August 3, 2016

Solo Travel Diary: Singapore

Well hello.

So. Haven't blogged in AGES. This time around I wanted to document my first (sort of) solo travelling, so here I am again!

Day 1: Friday

Flight scheduled at 11.50am. Mum drove me to the airport in the morning and there I met up with two of my friends who I was going to accompany in Asia Arts Festival on Sunday. We booked different flights so we parted after immigration check. I was quite chill and duty free shopping and taking my time with my breakfast UNTIL I took out my boarding pass and took note of the boarding time. I ran to my gate (it was one of the furthest gates oh man) to come to realise that my flight was to be delayed by half an hour. Lesson learnt: breakfasts in the airport are not meant for enjoying.

I have to say I was pretty lucky as I got a window seat AND the seat beside me was empty. Anyone who had flown on "Everyone Can Fly" before would know that the seats aren't particularly spacious. To be able to have an empty seat beside me was a blessing until I realised I didn't bring a pen on board to fill in the card needed for immigration purpose. The other nearest person to me was a Singaporean so I doubted he would have a pen. Couldn't believe though, that I actually managed to pass through immigration with a pencil-filled card. Lesson no. 2 learnt: always include a pen in your packing list.

Soon after I touched down Changi Airport I was delighted to find that my friends who landed almost an hour earlier had stuck around and waited for me. At the airport we got ourselves a wifi router from Travel Recommends (do pre-book as they run out fairly quickly) as well as a three-day Singapore Tourist Pass (not cheap but SUPER USEFUL) which were both life savers for our trip. We had lunch in the airport (I had mine in the plane), took the MRT heading to the city center and parted to check in our respective houses. (FYI: We were staying in different homes but we all booked through Airbnb which was an absolute penny-saver in a high cost of living place like Singapore. Use my code PEIXUANW1 when you sign up on Airbnb to receive a RM90 voucher! If you're interested in where I stayed in Singapore just drop me a message I'll be more than happy to talk to you about it).

My Airbnb host was super helpful and informative. The room was great and the location was perfect! Bloopers: I locked my suitcase and was so close to not being able to open it in the room! During the process of frantically trying to force it open all sorts of thoughts ran through my head - can I survive without opening it? (NO) Where can I get someone to open it? (I DON'T KNOW) As I was panicking alone in the room thankfully with some luck I managed to open it. Here's one thing about travelling alone: if you're in some sort of trouble you just have to find a way to solve it 'cause no one ain't gonna be there for you.

My room was two streets behind Orchard so naturally I would seize the opportunity to hang around there. For dinner I opted for a miserable bowl of wonton noodles in a fancy Chinese restaurant in one of the malls that costed me $9, so frustrated me went down to the street to buy my all time favourite $1.20 ice-cream-waffle thing (if anyone knows what this is called, do let me know!). Lesson no. 3 learnt: never EVER eat in malls on Orchard, until the day I can afford to (without killing myself after).

Day 2: Saturday

Walking back from Orchard on Friday night I passed by this street called Killiney Road that got me searching on Google about it. Turns out it was a pretty decent road for food (both price as well as taste) so I headed straight up there for my brunch.

Did I mention most of the MRT stations in Singapore were built within a mall or if not, walking distance to a mall? This convenience had absolutely satisfied the shopaholic in me. The nearest MRT station to my room was Somerset which was right inside 313 @ Somerset (my all time F.A.V.O.U.R.I.T.E mall and I'm not even exaggerating - my pick for clothes shopping would include TEMT and The Editor's Market which are both not present in KL!) so before heading down to practice I had a quick shop in the mall. I don't normally use this word but the sneaker outlet pictured above called Limited Edt Vault was absolutely DOPE. Look how even a middle-aged lady was attracted to the beautiful array of sneakers! Too bad I didn't bring enough cash to reward myself.

Oh also, lesson no. 4 learnt: rompers, jumpsuits and dresses are your best friend when travelling!

A trip to Singapore could not be more complete without a visit to Marina Bay Sands. Prices of literally everything there was over the top but I must say I had heap loads of memories stored there. It was a Saturday evening, the crowd was understandably crazy. Wanted to enter the Arts and Science museum, too many people; wanted to visit the Dome in the garden, the queue was never-ending and within the Dome it was sardine-packed people; even to get a place to sit down and chill was a huge challenge and practically impossible without a wait, unless you're up to food court food I suppose. I met up with my college mate Shiwei (hi Shiwei if you're reading this!), who was coincidentally in Singapore too, but all we could do was to roam around the place and window shop. Lesson no. 5 learnt: if you're serious about visiting the many attractions in MBS, always PRE-BOOK YOUR TICKETS and try to make it on a weekday to steer away from the crowd.

In the end we ended up paying $23 to rise to the Skypark observation deck and boy oh boy, I may not ever go up there again but the night view surpassed all my expectations and was extraordinarily stunning! The pictures over here are doing absolutely no justice to what I was able to see with my naked eyes.

After the MBS visit my friends and I went to Serangoon, a more residential side of Singapore to have a taste of some of the famous hawker stall food in the country. I was so hungry that I dived in straight away when the food arrived hence no "wait I take pictures first" moments that night. Going back to the room alone at night was an eye-opening experience for me on how well-planned the public transport system was in Singapore. But I still have to say though, the insecurity in me was bugging me right until I returned to my room. It was a feeling of danger I had never experienced before and I guess it was what makes this trip a true solo travelling trip.

Day 3: Sunday

Did an early check out and the housekeeper was nice enough to let me leave my luggage in the house. Headed to my friend's place to do up my makeup in preparation of the competition later in the afternoon. Not going to elaborate much on the competition but the crowd in Sentosa was as crazy (or maybe even crazier) than the one in MBS. We took the Sentosa Express going into Sentosa Island but coming out the queue was shocking beyond description. Thankfully John found out that there was a bus that could take us out of the island for free that we escaped the queue! Lesson no. 6 learnt: take the bus from VivoCity to Sentosa - it only costs $1 and the queue was much more humane, as opposed to the $4 Sentosa Express which I refuse to recall the situation in the train.

Travelling back from Sentosa I still had a fair bit of time so I went to Somerset for a last shopping spree and to pick up my luggage. I have to say I really enjoyed shopping alone, without the pressure of someone potentially being bored beside me! Had dinner at the same place as I had breakfast on Saturday. Initially I wanted to try another seem to be more famous kopitiam on the same road but sadly it was closed. Will definitely return there on my next Singapore trip!

I booked a midnight flight back to KL and I was yet again being blessed as some of the friends I got to know during the competition were in the same flight as me! Better still, our seats were on the same row so I had an accompanied trip back. On the plane we experienced a pretty bad turbulence that got one of my friends in tears, but I am really grateful that here I am safe and sound typing this blog entry. Last lesson learnt: midnight flights are horrible and I would do anything in the future to avoid them.

All in all it was a fun-filled experience and I would totally do solo travelling again, that's if my financial and safety conditions are well fulfilled. There are times that you will feel lonely in your bed (I texted a lot more back home than I usually would, parents are always the best!) but all the lessons learnt and the experiences gained were more than rewarding! Till the next trip, goodbye for now.

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