My experience of Singapore is a bit ironic in that I’ve been to this city-state three times but only in transit. The short stays I’ve spent in Singapore, however, did not stop me from seeing the city’s beauty and experiencing its culture.
Since Singapore is a developed country, flights coming here go to more destinations (compared to flights coming from the Manila). This, aside from the fact that Singapore is located at the heart of Southeast Asia, making it an excellent stop over. This is why a lot of airlines (like the ones I’ve flown with) transit in Changi Airport.
First and Second Touchdown
The first and second time that I was in Singapore was on the way to and from Bali, Indonesia for the 3rd University Scholars Leadership Symposium last August 2012. We had to transit in Changi Airport since my Ateneo co-delegates and I flew Singapore Airlines. Going to Bali, we had to stop by Singapore for four hours.
Due to our limited time, we did not risk going out of the airport and exploring the city. Thankfully, Changi had sites of its own.
At the transfer terminal, we met two airport guides (one of which is a Filipina) who willingly toured us around. They stayed with us until it was time for our flight. They even went to lunch with us and helped us carry some of our luggage!
Changi Airport was beautiful. Each of its three terminals had different attractions. We went around the terminal using the Skytrains. We were able to visit the Butterfly Garden, mini-Museums, gardens, the swimming pool, shops and many more. Our group actually got tired just going around the airport. By the time we were on the flight to Bali, all of us just dosed off in the plane.
My second time in Singapore was on the way home to Manila. Our group, however, did not have the time to go around and buy souvenirs in Changi because our flight got moved earlier due to the bad weather conditions in Manila (this was during the Habagat floods). After going down from our first flight, we immediately boarded our flight going home.
Everything in Changi is quite expensive. This is, of course, because Changi is an airport and prices in all the airports I’ve been to have prices twice as much as the average cost outside.
I would say that Changi in itself is an attraction because of the convenience it offers travelers who are just passing by.
The next time that I had to transit in Singapore was on the way to Kuching City, Sarawak, Malaysia for International Youth Cultural Conference. This time, I was smart enough to book my connecting flight eight hours after my arrival in Singapore.
My friend and I were supposed to take the free city tour from Changi. We, unfortunately, missed it since we had to go through immigration in order to get our luggage (We did not get the same airline for the connecting flight).
Thankfully, we were from ASEAN so we were exempted from paying the transit visa. After the immigration (which was really fast), we went to a tourism booth. The lady who instructed us on which places to visit was really friendly. She gave us a map and directed us to the left luggage area. After paying some SGD 3.00 (around PHP 90.00) to have our luggage kept at the airport, we were off to see the city!
Singapore in Three Hours
We took the train from Changi Airport to Raffle’s Station. After walking passed a few buildings, we found ourselves in one of the national symbols of Singapore, the Merlion Park.
Being typical Filipinos, we took a lot of photos with the Merlion. After which, we decided to eat in the restaurant beside the Merlion. My friend ordered satay (around SGD 15.00) while I ordered a hotdog sandwich (around SGD 8.00). After eating, we took some more photos in the park and went on.
We passed through Esplanade bridge going to Esplanade Theaters on the Bay. After taking some more photos, we decided to take another break in the Freedom Park. We ended our walkabout in the Raffles City Shopping Center, where all we were able to do was to window shop. After a few minutes inside the mall, we decided to go back to Changi.
Singapore is a very clean and modernized city. At a glance, you can see the level of professionalism and competitiveness of people. Everyone is in business or work mode.
A funny anecdote I had in Singapore was while we were resting in the Freedom Park. Due to my impulse, I got a cigarette stick out of my pocket and was about to light it. Thankfully, Kim stopped me and reminded me that I was in a city where smoking is only allowed in designated places. I was so ashamed and nervous just thinking that I could have been caught.
Even if I’ve been to Singapore three times, I know that I haven’t seen everything it has to offer yet. Definitely, this city deserves a fourth visit.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!