Day 1: Singapore welcomes you!

I actually had this drafted last year but I wanted to include pics as well…which I was finally able to upload now -.- so yeah… 🙂

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“So easy to enjoy, so difficult to forget”

That (or something like that) is one of Singapore’s “tagline” and it is so true! This was me enjoying it (and me not forgetting it)

The following took place on Monday, 26th October 2009 :-

It was 10.10am when we landed. We peered out of the airplane window and the words “Changi International Airport” peered back at us. I thought of whipping out the camera to snap a picture of the words on the terminal building but decided to wait till we landed and walked on the tarmac instead. Afterall, it would be a lot more “personal” if I was in the picture and the words were in the background. 😉

(Un)fortunately(?), we were “parked” at one of the gates in the other terminal buildings (that was when we realized how HUGE the airport was!) so we were out of sight of the words and although we were using an AirAsia flight, we did not need to walk the tarmac but was greeted by an aerobridge, which was very well-padded! The carpet was so thick that we felt our feet sink into it! But once we were inside the terminal building, I soon forgot we were at an airport. It was really HUGE and oh-so-awesome!

We didn’t spend a lot of time there though as we were eager to get to our hotel and begin our exploration of the Island Republic.

Leaving the airport, we took in the sights of the city – the high-rise buildings, some of the famous landmarks (like the Singapore Flyer) and the overall developed city feel. We were using the airport shuttle straight to our hotel’s front steps and it cost just SD9/pax!

This was our accommodation throughout our stay in Singapore: Hotel 81 Dickson.


Hotel 81 is a hotel chain that provides the cheapest hotel rooms in Singapore and the rooms are not bad either! This is the standard room and it cost just SD79/night:-

Yes, the bathroom wall is translucent! >:D

Due to the efficient transport, we arrived at the hotel at almost noon, a bit too early to check-in, so we left our luggage at the “concierge” (just at the lobby actually) and went to grab lunch. This was the first time in Singapore for both of us and apart from a “tentative travel itinerary” I had prepared a few weeks earlier (based on some Singapore Tourism Board (STB) pamphlets I had borrowed from a colleague) we knew nothing about Singapore and how to get around. But we were eager to explore and learn the ropes (and maybe get lost trying).

So we left the hotel and proceeded to the main road and right across the road was Sim Lim Tower! We were so pleased because we heard this was the place to get “cheap electronic gadgets”. But when we arrived there, we were so disappointed! It’s not that the gadgets weren’t as cheap as we expected. It’s because there was not much gadgets or anything else in there! It was plain…small. Thinking that STB made a mistake in recommending it, we made our way out. And that was when we saw it. A huge building across the road, with the huge words “Sim Lim Square” written on it and in smaller font “electronic lifestyle mall” (or words to that effect) below it. That was when we realised we were the ones who were mistaken (and learnt not to doubt STB’s recommendations after that!) LOL.

We checked into our room at almost 2pm, freshened up and proceeded our exploration of the Lion City. Our hotel was strategically walking distance away from 2 MRT stations (that was why we chose it in the first place) and we made our way to the first – Bugis – and just going to the MRT station was an adventure in itself! In actuality, the station was only about 10 to 15mins walk away from our hotel, but due to our experience with maps (or lack thereof) we ended up taking twice the time. Haha. But no harm done since we actually took a “scenic route” that allowed us to pass by/through some tourist spots/malls like The Verge, Ilumina, Bugis Street and Bugis Village to name a few. One reason we had difficulty in finding the station was because we kept looking upwards for train tracks as a sign we were near the station. It was only when we arrived at Bugis Junction did we realize that the MRT station was actually underground! LOL.

After we made it to Bugis MRT station, we just needed to figure out how to use the MRT. Observing what the locals did and inquiring at the ticketing counter, we didn’t take too long to find out how the system worked and were soon onboard the train and heading for City Hall MRT station. Alighting at City Hall, we exited at RafflesCity Mall and went all around it looking for the complimentary shuttle that should take us to Suntec City, Milennia Walk and the Singapore Flyer. We didn’t see any shuttle or bus stop nearby for that matter, so we asked a lady working at one of the eating places near the entrance of RafflesCity where to get said shuttle but she didn’t know either. However, she gave us a very useful information – she said we could actually WALK to Suntec City! And that was exactly what we did, all via underground channels! We passed through the bellies of Millenia Walk Mall and arrived at Suntec City Mall and Convention Centre.

This was the reason we went to Suntec City Mall: The Fountain of Wealth.

It is located at the roundabout in the centre of 5 towers which make up the whole Suntec plaza. Unfortunately, it appeared as if the fountain was under renovation when we got there. We had “tea-break” at FoodRepublic in Suntec City while waiting for the 5pm “Ducktours”.

The “Ducktours” is basically a sightseeing tour of the City both on land and on water. The best thing about this tour is, you don’t have to leave your seat! Yep, our “on land” and “on water” vehicle is the same vehicle – an amphibious vehicle, one of the many ex-military vehicles that can travel on land and on water. How awesome is that?

We got to see more famous landmarks like the Esplanade and Merlion Park we got to know more details on the history and culture of Singapore from our friendly tour guide as she gave live commentaries throughout our 1 hour tour (which cost SD33/pax).

Back at Suntec City we took awhile to re-admire the Fountain of Wealth and Suntec plaza as our “Ducktours” guide gave us new-found awe for the whole design of the fountain and 5 towers. The design was actually based on the open palm ie. 4 of the towers are the fingers and the shorter tower was the thumb, with the fountain in the centre symbolizing “recieving” good fortune – guess that’s why the fountain was upside down too! Awesome!

After that we traced our way back to City Hall MRT. We exited at RafflesCity again but this time made our way to CHIJMES across the road from it. This used to be an orphanage but now the grounds are filled with fine dining restaurants, bars and shops.

The church was awesome!

By the time we got out from CHIJMES it was kinda dark already and the view of the City was awesome!

And we went to the Raffles Hotel Arcade just between RafflesCity and CHIJMES.

(rafless hotel arcade)

And then we made our way back to Bugis MRT. We had dinner at Food Junction in Bugis Junction, there was a fountain inside that actually spelled “Welcome to Singapore” when light shone through it! We passed through Bugis Street and went back to our hotel and called it a day well spent.

(To be continued…)

Up next: Day 2: Exploring Sentosa

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