Sweet Escape to Singapore

After a good 5 years, I accidentally got back in Singapore last August. It was not part of my travel plans since I still have other places to explore. However, given our situation, I am now required to visit Singapore, at least every other month (you’ll do anything for love, right?)

Singapore is the epitome of a modern, sophisticated, and chic city. No wonder why this city is one of the world’s most expensive city to live at. So what’s the difference now after 6 years? I used to stay in Choa Chu Kang, nearby Woodlands (your gateway to Malaysia), and this time, we’re staying in Telok Blangah, nearby Harbourfront (just a few thousand steps to Sentosa). Before, I came to visit for leisure, this time I come to visit for love. Before, I’d be taking trains and cabs more often, but now, I got to memorize which bus number should I be riding, and if it’s past midnight, we take the Grab (Hello South East Asia!) We got to explore more places, and even the less tourist-y side.

Arrival in Singapore

I remember, back then we didn’t arrive in Terminal 4, because terminal 4 is relatively new. I still consider Changi Airport as my best airport in the world (Yes, I got to see a bunch already, and Changi boasts world class!)

Transportation

6 years ago, Grab app was not an option. It’s either you take the bus, train or your regular taxi. Whenever I arrive, I choose to take the Grab for convenience. It’s too hassle to move around carrying 2 luggage and I need to transfer from train to bus. If I take the bus or train, I use the EZ-link MRT card. You can buy this at train stations for SGD 10, pre-loaded already. It’s a stored value MRT card, and I just reload it every time it gets below minimum. I also suggest that you download the Citymapper app. It helps you plan your travel, and the timings are very accurate. It also works offline. Just in case, you no longer have an internet connection, the app will remind you when you need to alight the bus or train, make sure to set point A to point B. However, if you are with senior citizens or babies, it’s best to take Grab.

Wi-fi Connection

Free wi-fi is almost everywhere, especially in tourist-y areas.

Attractions

  • Merlion Park– You’ll surely meet and greet with the symbol of Singapore. Just a few months back, the Merlion went to a restoration, but now it’s open again for public viewing. Aside from the Merlion, you get a view of Marina Bay Sands, ArtScience Museum, and the Singapore Flyer. (Free)
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    Merlion, Symbol of Singapore

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  • Haji Lane– Located in the Kampong Glam District, you’ll see a lane of artsy fartsy cafes filled with murals and graffiti. The area gives you a very chill atmosphere. (Free)20180901_173623-01[1]20180901_173823-01[1]20190208_150645-02[1]DSC01092-01[1]DSC01080-01[1]DSC01088-01[1]

 

  • Masjid Sultan– Also located in Kampong Glam, this mosque is an important focal point for Muslims in Singapore. You can enter inside the mosque, and their staff will lend you an abaya or a robe, if you’re non-Muslim. After visiting the mosque, you can stroll in nearby Arab St. and Baghdad, and you’ll find a bunch of Mediterranean restaurants, as well as stores that sell goodies from Middle East. (Free)20190208_152104-01[1]20190208_152116-01[1]20180901_174516-01[1]

 

  • Universal Studios Singapore– I’ve been here before, but I went back here around last week of September. Just in time for the opening of Halloween Horror Nights. They have set-up at least 5 horror/haunted houses, with different themes. For 2018, one of their houses featured a Netflix series, which is the Stranger Things. We were in the line for about 2 hours! For the rest of the houses, the line was pretty fast moving. The other haunted houses include Killuminati, The House of Oiwa, Pontianak, and Pagoda of Peril. Zombies were around too, especially in the areas of Apocalypse Earth and Cannibal Blood and Bones. Apart from the Halloween special at USS, we were able to ride also the Revenge of the Mummy and Transformers: The Ride 3D, without having to line up. (SGD 58- Gen. Ad. Non-Peak)
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  • S.E.A. Aquarium & Maritime Experiential Museum– The aquarium in Sentosa Island is home to various sea species. Surprisingly, the place was packed with tourists even if it was a weekday. For the museum, it featured the expeditions or explorations that passed through Singapore in the old days. (SGD 40) 20190207_150501-01[1]

 

  • Skyline Luge and Skyride– This is one of the thrilling  activities offered in Sentosa Island. We availed for the 2 luge and skyrides combo (SGD 24)LUSGAACD97H123043_1809271030564-pre-01[1]20180927_145900-01[1]

 

  • Singapore Cable Car– We took a one way ride from Merlion Station going to Harbourfront (SGD 15)20190207_192518-01[1]View from the cable car

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  • ArtScience Museum– This is the iconic landmark that you can see near Marina Bay Sands. It houses different exhibits. During our visit, we gaze upon Future World and Minimalism. (SGD 27- We got the local’s rate)20181129_162420-01[1]Screenshot_20190601-043619_Instagram-01[1]Screenshot_20190601-043628_Instagram-01[1]Screenshot_20190601-044202_Drive-01[1]

 

  • Garden’s by the Bay– If garden, plants and flowers are your thing, then this should not be missed. The place is beautifully curated. We got a chance to see the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. (SGD 18- We got the local’s rate)0101-2019-1029346117797925268244-01[1]20190206_171617-01[1]20190206_171801-01[1]20190206_175542-01[1]DSC01195-01[1]DSC01197-01[1]

 

  • National Museum of Singapore– We had a chance to visit during a holiday, and surprisingly, it’s free. It features different eras of Singapore which includes pop culture, religion, history, etc. (FREE- it was a holiday when we visited) DSC01174-01[1]DSC01178-01[1]DSC01175-01[1]DSC01179-01[1]20190206_131320-01[1]

 

  • Marina Bay Carnival– This carnival was up for a few months beside Marina Bay Mall. It’s your typical carnival wherein you have the game booths and ride or die kind of ride. (FREE  if you’ll just go around and not take any ride or play in the booths)20190213_184252-01[1]20190213_193915-01[1]20190213_194207-01[1]

 

  • Telok Blangah Hill Park– It has a nice trail wherein you can walk or jog at whatever time of the day. It leads all the way to Mt. Faber through a suspension bridge. (FREE) 20180927_113538-01[1]20180927_115445-01[1]20180927_121405-01[1]

 

  • Chinatown– Never miss a Chinatown in every country that you visit. The place is very festive, and colorful. You can bargain for the things that you wanna buy. (FREE) 20190208_104222-01[1]20190208_121535-01[1]20190208_121632-01[1]

 

MALLS, CAFES, RESTAURANTS

  • Jewel Changi– This is a newly opened mall just across Terminal 1. Apart from boutiques and stores, it has also a nice architecture, which includes an indoor waterfall.20190426_210659-02[1]

 

  • Selfie Coffee Cafe– Passed by this unique cafe along Haji Lane. Your selfie will be on top of your coffee.20180901_163826-01[1]20190208_142128-01[1]

 

  • Hawkers– Every corner seems to have a hawker. Price varies depending if it’s a touristy side or not. It serves all kinds of local favorites. My faves, however, are Newton ,Chinatown and the one in Geylang. 20190206_150315-01[1]20190206_150321-01[1]20190206_150511-01[1]20190208_112337-01[1]20190207_114146-02[1]

 

  • IMM Mall (in Jurong East), Changi Point– If you’re into outlets, don’t forget to pass by these malls. If you have spent a minimum SGD 100 in a single receipt, you are entitled for a tax refund (applies to tourists only)

 

  • Toastbox– I’ve been a Toastbox girl ever since. Never miss this one, for that Singaporean vibe without going to a hawker. 20190206_110917-01[1]

 

  • IKEA– Since we do not have this in Manila, it’s like a haven for our furniture and home shopping needs.

 

  • Central Perk Cafe– If you’ve been watching FRIENDS, then this is a must see. It recreated the set of the series. It’s located near Clarke Quay. Prices can be a little over than average.20180924_195229-01[1]20180924_200432-01[1]

 

  • Bugis Junction, Mustafa (Little India), Fire Sale Grocery– For your souvenirs and pasalubongs, you gotta give this a visit. It sells the cheapest yet quality items.

Since I will be frequent in Singapore, I’ll make another entry sometime soon to share another side of Singapore.

 

Overnight in Thailand

Bangkok may be known for spicy Thai food, temples, lady boys, and shopping. The latter, for me, is the most attractive, and that made me flew to Bangkok on a short notice.

Bangkok, Thailand in a glimpse of 1 day and 1 night. (04.29.16-04.30.16)

Everything was planned and booked last minute, but surprisingly it was not that expensive. It was my first time to try the Airbnb app. It’s an app that could let you choose your accommodation depending on your budget and preference. After browsing through different accommodations, I found a hostel fit for my preference. It is not in downtown Bangkok. However, it’s just a few minutes away from Chatuchak, the shopping destination. Our hostel is at PHP 793 per night plus a surcharge of PHP 94. It includes twin beds with toiletries and complimentary water and noodles. The front desk officer was very accommodating, and can speak good English.

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Room @ VIPA Hotel

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Our hostel from outside

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Hostel’s lobby

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Twin beds in a fairly nice room for only PHP 793 per night

I have searched online for the different tour packages available, and I found my most preferred through Royal Exclusive Travel. The package includes pick-up and drop-off from your hotel (hotels must be in downtown Bangkok or if you’re hotel is not within the area, like in our case, we had Asia Bangkok Hotel as our meeting place), elephant ride and floating market tour in Damnoen Saduak, English-speaking tour guide and a complimentary drinking water. You can book this tour at http://www.asia-discovery.com

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Waiting four group tour at Asia Bangkok Hotel

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Day 1- 04.29.16

We took the red eye flight MNL-BKK, and arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport at midnight. Since our hostel is 20 minutes away from BKK airport, we had no choice, but to take a cab. We rested for a few hours before we prepared for our tour.

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Another check on my bucket list: to ride an elephant

  • Elephant Village

It took an hour and a half before we have reached the elephant village at Damnoen Saduak. After a short briefing, we had our turns to ride the elephant and tour the forest. The “elephant driver” offered some souvenirs after our ride. Each souvenir costs around THB 150-300. It was my first time to ride an elephant, and it was an item to mark-off on my bucket list.

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While waiting for our turn to ride the elephant

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Forest bound

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Not your typical ride

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A view of the forest and wild monkeys from the elephant’s perspective

  • Floating Market

A few minutes away from the Elephant Village is the famous Venice of the East, the Floating Market. You take a canoe around the area and you can shop from a variety of Thai products. You can even ask for a discount especially if you’re buying bulk items.

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Bathroom break before we continue our journey

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A Thai local in their daily work

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Different items for sale

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Feel free to haggle when buying

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Souvenir items for sale

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Blending in with the tourists

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Plenty of tourists around

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After our tour, we were dropped off in downtown Bangkok. We were figuring out how to take the train, but there was no English translation and nobody speaks English. We were left with just one option, and that is to take the cab going to our hostel. Before we left, we walk along the streets and we found some local delicacies, and we gave it a try. We also passed by a stall that sells an authentic Thai milk tea.

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Authentic Thai milk tea & the ivory bracelet bought from the elephant driver

When we got into our hotel, we rest again for a bit, then went out to look for a temple. There is a Buddhist temple a few streets away from our hostel, and we paid a visit, because we could no longer visit the famous temples due to time constraint.

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A Buddhist temple we found near our hostel

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Light a candle, say a prayer and let it flow

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Or you may write down your prayers and hang it on the tree

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After a tiring and productive day, we got very hungry. There is a restaurant at the lobby of our hostel, and they serve authentic Thai food. I know that most of the Thai food are spicy, so I ordered for a mild spicy food. To my surprise, it is still very spicy, and to my friend who happens to love spicy food gave up too.

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Spicy bacon and rice

My friend needed to leave early, because she booked the wrong date of her flight, and I was left alone to do all the shopping. As a token of appreciation for my friend who came along even if unprepared, I bought her a passport holder.

  • JJ Market

Have you heard of shopaholics flocking Thailand to hoard items for business or personal use? Yes, it’s true that they sell quality stuff for a very low price. In fact, I tried to compare them with our very own Greenhills Shopping Center. They sell almost the same things but there is a big difference in the price.

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JJ Night Market

The front desk officer told me about this place beside Chatuchak. According to her, there is a night market every weekend that are preferred to be visited by the younger people. I checked it out, and it was indeed catered for the younger people. I started shopping at 7pm, and I ended at midnight, and got home with shopping bags on both hands.

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Passport holders

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How they customize it

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Shoes

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Find your stuff

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Day 2- 04.30.16

I was supposed to have the whole day for shopping, and taking the red eye flight going back to Manila. However, I realized that I have an early morning duty the next day, and I need to rest. As a result, I took the midday flight going home. Before my trip ends, there’s another side story I have to share. The night before I left for JJ Market, I told the front desk officer on duty that I’ll be checking out the next day at 7pm. I changed my mind and took the earlier flight instead, so I needed to leave the hostel at 7am. Unfortunately, there was no one in the lobby to inform that I’ll be leaving. Make things more impossible, the hostel’s location is in one of the alleys, so taxis don’t often go to that area. Good thing, the wifi was turned on, so I tried to use my Grabtaxi app. I made 3 attempts, 2 failed because they cannot contact me because I have no local number. Luckily, the 3rd one arrived, but he can’t speak English at all. I told him to take me to the airport. I remember I kept a copy of my itinerary translated in Thai, and I showed it to him. When we were near the airport, I know that he was asking whether we are going to the departure or arrival area. He cannot understand when I said departure, but I was in good fate, and I saw a translated sign of departure and I pointed it to him. I was really thankful for his willingness to understand, and to show my appreciation, I told him to keep the change.

For itinerary and budget, feel free to click the link, Bangkok 2016- itinerary

Hopefully when I have a chance to visit Thailand again, I get to see the famous temples, Patpong district, Phuket, Phi Phi Islands, and many more.

Summer in Singapore

4 years ago, I went on a trip with my best friend in Singapore that lasted for 12 days. We were freshly out from college then so we were bums. It was one of my most spontaneous trips ever, for we did not have any itineraries. We just knew that we will be there for a couple of days, and we will just go with the flow.

Singapore in a glimpse of 12 days and 11 nights (08.08.13-08.19.13)

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5J 805 MNL-SIN

It was a smooth 3-hour flight from Manila to Singapore on a fine-sunny Thursday morning of August 8, 2013. Upon arrival at Changi Airport in Singapore, we were fetched by the friend of my friend’s mom, and headed to Yew Tee to drop-off our luggage at her flat. We took a bus around the area, and alight at Choa Chu Kang before taking a cab going to Orchard Rd. We went to Takashimaya, and stroll around before having our dinner at Crystal Jade. After dinner, we headed to the grocery, and fill our carts that can suffice our cravings for about a week. We didn’t go to the Marina area on that day because it was Singapore’s National Day, and the area must be really crowded.

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Search for xiao long bao

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grocery supplies for one week

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view from our room

Day 2- 08.09.13

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It was a day to to meet up old friends. First, we went to Buona Vista, then to Holland Village. It was a day of catching-up, walking around, and eating at Hawkers.

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waiting for bus ride

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a mall in Buona Vista

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Day 3- 08.10.13

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A view of Marina Bay Sands Hotel

We explored the Marina Bay area on our 3rd day. We took the train, and walk towards the city coming from Raffles. We had dinner with friends at the Newton Food Place,  where I had a chicken satay dipped in peanut butter sauce and a Vietnamese-type of rice for dinner.

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Fullerton Hotel

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Singapore Flyer

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After eating and walking around, we went to the infamous bridge at Clarke Quay. When we were there, booze were still allowed to be consumed while police officers are roaming around. I had a free Singapore sling in exchange of a picture. They were promoting the drink at that time, and who wouldn’t want a free drink ( especially that booze are pretty expensive in Singapore). It was also my first time to see a convenience store with a very long line outside. I think they are the richest 7-eleven store in the world. Packed with long lines outside, people were there to buy beers, liquors and other beverages.

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Newton Food Place

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Chicken satay with peanut butter sauce

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Singapore sling for free!

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Day 4- 08.11.13

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Shoes at Little India

We went a little out of way that day, and headed to Little India. I am not really sure what to see in there, but we gave it a try. We ended up getting henna tattoos, designed by an Indian woman. Aside from us, there were also other foreigners, then I started bargaining the price. The Indian woman hushed me and said she’ll give us discount.

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Getting a henna tattoo

After our adventure in Little India, we went back to Orchard to watch movie with our friends. Who would love to see Conjuring in Singapore? Well, that’s us.

Day 5- 08.12.13

We woke up very late on our 5th day. So our day started in the late afternoon already. We explored the Gardens at the Bay at night, and I don’t think I could walk on those very high bridges in the morning. Thankfully, we did it at night. After being tourist-y, we had dinner at TCC in the Marina mall, and moved to Clarke Quay bridge for another night of booze.

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Gardens at the Bay

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Tourist-y vibe with the BFF

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Day 6- 08.13.13

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China town

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For today’s adventure, we visited the China Town, and ate at Toast Box. Wandered around the Raffles Place going to the Merlion Park and we saw the ice cream sandwich guy. Never leave Singapore without trying the ice cream sandwich, and it only costs SGD 1.20 At night, we passed by the Singapore flyer, but opted not to take it, and save it for another time.

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Goofing around the Merlion Park

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The famous Singapore landmark

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Ice cream sandwich for SGD 1.20

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Day 7- 08.14.13

Finally, we had a chance to go clubbing at Avalon. It was packed by foreign exchange students, and I was looking for my fellow Filipinos, but I guess they were busy studying. After-all it was a Tuesday night. We capped off the night by eating at one of the hawkers.

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Day 8- 08.15.13

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Resort’s World Sentosa

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After one week, we finally stepped into Sentosa Island, and chilled by the Siloso Beach. We met the lifeguard, who’s in the same age as ours. By night time, no one is allowed to camp out by the shore, but of course, we have the access. We did camp at night by the beach.

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Siloso Beach

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Sunset in Sentosa

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with the local lifeguards

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zipline from one end to another

Day 9- 08.16.13

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People waiting for the Songs of the Sea to start

We went back to Sentosa, and watched the Songs of the Sea for only SGD 12 per head. It was very entertaining and kids will love it, just as much as I did.

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We had to go back to our flat early to prepare for our dinner night with our host and her tenants. We had dinner at an Australian cuisine, Salt Grill and Sky Bar, located at the 56th floor in ION Orchard with a good view of Singapore’s skyline. I enjoyed the meal, and I was also surprised of our total bill, which cost around PHP 11000.

Day 10- 08.17.13

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Universal Studios Singapore

This day was dedicated for Universal Studios Singapore. I felt like being a kid again. I enjoyed it, but sadly not all rides were open that time or some have super long lines that I cannot afford to wait. Definitely, will come back for this.

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Exploring USS

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After our USS adventure, we passed by Bugis Junction to shop for souvenirs. I found a lot of affordable items and quirky gifts. You will love the place especially if you are a shopaholic. Towards early evening, we had dinner at Fandango in Chijmes district. I love this part of Singapore because of the ambiance.

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Day 11- 08.18.13

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This was our last night in Singapore, and we cannot miss a night at Marina Bay Sands hotel. Our host was very generous and sweet, and she gave it as a gift- overnight stay at MBS hotel. Who wouldn’t want to stay in this luxurious hotel, and plunge into the roof deck infinity pool.

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Day 12- 08.19.13

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We took a dip into the pool in the early morning of our last day before we checked out at lunch. We ate somewhere in Marina mall, but I cannot really recall where exactly it was. In the afternoon, we went to Changi Airport to catch our 5:00pm flight to Manila, and hola, back to reality.

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If given time, I will come back to Singapore, and try out things I haven’t visited, and will try to make a Singapore-Malaysia trip this time.