-T. And so, I tried to challenge myself and schedule a trip outside the country.

Since I was a hundred percent clueless, I've asked assistance from a backpacking group named DLC Backpackers. They were very much responsive with all my queries and they really tried their best to share the best tips for backpacking. They booked my flight and made my dream come true to cross the boarder of Singapore and Malaysia. They gave me the best freebies too!  It was supposed to be last May, as a birthday gift to myself, however, some adjustments were made. Moving on, July came fast and voila! My backpacking journey began.

*** in case you need their contact number:
DLC Backpackers:
+63 917 858 7474


DISCLAIMER: If you're looking for a blog that has tons of itineraries, you're at the wrong page. But if you're into making your SG vacation memorable, we can go ahead and get a cup of tea afterwards.


 Okay. So let's stop the fancy talk and start discussing.

You won't get those butterflies in your stomach until you reach Changi Airport. Just in case you need to know, the flight duration was 3 hours and 45 minutes (of course, this est air time can change due to different conditions.) And once you've stepped out of the plane, you'd really say "Hello, Singapore!" And with that, let's start sharing tips for you to seize the moments!

1.) Arrival
You'll be submitting your disembarkation card to the Immigration. They'll scan your passport too. Once they give these back, keep your card. It's going to cause you trouble if you lose it.


Fig. 2: Disembarkation Card (image source: http://bit.ly/2cCkvjD)







Fig. 3: Never forget your cash!
2.) Currency
Rates changes time to time. 1 SGD to PHP ranges from P34-36. In case you forgot to have your cash exchanged before leaving NAIA, money changers are open at Changi Airport 24/7.


3.) Sim Card
One fatal mistake I did was not bringing an extra phone! Mine was from Japan, and it wasn't an open line one. Having a sim card gives you 24/7 net access (though some areas in SG have free access to Wifi) and of course, makes you connected to your loved ones. You'll definitely need this if you have to use Uber or Grab! (Some networks offer wide coverage including Malaysia and countries nearby. So if you're going to cross boarders, this is a good deal!)

4.) Be prepared
Being 'prepared' doesn't mean bringing your whole house. But it pays bringing a folder or portfolio with print outs of documents. And when I say documents, these include and are not limited to:
* Itineraries 
* Maps
* Hotel Reservations
* Plane Tickets
* Bus Ticket (if crossing boarders)
* Guide

For Singapore Guide print outs, I recommend  www.asiawebdirect.com (Thanks to DLC Backpackers CEO Trishie Dela Cruz for sharing this)

 5.) Be wise
And I'm talking about being wise in general- street smart, resourceful, has plans A-Z, has strategies.

Keep in mind that you should never ignore reading your print outs and system maps. Trust me, my system map became my best friend. Even the map displays on waiting sheds? READ THEM.

6.) Navigation
Honestly, I only planned going to Somerset skate park and Marina Bay. I had no other intentions. However, Singapore is too hard to resist. Since I've always been a fan of maps, it was easy for me to explore the area. It was never a task. I sat down for a few minutes, studied the system map and calculated my time.

Since I had no 24/7 net access, I had to load my GPS even before walking. Yep, you've read it right. You can open your Google Maps and it will gather information. Don't exit completely-you can minimize it or switch apps but don't cancel it. Even if your net is down, you're still on track. You'd know where you are. This is just for tracking purposes-from points A-Z. But if your goal is to have directions from a specific place to another, it won't work because you have to refresh your connection-which you don't have if you're not connected to the Internet.

Fig. 4: Some of the places I visited during my short stay


Get your Singapore Tourist Pass. YES, please! I'm glad I knew about this even before landing SG. This will save you bucks if you have itchy feet like me. If you're unpredictable, likes exploring a lot, never gets tired of seeing new places, this is your second best friend.


If you want to know more about what the SG Tourist Pass can offer, you can visit: https://www.thesingaporetouristpass.com.sg/ 

7.) Food and Drinks
Fig. 5: Street food at its finest
Save some bucks, go L-O-C-A-L! For a few dollars, you can eat good foooooood already or have some refreshments. Drop by Bugis and enjoy cheap food and drinks (plus pasalubong, ehem.) Just in case you'll be asking about their cuisine, all I can say is they have a diverse one! A blend of  Chinese, Indonesian, Malay and of course, Western! Go to hawker centers and you'll have a gastronomic experience! Don't forget to try their Laksa, Curry, Satay, Bak Kut Teh and Chili Crab!

Buying bottled water? Know that they're a bit, well, pricey.

Fast food? They've got KFC, McDonald's, etc.- but don't expect rice. If you crave for rice, go to hawkers. (I promise you, their Hainanese rice tastes like heaven)

8.) Checking In
If you won't be Couchsurfing, I recommend you trying backpacker hostels. These are like dormitory types-only be knowledgeable that these are mixed: men and women. NO sharing of beds, of course. However, you share rooms. You sleep on double-deck beds, but remember, sleeping isn't your priority when traveling, right? So if you just need a place to snooze off for a few zzzs, this is the best option.

Fig. 6: Essentials you should never leave and forget
Picky? Since hotels are expensive, try booking in advance. Lifesavers such as agoda.com and booking.com can help you. Feeling cozy sharing space in houses or apartments? Try Air BnB!


9.) Essentials
Never forget your essentials. If ever you'll be leaving your bags behind and will be strolling, going out for night life, shopping, or ANY activity-NEVER leave your Passport, Immigration/Disembarkation Card, and your pass. Better safe than sorry. 

And oh, should I add? Don't forget your power bank/s, cameras, wallet, and whatever you need to maximize your experience. 


Fig. 7: Once known strangers, now friends!

10.) Share a smile, win a friend
We all know that a lot of Filipinos work abroad. In Singapore, you'll bump into thousands of OFWs. And if you can, have some conversation with them. They're miles away from their homes and for sure, they're missing their loved ones. Spending some time with them won't hurt. After all, traveling is about touching people's lives, isn't it?



I know this isn't your picture-bombarded or itinerary-bombarded blog post. I believe that things will be more special if you experience it on your own. Knowing thyself-your limits and capabilities- and embracing them will be the best gifts traveling can offer you. You'd be losing a few bucks, but you'll get surprised of what you can do and how much it can impact your life. Especially to the women out there, having doubts, fearing exploring the world-GO OUT and have some fun! Let the wind touch your face, let your hair loose, and enjoy life! Happy traveling! ***