“Love is sweeter the second time around”, a quotation that sums up my love affair with Singapore.
I never thought that I would come back to the Lion City only a year after my last visit. It was an unplanned trip that turned out to be one of the most memorable. I got to experience the country and its culture more and most importantly I was able to mingle with tourists and locals.
DAY 1 Part 1: Changi Airport, Tampines, Clarke Quay & Chinatown
Our flight from NAIA T3 left Manila at 5:40AM. After 3 hrs and 25 minutes our plane landed at the Terminal 2 of Singapore Changi International Airport. The airport in itself is something every tourist should experience since it is one of the busiest hubs in Asia – not to mention the numerous perks for passengers like free movies while waiting for your flight. It is has a mini garden in the middle, shops, money changers and restaurants.
After going through the Singapore Immigration, we went directly to the MRT station. From there, we bought our 2-day Tourist pass that would allow us to use the trains and buses in Singapore unlimited for 2 days.
Changi Airport Station Ticketing Office Schedule: 8:00AM – 3:45PM 4:45PM – 9:00PM
We were still early for our check in time so we went to the Tampines 1 Mall first where we will buy our Legoland tickets from WTS Travel. Our train ride going to Tampines allowed us to see more of Singapore’s housings, schools and other businesses. It was, I think, a bit different from what I saw moving around Bugis, Clarke Quay and Marina Bay during my trip last year. It has a more homey feel to it and I was able to see more locals.
We arrived at Tampines just as the mall was opening and it is quite a busy spot. There are a lot of business establishments selling clothes, local and imported goods, home supplies and food. We had to go to the 3rd floor of the building where WTS is located. And that’s where we actually had our first Filipino encounter in Singapore. The staff manning the concierge section at the mall is Filipino. He might have heard us talking nearby so when we asked, he answered in Tagalog. What a sigh of relief. Haha!
WTS Travel Tampines 1: Phone: +65-6587 8558 Fax: +65-6782 8974 Address: 10, Tampines Central 1 #04-16, Tampines 1 Singapore 529536 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Opening Hours: 11AM-9:30PM (Daily)
After getting our tickets, we hurriedly went to the MRT to go to our hostel in Clarke Quay. It was a very interesting ride. The train was starting to get full and when there was a lady who had bandages in her arms. As a sign of courtesy, we offered our seat for her. She thanked us then asked if we are Filipinos. She said she saw the Cebupacific tags in our bags. Haha. It was a long conversation going to our station. We talked about famous spots in the Philippines, Singapore and US. She even told us about the must-try food places in Singapore. It was a very nice experience, a prelude to more conversations with random people.
Our hostel is located at Clarke Quay, just a couple of minutes from the Central Mall. I chose River City Inn because I really liked the ambience and the people, a good mixture of privacy and being able to mingle with others (Please see my post on River City Inn here). We were early for our check in time so we decided to pay our bills and buy discounted tickets before heading to Chinatown.
River City Inn is located at 33C Hong Kong Street Singapore 059672
Tel No: +65-6532-6091
Chinatown is just a short walk from Clarke quay. Since walking is common in Singapore, we didn’t have a hard time walking except for the occasional heat from the sun. There are a lot of nice shops along the way selling delicacies and souvenirs. The buildings were structured in British, Chinese and moderns styles and are definitely worth the camera shots.
Our first stop was the Maxwell food center located just at the corner of South Bridge Road. It is very easy to locate as it is in front of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. The place was very busy when we arrived. We immediately spotted the popolar chicken rice spot – the Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice. The line was really long. After a couple of minutes waiting in line, we finally got to experience authentic Singaporean Hainanese chicken and it didn’t disappoint. It was well-cooked and delicious with the ginger, chili and soy sauce.
Right after eating, we went to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple just across the street. There was a ceremony on-going so we had to keep quiet. For those wearing shorts, they were advised to wear a malong as a sign of respect. There were numerous buddhas inside for different birth years and prayers.
After touring the temple, we decided to go back to our hostel to freshen up. On our way, we visited the rest of Chinatown – Smith St, Temple St and Pagoda St. It was like being transported to China with all the colorful and intricate architechtures. It was a nice place to look for cheap but nice souvenirs.
Catch my next posts soon…..