Everytime I think about Singapore, I recall a smorgasbord of things that I miss about it. And yes, that includes that awesome tapsilog I had at Jollibee, and that chicken rice discovery. Which was divine. IS divine. WILL FOREVER BE DIVINE.
But if there’s anything aside food that I really loved about my visit, it was the cultural experience. It’s hard to resist comparing it with Taiwan (and Manila but really, sorry, we still have loads of rice to eat) and marvel at how every place is just picture-perfect. Taiwan is pretty in a natural rustic way but Singapore is charmingly modern. Also, I think being a “melting pot of culture” is exactly the best way to describe Singapore. I mean, where else can you travel to almost all the continents in a day? The only thing missing was snow.
The MRT became my best friend, and Google maps another BFF. It also helped that my friend (Tenks Mon!) told me to download Singapore Maps and Singapore Bus which both incredibly amazed me. I was like, daef we don’t have this in Taipei? To which my Taiwanese friend defended that we do have, but only in Chinese. Boo.
Yup, I still printout stuff like these every. single. trip.
I only had 3 full days to spend in Singapore, and it’s not enough! I spent the first day exploring the Esplanade area with friends. Most of that evening was consumed with me trying to get a great shot of the Gardens by the Bay but I guess nothing will ever beat the real thing.
Or I just really need another lens. My first day at Singapore showed me why it’s first-world, mostly fueled by modern architecture. And what being a melting pot of culture is really like. Truly really 100% awesomely like.
Museums to soak up on SG culture/history
The first museum I went to was the Peranakan museum along Armenian street. It took me a while to find it and had time walking around the “garden city” to understand what exactly that means.
I chose the Peranakan museum because it showcases a mix of Malay and Chinese culture and everything else in between. It was one of those multicultural things that make you think wave migration theory (supposing it’s real) is one heck of a godsend. After paying the entrance fee, I decided to go ahead and explore the home-like museum by myself. I was too excited to wait for the English tour to start. Btw, if you can still catch it make sure you take time to visit the Great Peranakans: Fifty Remarkable Lives.
The museum is a must-visit for culture and history fans. It will show you how Singapore came to be what it is and how its people are truly among the gems of the country. You’ll also understand what being Malay-Chinese is all about and hey, thanks to this place, I learned that I didn’t need to look too far to experience such rich cultural heritage. Most of the Fil-Chinese in the Philippines belong to this race. That explains why most of the decorations on the furniture kinda looks familiar.
After checking out Peranakan museum, I went to visit the National Museum next. Entrance was free except for the ongoing Singapore history exhibit at B1. There’s also a gallery dedicated to Lee Kwan Yew at that time and boy, did it make a fan out of me after reading through what he did for Singapore.
Globe-trotting from within
Apparently, a ticket to Singapore is the equivalent of not just one but at least five different countries. One of the first things I got amazed with was the variety of races I got to see. Coming from a predominantly East Asian country, it’s like I snapped out of my bubble and realized that hey, Malays are Asians too! I mean every single day I’m surrounded by Chinese folks. I myself look like one and blend in perfectly until I speak and convince everyone I’m a kindergarten trapped in a woman’s body. Speaking of speaking, it’s such a relief to hear people talk in English and be able to read signs again. And it’s also great to be able to see lots of different expats, with their respective families, roaming around.
diversity in a photo
It’s like I entered into a portal (MRT) to exit (quite literally) into another country without the need for immigrations. Chinatown, Little India, and Arab Street all have their own distinct cultures that they all have their own unique flair that sets them apart from each other, like some sort of salute to the cutures they’ve been rooted on.
It’s funny though that while I was in Little India, a Chinese lady mistook me for a fellow Chinese. I wanted to say I’m not and also admit that I hardly understood what she said but hey, she just thrusted her smartphone right in the palm of my hand. How was I to refuse? Also, she started backing off the curb and right into the street that I got scared she’ll get run over by a car. Anyway, I was able to ask her to come closer (in English) and the only Mandarin I got to say to her was “I, er, san (one, two, three). Cheese!”
All in all, there’s really no better way to explain these three places but being there, getting on a food trip, and then eventually venturing further to their actual countries. It’s like a big taste test of what you’d likely expect and the taste test itself is already authentic.
How do you Sentosa without paying anything?
Well you just walk around haha. I didn’t know Sentosa was how they called the whole thing and it was pretty amazing to realize that you need a couple of days (at least) to explore everything it’s got to offer. Funny thing was, I actually didn’t mind not being able to go into Universal Studios. I mean seriously. I could skip it again when I’m back. I guess my inner kid has grown up a bit, I guess. But I’d really love to see the aquariums next time. NEXT TIME! PROMISE! (uh mom, you’re gonna pay for tickets right? hehehe).
Awesome from start to finish
I entered Singapore in utter amazement. I did the same thing as I left the country. Upon check in on my departure day, Cathay Pacific gave me a wonderful parting gift:
CX Crew: Hi Ma’am we’re sorry but your flight is delayed.
Me: Really? How long?
CX Crew: Here ma’am (shows me the paper) your flight will be delayed til late this afternoon so we are going to give you the option to transfer to this flight…
THE FLIGHT IS A SINGAPOREAIR FLIGHT, DIRECT TO TAIPEI.
At this point, my eyes went so wide as if I was bolted awake by three pure shots of espresso. The crew was apologetically explaining to me the ramifications of this seeming disaster while in my head all I could think about was…
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME THIS IS THE BEST DELAY EVER OMG OF COURSE I’LL GET THAT FLIGHT HAND ME THE TICKET PLEASE BEFORE YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND!!!”
As the crew finished her apologies, I smiled and told her politely that I will take the SingaporeAir flight and thank you so much. Don’t worry, it’s no big deal. If I decided to stick with my CX flight (Singapore-HK-Taipei), I’d need to wait until around 1 PM. But if I take the SQ flight, I would just get delayed for 30 mins. Flight was gonna leave at 8:30 AM instead. OF COURSE I’M GONNA TAKE IT!!!
Sorry I wasn’t able to take photos of the SQ flight because I just wanted to savor the moment. It was great, except for some really bad turbulence over Vietnam. From the hot towels, to the silver cutlery despite being in economy class, to being able to watch new movies, to the menu card…I was just so happy and thankful that I got delayed haha. The experience made me seriously consider saving up for an SQ flight for me and my parents on our scheduled trip to Singapore. Crossing my fingers I’ll chance upon a sale.
As of writing this, I can’t wait ’til the next time I’d go to Singapore. Now that I’ve seen it, I finally understand why it gained such popularity and everyone raves about it. I’m actually impressed with how multicultural the locals could be. It’s like the window to the world and you can forget that you’re in Asia or anywhere specific in the world while you’re there. You’re just on Earth, period, enjoy it. And enjoy Singapore because it’s one of those places on this planet where you can be reminded of how diverse people could be and still make things work together, despite our human capacity for being consumed by the wrong things. But Singapore did it right, and it sure went above and beyond my expectations.