In May of 2004, my brother Mark, his then girlfriend now his wife Joy, and myself had our very first tourist trip internationally. This is not my first time to go out of the country after my one month business trip in Hanoi, Vietnam, but this is my first time to travel on a travel package. And this is a first for both Mark and Joy to travel abroad. Actually it was myself and Joy’s idea to take a travel package abroad and we have thought of Singapore.
And so we purchased a 3 days/2 nights package to Singapore with accommodations to Hotel Grand Central, tickets with Singapore Airlines and a half day city tour which costed about US$210 if I remember it right. At first we had to convince my bro for this which he eventually gave way.
So, our trio went on. I had to assist both of them pass through the NAIA airport upto taking our flight. We were early in the airport to be able to get good seats so we had to wait about an hour for our boarding. On board, wow, we were impressed with the interiors of the airplane as all seats were equipped with its own entertainment screen. This is unlike my flight to Vietnam with Cathay Pacific that some of their planes didn’t have personal screens. The food served was also good.
When we arrived at Changi International Airport around before noon and we were instantly amazed by how beautiful the airport was. It was carpeted, had a beautiful garden inside, and how organized. We’ve instantly felt sad of the situation of Manila‘s old NAIA airport also. Anyway, I still thought that the Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok International Airport was better.
We were picked up by our hotel from the airport. Hotel Grand Central is located near the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station and near Orchard Drive. Upon booking at the hotel, we’ve scheduled our city tour the next day.
After settling down and having our lunch, we decided to check out the city on our own. Our first destination is Sentosa. With a map that we have got from the airport, we took the MRT from Dhoby Ghaut to the nearest MRT station that we think to the World Trade Center for the cable car to Sentosa. Dhoby Ghaut station turned out to be an MRT link that interconnects another MRT line. We alighted at the nearest MRT station that we thought was and I just realized now how far we had to walk to get there. We alighted at Tanjong Pagar station and walked a long walk from there.
Anyway, we arrived at the cable station quite exhausted and bought our tickets there. The cable car costed around SG$9 if I remember it right. The ride took about 10 minutes from to the station at Sentosa after passing by the sea. It was a bit scary as it rolled out and had us hanging to the air specially when it passed by the central pylon that held the cars. It offered a great view of the city though and of Sentosa and even the industrial areas of Indonesia.
Sentosa is one of the prime tourist destination in Singapore and I’d say one shouldn’t miss this when going to Singapore. We first took the free brochures of the park to learn of the different things to see in the island plus park hours. We’ve decided to check out the giant Merlion, the fountain park, the pink dolphin show, the underwater world oceanarium, and the beautiful light show at the Musical fountain.
We started on walking to the Merlion replica that stood high within the Sentosa. Since it was closed that time for renovation, we opted just to take pictures from its foot. From there we walked down past the fountain area to the park near the ferry area. It was quite a long walk that we decided to take the monorail to get to our next destination.
A monorail system runs around the island with select stops near its main attractions. We’re very glad to use it as we are starting to have foot sores. We next went to watch the dolphin show which only happens about 3 times a day. The show costs about SG$12.50 with inclusion of the access to the Underwater World oceanarium. The dolphin show started around 5:45pm and it was nice that the sun is still high at this time. The show featured 4 pink dolphins which is a rare species. They’ve had a good show and they have a time to pet the dolphins for the kids for a cost.
Then again we moved to the Underwater World. This time we took the bus that rounds the island. Well the oceanarium offered the opportunity to experience different marine creatures. They even have a touching pool. And down below, is a tube that pass under the tank filled with sharks, rays, and different types and sizes of fishes. It was amazing and very nice.
We soon headed for the Magical Fountain to catch the 7:45 show. There was an earlier show at 5:30 but we decided to take this one. We were told to go there about 30 minutes before the show as this is the main show and it will be packed with people. Indeed it was but luckily we got a good spot. The show played a story of one man who ventured to the world of Sentosa and through the show the fountain was lit by different lights and videos. With the beautiful accompanied music, performance and fire blown to the air, it a show one definitely shouldn’t miss.
After the show we head back to our hotel to take some rest for our city tour the next day. It was a very exhilarating but great day.
At around 9:30 am the next day, we joined the group tour of the city on a bus. Well at least there would be less walking for us that day. The first stop of our tour was the original Merlion statue that is found at the Marina area where water juts out of its mouth to the sea. It was a beautiful icon for Singapore.
After about 3o minutes, we all went back to the bus to go to our next stop at Chinatown. We dropped off into one of its temples. On our way there, we passed through Suntec City and the Fountain of Wealth. After Chinatown, we headed next to the highest peak in Singapore, Mt. Faber where another replica of the merlion is to be found. From the top of it, one can get a 360 degree view of the city. Also, the first station of the Sentosa Cable Car can be found there.
Our last stop was in a souvenir shop in the Little India area. Here we no longer rode our bus back to the hotel for we headed to the eastern side of the island to Tampines to visit one of Joy’s relatives there.
Luckily, her relative there had a car and so her cousin drove us back to the city to visit other spots which we have not gone to like Boat Quay were we road a boat that cruises along the Singapore River. The boat ride took about 30 minutes long and it run to the mouth of the river to where the original merlion stood, giving us a view of Singapore’s cityscape at night to the inner part of the river to Clarke Quay where different establishments are there. It was a good short tour of the city by someone who already lived there. A few hours later we went back to the city and went up the Stamford Swissotel for a great view of Singapore at night.
The next day was our last day in Singapore and we thought of something to try. We headed north of the island to try to cross the Malaysian border. So early in the morning around 6AM we took an MRT ride to the north. We alighted at Kranji station and took a bus to Johor Bahru, first Malaysian city from Singapore. The trip was quite short, we just crossed the border and looked around for a few minutes and then walked back and rode a bus to Singapore.
We alighted at Orchard Station at the shopping district of the city and walked about 3 kilometers to our hotel. The road is lined by big malls and five star hotels. It was also lined by trees and different plants. It was a beautiful place to shop.
Our Singapore experience ended at around 2:30pm that day as we went back to the airport to go home to the Philippines. It was such a great experience and it was such a beautiful place. This made me come back 5 more times in the next few years.