Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Singapore Once More


It was three years ago when I first stepped into the country that prohibits chewing gums. That time, I felt nothing but a cold and heartless city that watches your every move, making sure you get penalized if you committed any form of crime, like picking flowers. This time around, I found the warmth of Singapore that I never thought it had. Truly, one visit is not enough to fully experience the essence of a certain place.

Singapore Travel Guide
Singapore's skyline viewed from the National Museum of Singapore's rooftop bar
Singapore was the last stop on our Beach Hop Asia 2016 two-month summer backpacking trip. After frolicking in the tropical sun of Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Maldives, me and my buddy intended to have our last stop in Singapore. The reason? To meet up with some friends who were based there.

Singapore Travel Guide
Concrete jungle
We wanted to give Singapore another try. We weren’t together when we first explored the country but our first impressions were the same, it was cold and lifeless. Although I enjoyed my first visit to Singapore, I had this feeling that the place was nothing but a concrete jungle filled with people who are always on the rush. The only place I felt relaxing then was my visit at MacRitchie Reservoir Park.

Singapore Travel Guide
Singapore's nightscape
On this particular trip, we met up with some friends and discovered what we missed before; unlearning what we thought we knew and started to appreciate Singapore more.

Cactus Land

My mom asked me to go to a certain place and buy some cactuses to add to her growing collection. She gave an exact location through GPS (I didn’t know she can be this techie). My buddy found a way to get there through the MRT and then another local bus. We found ourselves in the middle of a road and just figured out where the plant shops were.

To cut it short, we ended up on a flowering plant garden, with no cactuses in sight. We were then directed to other shops but failed once more. We walked further and then saw a lady who was tending a small garden. We asked her if she got some cactuses and then she said that everything on her shop is a private collection. She then allowed us to enter and was amazed on the vast collection she had.

We had a mini tour as she explained to us where she got each piece and other stuff. We graciously asked her if she could spare some for me to buy, after I explained that it was for my mom, she gladly chose the ones she could sell and I was more than happy. She gave us some cold teas afterwards and even let us hitch all the way to the next bus stop; such a kind soul.

Marina Bay

Staying at Beary Best Hostel, it was an ease roaming around the city as the nearest train stop was just across the road. My buddy was interested in seeing the giant trees that glows at night, I had no clue on what he was talking about at that time. 

Singapore Travel Guide
The famous Marina Bay Sands Resort
We passed by Marina Bay Sands Resort and then walked towards the Gardens by the Bay. It was almost sundown and the solar-powered supertrees started to glow. I found a spot where I lied on my back and enjoyed the view from there. The interchanging colors of the lights accompanied by chill music were fascinating and relaxing at the same time.

Singapore Travel Guide
The solar-powered supertrees glows at night

Tracing our steps back to where we began, we found the Helix Bridge. The funky-looking bridge was our gateway to the Merlion Park and watched the nightscape from there. It was beautiful as the structures glowed in the night sky, just like in Hong Kong.

Singapore Travel Guide
The Helix Bridge at night

Singapore Travel Guide
Singapore's icon
National Museum of Singapore

The next day, we met up with two of our Singapore-based friends (Ron and Rodel) for a day of cultured experience, as they call it. We went to the National Museum of Singapore for a day of history and culture (SGD15 entrance fee per person). We first joined a free group tour where we understood how the museum came to be and the history of the building itself, and then roamed around on our own.

Singapore Travel Guide
The old City Hall and former Supre Court buildings were joined by glass and metal reinforcements
Singapore Travel Guide
Beyond Declarations and Dreams exhibition showcases Filipino works
Exhibited on the galleries were artworks of some renowned Filipino artists (Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo, to name a few). There was also an ongoing special exhibition on some works of Picasso and Matisse. We chilled on the rooftop bar, had a few drinks, and enjoyed the view from there. We then decided to head for an all-nighter along the bay.

Singapore Travel Guide
Famous works of Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Juan Luna and Fernando Amorsolo (to name a few)
are featured on a special section for modern art in Southeast Asia.
Singapore Travel Guide
Pablo Picasso's work on an special exhibition
We then went to HarbourFront to cap the night off. Stories of travel, dreams and whatnots were exchanged as we chugged mugs and mugs of Tiger Beer. It was so fun to catch up with friends.

Singapore Travel Guide
We passed by on this old bridge, retracing Jose Rizal's steps when he was in Singapore.
Singapore Travel Guide
Sundown
Chinatown

We woke up earlier than usual and explored the neighborhood of Chinatown. We went to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, passed by a Hindu temple and then checked out the morning goings-on at the rows of shophouses around.

Singapore Travel Guide
Sri Mariamman Temple

Singapore Travel Guide
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Singapore Travel Guide
Early morning stroll in Chinatown

Sentosa

On our last day, we headed to the famed Sentosa Island. No, we’re not after the theme park, we just wanna chill out on the beach.

We found Palawan Beach (well, not the same as the Palawan we have in the Philippines) and noticed the almost deserted beach if not for a few who were swimming and some who were having picnics by the shore. A far cry from the crowded Universal Studios we passed along a few minutes back.

Singapore Travel Guide
Palawan Beach, Sentosa Island
I dunno why but I didn’t have the urge to even take a dip. May be it was because of the quality of the water or probably we were beached-out at that time (blame it on our two months' worth of beach frolicking). What we did instead was to buy some beer on a nearby store and then lounged by the beach.

I got the buzz early on and grooved with the music that echoed throughout the area. It was totally the coolest way to cap off not just the Singapore leg of our trip but our two-month backpacking trip.

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It was may be that I was with my favorite travel buddy that I regarded this second visit a better one. Or maybe the endless chitchats while we visited a museum and park with some old chummies added life into what I thought was a life size model of a progressive country. Or maybe, I miss the Philippines that’s why I’m longing for warmth and found it easily as I try to connect the similarities of the lives they have there. Or probably, Singapore is a friendly country, period.  


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