Sunday, March 31, 2013

Beautiful Sunday # 49 - Gifts and surprises

Happy Easter!

I hope everyone had a great holiday. In my case, I spent the entire week at home with my family. After my Singapore trip, the past days were spent unpacking, sorting out gifts, and more importantly, resting. Most of my days were spent in bed, reading tons of book downloads and watching movies and drama series. This is life! Unfortunately, some good things must come to an end. Time flies so fast and on Monday, I will be back to work again. Hopefully, the holiday break gave me my much needed fuel to start my summer work. Teaching is over but I have a lot of backlog in my office work.

Before I finally return to reality, let me recount the few good and beautiful things that made my week. 


You see this Adidas bag? I filled them with different goodies for my friends, colleagues and a few relatives. As I explore the Marina Bay Shoppes, the bag gradually got heavier with gifts. I'm excited to distribute my pasalubong (gifts) to everyone on Monday. ;) 

My family enjoyed this expensive chocolate for the first time. I bought this from Singapore though there are shops selling these in the Philippines. Royce is expensive both in Singapore and Philippines. However, Singapore's retail price is a bit cheaper. I took advantage and as a result, everyone in the family gained additional lines in the weighing scale. Haha

Meet the newest member of our family!
Say hello to our new puppy. Hi there Zeus!

The annual Easter procession which we regularly attend. I blogged about this a few years ago here

Pardon my humongous face 
 There were humps and bumps in my Singapore trip. Truth is, I wasn't totally happy with the outcome of my trip. A few hours before my return flight, someone agreed to meet up in Singapore.
Meet my fellow Filipina blog friend, Zigrid! 

Zigrid treated me to a great Italian meal and accompanied me to the airport. I spent my last few hours in Singapore with her. She even showered me with chocolates, which satisfied my Happy Glutton Family. Haha
Thank you Zigrid! 

One thing I can say about my friend, demure to the highest level! haha Dalagang Pilipina ang peg pero super bait and accommodating. I hope you won't get mad if I exposed your beauty in the blogosphere. ;) This comes once in a lifetime and I don't often visit Singapore. 

Please say hi and visit my friend's beautiful blog here.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Travel Diaries - See the stars, ride the movies

This is the second installment of my Singapore adventure. This time, I'm sharing my experience at Universal Studios Singapore (USS).

The best way to reach the theme park is through the train or MRT. Cheaper and faster than renting a expensive taxi cab. USS is found within the Sentosa hub. Hence, after a day in the USS, you can take advantage of the other tourist attractions in Sentosa.

It was a Sunday when we visited the USS. I know, bad decision. However, we don't have a choice since some of my companions are leaving on the same date. We anticipated this problem so we booked our ticket in advance. We purchased tickets online and it was a decision I will never regret. Let me detail why it's best to buy tickets online.

If you are a Master Card holder, you can avail of their discounted advanced booking. In addition to this, the advanced tickets come with a free meal voucher. I just don't know if this promotional offer is still available. When you purchase tickets online, USS will send you a confirmation email with the ticket's barcode. This will serve as your entry pass. The attendant will simply scan the ticket's bar code and that's it. No need to present your credit card, confirmation receipt and line up for verification.

We arrived in USS late. Hence, we were not able to watch the welcome presentation of the USS characters that starts at 10 am. So if you want to really maximize your USS adventure, I suggest that you arrive before the opening time. The Sentosa Monorail, which serves as the access to USS, tends to get crowded during the park's operating hours. Hence, arriving early can prevent you from this inconvenience. 

A Day in USS will never be complete without a photo with this famous globe

Tip: A lot of guests are crowding in this area to have their photo taken. Not all people realize that the other side of the globe has more space and lesser distractions. Haha

As you walk inside the theme park, you will be welcomed with a long street shielded by a fiber glass roof. Don't get fooled by this because the entire area is an open space. Prepare to experience the the scorching heat of the sun.

This is the first ride we tried.

One thing I noticed about USS is that each ride ends to a link in their gift and souvenir shop. Strategic?

This is the area where the afternoon parade happens. If you are looking forward for the parade, be sure to get a seat here.

Here are some pictures from the afternoon parade

The Cast of Madagascar
Jurassic Park

The Mummy

Caution: Be careful with this monster if you will be visiting the USS too. I won't tell you why.  Hihihi
 He is almost everywhere

We weren't able to try all the rides :( If you can afford the additional VIP pass, I would suggest to have it. However, if you prefer to avail of a few rides then proper scheduling can work for you.
One of the adventure rides we availed is the Transformers. Since it was a Sunday we anticipated the long line. True enough, we waited for more than an hour to finally experience the ride. 

Despite the long wait, we were treated with interesting items from the movie.

Not all rides in USS allow the use of camera. In the case of the Transformers, you can only take photos while waiting in line. 

This is not another ride adventure. The place is just ideal for picture taking. Haha

I love the bricks, cobblestone and for those who have watched Cedie and Princess Sara, you know what I mean. The place resembles the setting of the two cartoons. 

From the kingdom of Shrek

It was a long day at USS. We ended up shopping and being mesmerized by this
 Candy Crush!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Travel Diaries - I explored The Fine City

Singapore made it as my fourth country. In a few more years, I'm looking forward to add more. Hopefully! But before I daydream and google for my next country, I'm sharing my entire journey to Asia's Finest City. So expect a long and boring post ahead. :)

I booked my trip to Singapore in my favorite economy airline, Cebu Pacific. If you have been reading my blog, you might remember a preview of my booking confirmation last July 2012. I booked my trip eight months ahead because of the promo fares. I also wanted to force myself to save. Hence, booking a flight months before provided me ample time to gather my shopping travel funds.

Some of my friends would always discourage me to avail of economy airlines. They would always tell me, if I pay peanuts, I'm allowing myself to suffer from cheap services. True to some extent, but I really don't mind. After all, most of my destinations don't require long haul flights. Although I have a dream of traveling via business class, I guess that can wait. ;) For now, I can always settle with my limited budget.

Despite Cebu Pacific's negative reputation of having delayed flights and  inefficient services, the airline haven't failed me in my last three trips. In Taiwan, I was transported way ahead of time. In Hong Kong, my friends and I arrived just in time. I wanted to become a living supporter of Cebu Pacific, not until everything was ruined in my Singapore trip. It was my first time to experience more than an hour of flight delay. I experienced both problems in my arrival and departure schedules. My expected arrival time in Singapore is 4:45 pm. Since the flight was delayed, I arrived past 6 pm. I caused a lot of worries to my friend who fetched me from the airport. I really hope that Cebu Pacific will cooperate with the government to address the always overused excuse, air traffic.

Aside from the airline problem, I almost thought that I will not be allowed to leave my country. The local immigration officer pissed me off. In my past trips, I always smoothly pass the Immigration Officer's screening. I wasn't asked to present any other requirements. However, my Singapore trip gave me some unnecessary stress. I was suddenly asked to present my company ID. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my ID because I don't find it necessary. I also want to avoid the risk of losing it in another country. Hassle. Since I don't have my ID, I was asked to present other proof of employment. I showed my company provided business card and continued to interrogate me as if I'm planning to engage to an illegal venture. I felt insulted and humiliated. In the end, I guess my travel history saved me. My passport was finally stamped. 
I almost thought I wouldn't have you
My message to the Immigration Officer, you don't need to threaten and stress everyone to accomplish your job. And my advice to other travelers, please bring all possible company IDs to prove that you are employed, decently earning and have no plans of messing up your hard earned travel reputation. 

Contrary to my annoying experience, Singapore's Immigration Officer rendered a very quick service. No questions asked, the accommodating immigration officer stamped my passport with a smile. Thank you Madam.

After all the hindreances I encountered, I met my friend who adopted me in my entire stay in Singapore. I was spared from the hotel expenses. Thank you Ate Mitch! More than giving me free accommodation, Ate Mitch even treated me to my first meal in Singapore.

Toast Box! My welcome meal in SG
Toast Box is the best! I love the spicy Laksa and Iced Barley. We have Toast Box in the Philippines but they have a few branches and a bit expensive. If not because of my SG trip, I wouldn't have the chance to experience Toast Box.

I have four days to spend in Singapore. We originally planned to visit the Orchard, Singapore's famous shopping hub. However, since it was already too late, we went to Starbucks and took home my favorite souvenir.

I slept early to prepare myself from the anticipated tiring day at the Universal Studios Singapore (USS). Much of my first day was spent in USS. But let me reserve that in another post. What I intend to show here is my solo travel adventure. May I repeat, SOLO! Something happened and I was left out to explore Singapore on my own. Here are a few pictures of my perfect solo adventure.

Call me weird but I enjoyed my lone and quiet time in this bus stop

I always thought that Singapore is heavily occupied with buildings, establishments and different structures. I held on to this belief because the country occupies a very limited land area. Much to my surprise, Singapore has so many open spaces.  I took their MRT's red line and was surprised to discover areas that seem to look like an unexplored forest. I believe that the excellent urban planning made Singapore what it is today. I hate to say it but it looks like Singapore is more conducive for living than the always crowded and populated Manila.

If given the chance to work and stay longer in Singapore, I would take advantage of the parks that are very suitable for jogging. 

During my lone time in Singapore, I ensured that I will be able to take their Euro V compliant buses. Singapore is the first country in Southeast Asia to purchase the "green" or the environmentally friendly vehicles. Buses arrive on time and what I appreciate best is the absence of heavy traffic. It was a huge relief as I always battle this problem on the way to work.

Aside from buses, the best way to explore Singapore is through their efficient train or MRT. At first, I felt intimidated and confused with the different lines. But when I was already navigating the stations and the connecting lines, I realized that it everything was perfectly organized and systematized.

This free map provided in every station helped me a lot.

My solo journey in Singapore led me to the Orchard. I didn't explore the entire place because I went there the night before. Truth is, I just dropped by Ion Orchard to buy the blouse I spotted from H&M. Haha We don't have H&M in the Philippines so I have to ensure that I will have one in Singapore. When my shopaholic impulse was fulfilled, I headed to the famous Marina Bay Sands.

The Marina Bay Shoppes served as my entry point to Marina Bay. As soon as I reached the Shoppes' entrance, I was welcomed and mesmerized by the luxury shops such as Bvlgari, Cartier and Rolex. I don't have intentions of shopping or even entering their stores. The budget can never afford.Haha

Entrance to Marina Bay Shoppes
Just look at the glossy and illuminating floor tiles and intricate ceiling designs!

I walked further and I was treated to another showcase of magnificent architecture 

The mall provides a view of Singapore's equally picture perfect harbor. 

I was almost contented exploring the Marina Bay Shoppes not until I saw this towering escalator.

The signage relates that it serves as the link to the Gardens by the Bay. The Solo Traveler followed the signs and I was led to this

Heads up because

I finally saw up and close the famous  Marina Bay Sands Singapore.

I almost thought that the treat is over. I walked more to finally see the Gardens by the Bay

I hate to admit it but Gardens by the Bay can be better experienced during night time. I got myself toasted and roasted as I explore the place.

Tired from my own walkaton adventures, I headed to Marina Bay Sands for the last attraction, the Sky Park. 

The Sky Park provides guests an aerial view of Singapore's landscapes. The experience was great except for the SG $ 20 that needs to be shed out. 

My lens was able to capture the famous Louis Vuitton  island store

If you can stand the scorching heat of the sun, I recommend trying the Sky Park during day time. However, after my first time experience here, I believe that the Sky Park is best experienced late afternoon to evening.

After what seems to be an endless walkaton adventure, I headed inside the hotel to get my own decent photo.

I don't have problems of traveling alone. The only disadvantage is the difficulty of getting a perfect picture of yourself. Unless you have your own tripod or monopod, there are actually no problems. In my case, my solo travel attempt was an unexpected circumstance. I wasn't prepared and equipped. Fortunately, there are tourists and courteous employees who took time to answer my photo request. Otherwise, I would have ended up with a collection of this frustrating and pathetic photo.  

Nevertheless, I'm still proud and happy because I was able to see and explore Singapore on my own. Except for some occasional photo shots, I don't have to distract and bother other people to fulfill my dream.

My Singapore travel adventure is not yet over. There are more photos and experiences to share. On my next post, I'll write about my experience at Singapore's famous theme park.