Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Singapore Diaries: Epilogue

The Finest Country

February 12, 5:25PM

My journey started in Plaridel Airport, Bulacan. My flight was scheduled to leave Manila at around 5:30AM the following day. Luck has been on my side when I saw a bus bound for Pasay City. That would be less stressful since it's nearer to the airport. The rush hour traffic wasn't really bad too! Since I have eight hours to kill in NAIA Terminal 2, I did some catch-ups with my closest friends, scored more than a hundred fifty in Flappy Bird and reconfirmed my ticket.

I tried to sleep, but I couldn't. As the schedule of my flight drew nearer, I couldn't help but to feel excited and nervous at the same time. It seemed that all known species of butterflies and birds were fluttering inside my stomach. Traveling abroad in the Philippines is considered taboo to some especially in a country ruled by strict yet unnecessary immigration rules and processes. At three in the morning, I met up with my travel buddy, paid the terminal fee and passed the immigration process.

Little did I know that my second international trip would be a blast.

Unlike my Kota Kinabalu trip, which entailed a lot of adventures in the pristine beaches, Malaysian cuisine, and mosques, I was not expecting something grand in my Singapore trip. Given that the S$525 budget was just enough for four days, I thought I wouldn't really enjoy it because honestly, traveling on a shoestring budget isn't my thing. All I wanted was to become part of the Singapore Airshow 2014. That mattered most prior the trip. If I weren't a die hard fan of aviation, I wouldn't probably visit Singapore in the first place. It wasn't even part of my bucket list until late last year!

My notions changed the moment I stepped out of the plane. The terminal, which was older than me, seemed brand new. Never in my life did I see such grandeur and sophistication in an airport terminal. Everything was organized. It actually looked like a mall! My fascination about this country got bigger as we drove our way to our hostel located in Chinatown. The roads were clean, the drivers obey the local traffic rules, and there were no signs of litter on the street. As a matter of fact, the country was so clean and organized that it made me uncomfortable for the first few hours. Despite that, I tried to embrace it. I repeatedly told myself that this is what a first world country looks like. This is how Philippines should look like. I was pretty much careful with the things I do since the country is known for its numerous laws. Anyone caught violating will pay a hefty fine. I don't have any plans to pay $500 just because I ate a piece of candy.

Downtown Singapore

Arrival Hall of Changi International Airport

Happy Chinese New Year!

Singapore skyline at night.

Because I only have limited time, we hastily toured some major tourist attractions of Singapore like the cable car, Sentosa Island, Luge Skyride, Resorts World, and Universal Studios. At some point of our trip, we got lost in translation and direction. Sometimes, you need to speak Lahlahlese (also known as "Cancanlese" to some) to the locals to avoid miscommunication.

My Singaporean experience wouldn't be complete without trying their local dishes. In all fairness, I love Singaporean food. Their dishes were of Malaysian-Chinese-Indian mix. They have a distinct smell and taste which I really, really loved. I never liked Pansit Canton Guisado (except for the ready-to-eat ones), but when I tried their version of it, I finished one platter of it in just one sitting. And when in Singapore, don't dare miss Tian Tian's Chicken Rice in Maxwell Road Hawker Centre. I had two rounds of it and it was the most gluttonous night I have ever had! Even Anthony Bourdain highly recommended it. True enough, the diversity of Singapore's culture can be clearly seen (and tasted) in their local dishes.

Inside the cable car.

Another view of Chinatown.

Attending the Singapore Airshow 2014!

Singaporean Lemon Iced Tea.

This particular trip was an eye-opener to me. People here religiously follow the rules and regulations of their country. Violating one is already considered a mortal sin. History had taught us that this country wasn't powerful and affluent half a century ago. With great political will, Singapore had soared high, making it one of the richest and most powerful countries not just in Asia, but in the whole world. I have realized that if people just simply follow the rules imposed by their leaders, and if the leaders have no bad intentions in ruling their particular jurisdiction, chances of progress would be high. Of course, there were other factors that contributed to Singapore's success but I chose not to elaborate it here at the risk of having a TLDR (too long, didn't read) post.

This particular trip had almost drained my resources but I had no regrets. The joys of living in a first world country for a short period of time was totally a new experience. Unexpectedly, I had fun. I was there with my fellow AVGeeks not just to enjoy the airshow but also to experience the unique lifestyle of Singaporeans.

I couldn't help myself but to feel sad when we finally left Singapore. It was definitely not easy to let go of a beautiful experience.

Singapore, you were unexpectedly beautiful amazing!

I shall return.

Read more of my Singapore adventures here.

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