A couple of weeks ago, Bernard and I stayed in Singapore for 3 days, 2 nights. Extremely short, yes, and I’m raring to go back again soon because I simply can’t get enough of it. In the meantime, let me recall the 6 lessons I learned from the experience:
1. You’ll never get lost in Singapore.
My father used to tell me that Singapore is just like Mactan Island: it’s small. I really don’t know since we spent most of our time walking. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, though, it’s the fact you’ll never get lost in the country as long as you know how to read the map. There are maps everywhere, especially in their bus stops and train stations.
If you’re trying to board the train, stay within the red line. The center (marked green) is meant for disembarking passengers. And see the closed doors? It opens only when the train has come to a full stop.
The country’s transportation is simply tops. Until now I couldn’t wrap my head over the idea behind the system. How did these guys do it? Like, seriously? Because their buses and trains are already effective, you can avoid riding their taxis, which are extremely expensive.
2. Singapore is food.
If you’ve been reading about Singapore, then you know that it has a lot of hawker centers. It’s like our malls’ food courts. The only difference is that there are hundreds of them gathered in one humungous floor. Let’s not forget too they also have food stalls in a lot of their streets. Simply put, you’ll never go hungry if you’re in SG. For a dollar or two, you can already get yourself a bowl of piping-hot noodles. Their Hainanese Chicken Rice, which Bernard can’t simply forget, is only $4. The ice cream sandwich costs $1.
Hainanese Chicken Rice: A certified must-try
The husband’s favorite: ice cream sandwich for only a dollar
French toast with kaya spread for me, kopi for him.
3. Their airport is an attraction.
The train that takes you to any Changi Airport terminal.
The entire trip is fun, but I experienced my greatest enjoyment when I was at the airport. Being there definitely confirms what others have been telling me: it’s the best airport in the world. Heck, I could spend my entire day in there, and I’ll never run out of things to do. There are murals, exhibits, gardens, galleries, restaurants, even a hawker center, free Internet, free massage, free movie, free Xbox, a prayer room, shopping centers, a train that brings you to other terminals at zero cost, cafes, chocolates, free calls, post offices, free spa, swimming pool–the list goes on and on. We even found a couple who did their grocery there!
4. You don’t have to pay a lot to see Singapore.
My brother frowned upon my decision not to go to Sentosa, as that would mean spending a lot of money for entrance fees. But he should understand that we were traveling on a budget, meager at that. No regrets whatsoever because I loved my experience in every free place I’ve been to.
One of the best free tours is a walk around Chinatown.
5. It’s a fine city indeed.
One of the many signs you’ll see in the city.
Singapore is a fine city, and they’re actually proud of it. It truly keeps their people on their toes at all times. But how much are they going to charge you just in case you “forget the rules”? A lot! Perhaps you would even beg to be sent to jail for a few days rather than be ordered to pay the fine. Case in point: touching their emergency button means a fine of $5,000 or more than 160,000 pesos! They’d even fine you if you eat and drink (even if it’s water) while inside the train. That basically explains why you can hardly see stores hawking food in any of their terminals.
6. Always keep left.
I am very much used to Cebu’s somewhat laid-back lifestyle that I completely forgot what a lot of my friends had told me: people in SG are always busy and on the run. So if you ever find yourself in the country and you believe you’re not pressed for time, then be gracious enough to always stay on the left.