August 8-22, 2016
Mini-Life in Singapore
GPS waypoint: 1°17'02.5"N 103°51'34.7"E
Starting From Scratch
I had to go to Singapore by bus from Malacca (Malaysia) to catch a flight back to the Philippines. This was my 2nd time in Singapore, the land known for progressive development and high cost of living - quite daunting to a backpacker surviving on a shoestring. I loved it the first time. It still sounds miraculous that I survived 30 days here on US$300 - inclusive of boutique hotel stays, daily yoga classes and a personal tour of the Marina Bay Sands. I got lucky being able to work out barter deals that went a long way in conserving my meager cash.
All of that is memory. What welcomed me back was a 2-hour detention at Immigration followed by a frantic search for a place to stay. With none of my previous deals active, I had to start from scratch. My immediate concern was how to survive in this expensive city.
exploring the Lavender District on foot
Like Malacca, I was rushed the entire time from preparing proposals, meeting web deadlines, catching up on my blogs and looking for another roof over my head. I couldn't possibly see myself as a tourist - more like an expat who has to meet pressing deadlines. If not for Eunice who occasionally invited me for coffee and chats (thank you Eunice!), I would have been sucked-in like a black hole by my laptop. It's odd that for a guy like me who has no home, no property, no money and no steady job, I am exhaustingly busy that I need 36 hours to fit in one day!
Life gradually become easier as the days passed. I was able to arrange a few hotel deals within the Lavender District which sustained my stay from my 4th night til departure. At US$10/night being the cheapest, I could not have lasted more than a few days in Singapore. With toast and jam included for breakfast with my lodging, I only had to worry about 2 meals in a day. Sometimes, I got lucky. One time, I closed a resto deal at The.Twenty.Cavan - great food and mood ambience. I even invited Eunice to join me. It happens.
With my lodging looked after, it freed-up my time to explore the city again, instead of spending time pounding the pavement for hotel deals - a sigh of relief I needed for emotional solace and psychological well-being.
What fascinated me in Singapore was the popularity of e-scooters. You see commuters whiz by on their silent e-machines like swarming flies. It was the coolest thing! From a rider, I learned the uni-cycle used to be the craze, then the 2-wheeled hover-craft, and now, the e-scooter is the flavor of the month - although it seems like it is here to stay as it's the most practical for short commutes. It's not cheap. Entry level model starts at SG$900 and the dual motors can go as high as SG$2400.
I took a particular fancy at the Uni-Cycle - a one-wheel electronic urban transport vehicle. It's not for everyone but it wins the cool factor hands-down. I first saw this in Saigon while enjoying my Phoa. A guy on one wheel just whizzed by - it looked like a scene from a James Bond movie! I tried negotiating for a unit in the Philippines but got no response. But here in Singapore, while going to an electronic Expo event in search of a replacement laptop, I chanced on a few vendors selling Uni-Cycle units - they range from SG$350 to SG$1000. Again, I tried to negotiate an ex-deal but nothing came out of it. Sigh! I was already thinking that I'd be coming home with one. I haven't given up yet.
I was already enjoying my stay in Singapore and developing my own routine, with life getting better for me with every passsing day. I wanted to stay longer before heading back to the Philippines, but I was afraid I might miss the durian season by the time I arrive in Davao. With a little reluctance, I booked a flight.
Singapore this time around offered something different and familiar from the last time. Similar because life started hard with me paying cold cash for my lodging until I arranged hotel deals. Different because Eunice was there. Usually, I meet people along the way and they leave in a few days before the friendship can deepen...and I start the whole social cycle all over again. With Euncie being a local, she was there the entire time. We'd go out for coffee and just hang without the rush. She even tagged me along to her hometown in Kluang, Malaysia. Of course I met other people who added color to my Singapore experience. And for all of that, I remain grateful.
I love Singapore. It still remains the place I would settle down to, if I ever settle down. I admire and respect their no-nonsense efficiency and their forward-thinking and forward-moving sense of urgency. Being a Southeast Asian hub, if I want a lively Asian grit, Bangkok is just a short flight away. Good food? Penang is just a short flight away (making it clear that Singapore has good food too - I just can't afford it!). Everything seems within reach from Singapore.
My analogy for Singapore is that of a friend I'm not necessarily close to, but whose company I enjoy with equal respect and admiration. It's a kind of friendship where familiarity has no place - a no-nonsense friendship. An arms-length kind of love. A friendship that gives you space but remains accessible. I know, it borders on cold and clinical. But if I want something more intimate, I wouldn't be looking for a friend. I'd be looking for a lover - now, that calls for a different country. :)
Thank you Eunice, thank you Singapore!
Little India - Little India is the main tourism hub in Singapore. Friday and Saturday nights become animated with the night market
Chinatown -colorful and animated with Chinese ware shopping, sumptuous street food and hawker-style eats, try Ah Balling Peanut Soup
Orchard Road - upscale shopping and glitzy night life
Arab Street - backpacker dorms, shisha smoking with Middle Eastern atmosphere
Singapore Zoo - experience the night zoo, S$38
Fountain of Wealth - at Suntec City, largest fountain in the world (Guinness Book of Records in 1998), shop-til-you-drop
The Southern Ridges - best trekking trails in Singapore extending 10kms through lush forest canopy. Bring water, sunscreen and a hat
Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery - biggest Buddhist temple in Singapore
Marina Bay Sands - Singapore's most iconic building and most expensive at US$5.5B. Imagine a surf board on top of three skyscrapers
- Arcadia Hotel - stylish, modern, urbane, cool and confident. Jalan Besar district
32 Hamilton Road, Singapore 209201
+65 6718 0700 | firstname.lastname@example.org | 1°18'42.0"N 103°51'41.1"E
- Pinnacle Hotel - newly renovated, central location near Little India and MRT
270 Jalan Besar #01-01/02 Singapore 209019
tel: (65) 6499 8999 | (65) 6499 8996 | 1°18'37.1"N 103°51'31.2"E
- 7 Wonders Hostel - backpacker community, sleeping capsules, free wifi, complimentary breakfast, live English Premier League, dining, motion sensor lighting, alfresco outdoor sitting area
257 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208930
tel: (+65) 6291 3774 | 1°18'36.2"N 103°51'29.8"E
- Meadows Hostel - newly opened, all new and clean, backpacker capsule beds, central Lavender District location, 24/7 compli tea and coffee, wifi, compli breakfast
7A Hamilton Road, Kallang, Singapore, Singapore 209178
tel: 6298.1323 | 1°18'40.2"N 103°51'38.0"E
cafe, tea house and restaurant
- Mini-Life in Singapore August 8-22, 2016
- Peoplescape of Singapore Aug. 8-22, 2016
- Discovering the Neighborhood Cafes of Singapore Aug 8-22, 2016
- Biological Cell Regulation (BCR) Therapy at Chang Wellness Aug 16, 2016
- Getting my Xiaomi Redmi Note3 Smart Phone Aug. 9, 2016
- A Roof Over my Head in Singapore Aug. 8-22, 2016
- 2-Hour Detention at Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority August 8, 2016
- Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew Mar 23, 2015
- Life Hacking in Singapore Mar 22, 2015
- Exploring More of Singapore Feb 21 - Mar 22, 2015
- Power Yoga Class at Yoga Inc., Singapore Mar 21, 2015
- Touring Marina Bay Sands Mar 17, 2015
- The Singapore Magic Mar 16, 2015
- Singapore Yoga at Yoga Inc. Mar 8, 2015
- Singapore on a Shoe String Feb 20, 2015
- Things to do in Singapore Oct 20, 2013
- Singapore Girl July 21, 2013
- Lee Kuan Yew and Ferdinand Marcos Jan 26, 2003
(Sep 10, 2016) You thanked me too many times...thank you too!!
August 8-22, 2016
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