Parents Visit SG: Day 3

Third and last full day in Singapore for my parents.

  • I recommended my parents visit the Singapore Art Museum for the ongoing Singapore Biennale.
  • Check-out from our first hotel.
  • Taxi ride to our one-night stay at MBS. I surprised my parents with this one because I originally told them we were staying at a hotel in Lavender. Wish you could join us Paul!
  • We were given a room upgrade! 🙂 –so it took a while to take it all in
  • Lunch at Rasapura food court at The Shoppes. The only place you can get cheaper meals in the vicinity of MBS. Even if the Beef Bulgogi meal is twice the price you’d find in Bishan.
  • Swimming at the infinity edge pool at the top of MBS. The weather is chilly recently (chilly by Singapore standards of hot and humid). Wind blowing..
  • Quick shower so we could reach the nearby Flower Dome before the sun set. We made it and Neil joined us here straight from his work.
  • Flower Dome followed by the Cloud Forest, which is one of my favourite spots in Singapore. Mom was a bit scared when we were on the higher parts where the flooring is just railing above a hundred meters of space.
  • Taxi to Makansutra where Suzie joined us. Ran into my former boss… or rather, the boss of my former boss… ASV! Winner.
  • A night time stroll back to MBS via the Floating Stadium and Helix Bridge.
  • Back at the room, my parents had time to look back at photos taken on my mom’s iPad mini. Neil is asleep next to me now.
  • Lovely but tiring day. My parents are returning to Manila already tomorrow! The four-day ‘state visit’ I prepped is coming to a close.

The photos:

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Parents Visit SG: Day 2

More photos of my parents’ trip to Singapore. The set below was taken on the 2nd full day of their stay here in the Lion City.

  • Heard the 11:00 am English mass at the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Bras Basah (behind the Singapore Art Museum). Neil and I used to go to church there during our job hunt days. (Nearest MRT: Bras Basah)
  • Lunch at Just Acia in Dhoby Ghaut. This is a favourite when we have guests visit Singapore. They offer set meals that come with bottomless sodas and ice cream.
  • Took the train to Harbourfront (VivoCity) followed by the Sentosa monorail to Imbiah Hill. Mostly touristy stuff like photos by the big Merlion and the surrounding fountains.
  • Walked down towards Resorts World Sentosa. Photos at the Universal Studios globe.
  • Neil shared some Garret’s Popcorn while we did a little people-watching.
  • Walk back to VivoCity via Sentosa Boardwalk.
  • Train back City Hall MRT (via Dhoby Ghaut). Sampled (what a touristy word!) kaya toast and soft-boiled egg at Ya Kun Kaya Toast Raffles City.
  • Walked back to the hotel to rest for about an hour. I enjoyed watching the skies dim over the cityscape.
  • Parents’ first public bus ride was from the hotel to Clarke Quay.
  • Dinner at Song Fa Bak Kut Teh. Dad really enjoyed!
  • A walk around Clarke Quay.
  • Surprised my parents with tickets for the Singapore River Cruise. We boarded around 9:20 PM and it took us down the river towards Marina Bay. It was actually… romantic! I’ve never seen Singapore from that vantage point… and it’s beautiful. Like all the urban noise gets muted away from the sound of light waves brushing the side of our boat.
  • Alighted at Clarke Quay (after making a full circle) where we took a bus back to Bras Basah. Neil and I dropped my parents off at the front of the hotel before we went home to our flat in Bishan.

The photos taken today:

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My Parents Visit Singapore: Day 1

An important and meaningful item on my bucket list is to be able to bring my parents to Singapore for a tour. The Lion City means so much to me as a sign of personal independence. This is the city where I made a living for myself without an allowance from my parents. Ever since I got a good offer to stay and work in Singapore, I have always wanted to pay back my parents for all the support they have given me all these years.

Okay enough na the senti!

Neil and I picked them up at Changi Airport on Friday. For the first night, I wanted my parents to see our HDB flat in Bishan. So we took a cab from the airport and settled down at the house.

Neil prepared breakfast for everybody this morning. By breakfast it was more like steamed rice with spam and corned beef. I showed my parents the TV channel that I work for.

The itinerary for the first day:

  • First MRT Ride: Bishan to Dhoby Ghaut
  • Walk to the National Museum of Singapore to visit the Singapore History Gallery
  • Lunch at Wee Nam Kee (United Square). Take train from Dhoby Ghaut to Novena MRT
  • A quick pictorial at Chjmes (old church turned into a bar-resto conclave)
  • Check-in at Carlton Hotel and rest
  • Try Garret’s Popcorn (those free samples only at CityLink)
  • Walk to The Esplanade Theatres by the Bay, Merlion Park, and The Fullerton Hotel. Pictorial along the mouth of the Singapore River.
  • Try Pineapple Tarts at Mr. Bean (at Raffles Place MRT)
  • Mom’s Shopping at Orchard (Forever 21 at 313@Somerset and H&M Orchard Road). Pictorial in front of Ngee Ann City.
  • Dinner at Menya Musashi (ION Orchard). Tried White Cha Shu Ramen.
  • Mom’s shopping continues at Forever 21 at ION. Neil buys my mom a few gifts in advance of her upcoming birthday.
  • New SingTel SIM for my parents so I could contact them. (Passport and IC registration required as usual)
  • Popeyes Louisiana Chicken for take-away.
  • Parted ways with parents at Orchard MRT

The day in photos.

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SG Flashback Friday No. 3

Every Flashback Friday I'll share photos that were taken at some point in the past two years during my blogging hiatus.

In today’s edition I’ll share photos from our first week in Singapore which was in March 2012. Grabe, parang last month lang kami dumating sa Singapore ang feeling. Time flies!

Some of my friends already had job offers in Singapore. So for them it was more like just taking a plane to the Lion City and worrying about what to wear on their first day. It was a different case for me, my boyfriend, and two of our friends. We flew to Singapore within the same week with nothing but hopes, dreams… and CVs. lol

Exciting times! I remember Singapore feeling so massive then. Like, when you would mention places like “Woodlands” or “Jurong” I would imagine forests like those in Twilight or windmills over scenic valleys. Okay, exaggerating. But seriously, my eyes were wide-open. I was excited to be in Singapore. It was a concept or an idea that was materializing. The thrill of not knowing what was next. Questions in my mind lingered… was I going to use that return ticket to Manila? Was I going to get a call back from my desired employer? Will I have enough cash to enjoy a decent burger at Wendy’s?

We stayed at a nice backpackers’ hostel along historic Joo Chiat Road during our first week in Singapore. The name of the hostel is Betel Box and it was a great place to stay. Free wi-fi, free breakfast, and lots of interesting travellers sitting around.

Other photos in this set include some taken from our first visit to Sentosa.

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SG Flashback Friday No. 2

Every Flashback Friday I'll share photos that were taken at some point in the past two years during my blogging hiatus.

This week we flashback to April 2012. I was living in a backpackers’ hostel in Lavender during my job hunting period. At the time these photos were taken, I had already accepted a job offer. 🙂

Since my future office was just a bus stop away from MacRitchie Reservoir, I invited my friend Bau, and three other friends I met at the hostel, to join me and my boyfriend on a little hike at the MacRitchie trails.

First, we needed to store up on some energy so we headed over to the Wendy’s near our hostel. At the time, I was unemployed for about six months already so eating at Wendy’s where a burger meal is SGD 12.00 (PHP 400.00+) was almost impractical. I ate like mixed veggie rice (yung parang turo-turo) so much that I feel like throwing up when I think about it now. Grabe ang tipid days namin when we were looking for a job.

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I love my boyfriend’s photo here.
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(L to R) Neil, Douglas and Eric (friends from the hostel), and Bau
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Buses that call at 51071 MacRitchie Reservoir.

MacRitchie Reservoir is almost at the center of the island of Singapore. It is an ideal place for jogging, hiking, and appreciating tropical nature. Honestly, it’s amazing that a highly urbanised island city-state like Singapore manages to maintain these beautiful nature reserves.

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Neil, Douglas, and Eric
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We shared bunks with seven other backpackers at a time. This happened for two months!
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Eric was also hunting for a job during those days.
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We still looked fresh here.
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Ate Marichu (the girl there) was the receptionist at the hostel. Super friendly. I miss her!
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Ate Marichu and Neil would have coffee sessions every night. While Mandy.com was on.

It was a gorgeous sunny day in Singapore. It was nice to see so much landscape in Singapore. At the time, all I had been exposed to was Singapore’s urban side. I had to take this sight in and breathe a little. Maybe even pinch myself… “I’m in Singapore!”

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The part of MacRitchie Reservoir that sits closest to the park and bus stop.
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Douglas and Ate Marichu.
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Dessie also joined us for our little hike.

From the bus stop you can enter the MacRitchie Reservoir park which has manicured lawns, running paths, benches and exercise equipment. There are various trails at MacRitchie that depend on how far or how much time you wish to spend there. We took one of the smaller trails.

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Here we go!
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We had just started our hike. Look at our enthusiasm!
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The trail was pretty laid out already.
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Occasionally a runner would pass by us.
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There were lots of monkeys!

After only a kilometre into the 8 or 9-km trail, we were already feeling beat by the tropical humidity. Grabe di ba! Kain agad.

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Pagod na agad?!
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Useful trail markers.
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Beware.

The weather started to change slightly as we went deeper into the MacRitchie trail. It started to become a bit cloudy.

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Douglas
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We were excited to visit the TreeTop Walk but didn’t realise how far inside it was.

We wanted to give up since we weren’t prepared for the heat and humidity. Most of us didn’t bring enough water and snacks. Eventually, with a little push, we made it to the TreeTop Walk. What a relief!

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TreeTop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir.
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Is Dessie afraid? 😛
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Ate Marichu didn’t realise we were going on a long hike hahahaha.
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Letting my hair down ‘yo.
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Best. Pic. Everrrr.
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Ate don’t.
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I think dog’s weren’t allowed on the bridge. But madam managed to let it pass.

Afer the bridge we were worried it would start raining and we would get stuck in the middle of the MacRitchie trails. Worse, I was afraid of lightning because lightning is CRAZY in Singapore.

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Wooden paths. You get the idea that these trails are pretty much laid out. hehe
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Ayan basa na ang pathway
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The first two hours it was like a yellow brick road. Now I’m hungry but no food!
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I don’t want to be here at night.
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I’m getting hungrrrryyy

The following photos were taken about three hours into our 8 or 9 kilometre walk into the MacRitchie trails. We wanted to get out na by this point kasi gutom na kami lahat.

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Okay this is getting too real.
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Deep inside Singapore.
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No snakes. Bet they are watching football or something. (Gutom na ako!)
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Pagod na!
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Suddenly in the middle of nowhere a map… followed by a shed with bathrooms, a vending machine, water fountains… goodness how convenient. This is Singapore.

Yes we wanted out. Kasi ‘di kami prepared. If you flashback this Flashback Friday you’d notice again that we were wearing casual clothes! As if we were headed to City Square Mall instead of the jungle. LOL.

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What we wore in the jungle. Haha! Yung bag mo Ate Marichu. Jungle day.
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Yes let us out!
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You can get prosecuted for feeding the monkeys.
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But the monkeys have already found a way to help themselves. (Malamang.)

Looking back… we took the funniest exit ever. We walked towards the service road which brought us past a military facility (!!). Parang no one was walking around that area. Mala-Lost ang itsura namin.

Venus Road… where the hell is that?!

This service road snaked its way around a golf course before it spit us out along Upper Thomson Road. Having enjoyed the first two hours of the hike… followed by two agonising hours trying to find our way out of MacRitchie trails… we hopped onto a bus that took us to nearby Ang Mo Kio. Haha.

Nakakaloka ang ma-lost ka sa MacRitchie. With big maps and well-maintained trail paths… who the hell gets lost there haha. Parang tanga lang but it was real fun to bond with ze friends from the hostel.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t use GPS or something… this is the reason why:

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That’s my phone model when I started out in Singapore. OMG. But that’s also the phone model where I received a call from HR telling me about a job offer. Happy days!

Next week on Flashback Friday: The intrigues living inside a backpackers’ hostel.

MacRitchie Reservoir is a fun place for nature lovers. Learn more about it by visiting this website.

Celebrating a New Year in Singapore

It was my first new year celebration in Singapore! It might be my last to spend an actual new year away from home… because nothing beats spending it with family back in Cavite. In the suburban Philippines, the skies light up… the sounds of fireworks echo across the horizon for several hours… and my mom does her parade around the house with lusis in hand.

That said… my first new year celebration in Singapore wasn’t bad at all. We decided not to squeeze ourselves into the crowds at Marina Bay (where some of the only fireworks in Singapore can be seen). We stayed at home. I also didn’t want to spend SGD 80.00 (almost PHP 3,000) on party tickets at Siloso Beach.

My housemates and I prepared a little buffet… my goodness busog kung busog. One of my housemates ordered a puto platter (100 pcs for SGD 30.00 or roughly PHP 1,000). They also cooked tokwa’t baboy (tofu with pork) which had a spicy kick. My favourite was the lumpiang shanghai (Filipino-style fried springroll) which was my months-long craving. There was also fruit salad.

I told my housemate she could start up an underground catering business. Make money off cooking these Filipino classics.

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Puto (steamed rice cakes) with a slice of cheese.
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Lumpiang shanghai or fried spring rolls. YUMMY.
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The tokwa’t baboy (tofu with pork strips) in soy sauce and calamansi.
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Fruit salad, Filipino-style… sweet with condensed milk…

We skipped the beer this time and instead had Jim Beam with Coke Zero. I also a few glasses of red and white wine.

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The boyfriend cooked his tuna and mushroom pasta in olive oil.
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Two of our guests ordered pizza from Pezzo (which used to be Sarpino’s).

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I was on Skype with my parents minutes before the countdown. This was my first New Year celebration away from my family.

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My live connection to Cavite. Parents were away lighting up fireworks. I had the popping sounds from Cavite playing on my x-mini.

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We watched the fireworks at Marina Bay from the comfort of our little HDB flat. Happy New Year Singapore!

Christmas Gifts 2013

This is the portion where I brag about all the gifts I received this Christmas so you can go ahead and skip reading this. But it’s not like I’m a materialistic freak show anyway. This is a sincere thanks to my family and friends who were thoughtful this season. Special mention to Dessie, you’ll understand why in a bit.

First of all, here is our Christmas setup at our humble HDB flat in Singapore:

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I got the Christmas tree at Groupon! For real Christmas trees, you know… the ones that I would imagine smell as sweet as Alaska, you can get them from Thomson Road here in Singapore. But I wouldn’t know what to do with it once the season was over. The decorations are from IKEA (couldn’t find meatball ornaments though). The Christmas lights are from FairPrice Finest (think SM Supermarket). The boxes under the tree are from Lacoste and Louis Vuitton =p =p

My housemate added a few candy canes for added effect. Kaso hindi namin na-consider ang humidity ng Singapore… so some of the candy canes melted… ang sweet ng tree namin 🙂

Underneath the tree:

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Effort Dessie! Special mention to you!
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The boyfriend, excited as always.
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Thanks Jenny for the placemats, drink coasters, and adorable sandok!
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So cute!
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Gifts from my housemates and from Toni, which I brought over from the Philippines.
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My mom gave me a t-shirt (she also gave one to Neil, yihee!), a religious diary and a heartwarming card.
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This one was gifted by my former officemate DJ. Look, Neil already ate through half of it.

Thank you for the thoughtful Christmas gifts! The smartphone case from my housemate, the Astroboy tee and office notepads from Toni, the pencil case from Dessie, a t-shirt and religious diary from my mom (plus the card, perhaps a nod to my coming out to her earlier this year)… and the cashew polvoron from DJ… which Neil is almost done with.

My cousin in the states also snail mail’d holiday greetings. It’s nice to see photos of family back there.

Let’s end this post with a version of the ABS-CBN 2013 Christmas SID made by some of our friends here in Singapore. If you watch through it… my boyfriend is there swinging his arms around.

Merry Christmas!

Happy 48th Birthday, Singapore!

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Singapore turned 48 this year. We didn’t get to watch the National Day Parade live (or at least nearby for the fireworks). We watched the coverage on HD 5 from home.

It’s nice to observe how different countries do their National Day. The U.S. celebrates every “4th of July” while the Philippines has its own traditions every 12th of June.

Combined with Hari Raya Puasa last Thursday, this is a long weekend full of celebrations.