A few weeks ago, my family and I had the chance to go on a short vacation in Singapore.

Singapore is south of the Philippines, nearer to the equator, which makes its climate warmer than ours.

Flight from Manila took 3 hours and it was all our first time in this so-called “Little Red Dot”, also referred to as the “Lion City”.  It was a brief 5-day stay but each day had a full itinerary and at least one must-go-to destination.

Here’s how we planned out and maximized our stay in the city:

Day 1:  Day of Arrival;  We settled in at our hostel and went to Marina Bay Sands Theatre to watch the broadway hit musical “Wicked”.  This day was dedicated to Arielle, who loves theatre…watching musicals and being in it!

  

The show was awesome! After the show, on our way back to our hostel, we were able to see for ourselves for the first time, what a hawker center is.

A hawker center is basically a group of food stalls.

Day 2:  It’s Kayla’s day, being an animal-lover that she is. We spent the whole day walking at Singapore Zoo and the night, at the Night Safari!  It’s a good thing that we had opted to ride a tram in the Night Safari.  We were sooo tired from all the walking that we did at the zoo!

Singapore Zoo occupies a big land area and animals are healthy, well-fed and well-taken care of.

 

White Tiger

The Lion King!

 

An orangutan easily husking a coconut with her bare hands

 

Feeding an elephant

 

Feeding a giraffe

 

This is our female elephant, Gambe. She’s about 25 years old, born in the wild in Malaysia.

Day 3:  By this day, we had already learned how to commute in Singapore, and so, we hopped from one place to another, taking the MRT and buses around the city.  We went to the Science Center, walked next door to Snow City, moved to Albert “hawker” center, and checked out the Bugis market area which is similar to our Divisoria.  The famous Merlion tourist photo op landmark couldn’t be missed, too, where we also had the chance to watch and enjoy the Lights and Water show across the Marina Bay Sands in the evening. To even add to this day’s already full schedule, for dinner, we went out of our way to try the famous Singapore Chili Crab at a restaurant called “No Signboard”.

Commuting in Singapore was easy and safe.

 

Inside the Science Center

 

At Science Center

 

Tea Tarek, Kopi Teh, Milo Dinosaur, Horlicks Ice at Albert Center

 

Fish Lor Mee, much like our “lomi”

Singapore white pepper chili crab at No Signboard

 

At the Merlion Park

Lights and Water show

Day 4:  We enjoyed the rides and sensory-overload experience at Universal Studios.  It was still a fun thing to do with the kids even if we had already gone to the one in Los Angeles.  Again, it was like forgetting the real world for a while and stepping into a magical place full of thrill and excitement!  Theme parks is a great venue to bond with your kids, see and enjoy things as they would.

Kayla and Mike up there!

Day 5:  Our last day in the city was a Sunday.  We made it a point not to forget our Catholic obligation to hear mass.  Even if we were all already totally exhausted by this day, with our legs, feet, and backs aching, we managed to get up and attend the 9:00 am mass at the Church of the Sacred Heart.  With still a couple of hours in our hands before our flight back to Manila, we went to leisurely see the famous Orchard Road, and eat lunch at another hawker center in Newton.

What we did as first-time visitors in Singapore may sound quite ordinary and very common, but there’s always something new to learn in every new travel destination, be it local or overseas.  From the packing to airport-to-airplane procedures and manners, it was a whole learning experience from beginning to end, especially for our girls.  That is why, as a family, we try, whenever possible, to plan our vacations to places where we get a chance to experience something NEW and DIFFERENT each time.

So much is to be remembered from this trip!  It had made such an impact to our girls that Arielle now dreams of studying college there to pursue a course in Digital Arts or Animation.  She liked the city so much she thinks she can study there and be independent.  Kayla saw how clean the city was, the cars and buses well-maintained, and  that smoke-belching was totally non-existent. She now wonders if the “discipline” can be implemented in the Philippines.  After tasting, too, the Hainanese Chicken Rice and the Kaya toast, she was able to give her taste buds a different gustatory experience :).  The soft-boiled eggs Mike and I usually have for breakfast at Toast Box with our kaya toast and kopi made her think how the eggs come out soft and almost-looking fresh but without that eggy after-taste.  She still holds on to her dream of becoming a chef in the future!

Travel is really one of the best teachers one could have.  It’s a whole new experience and definitely hands-on!  The culture.  The cuisine.  The lifestyle.  The language.  Listening to how the locals talk. The government system and policies. Talking to people.  Seeing them on the road.  Watching how they prepare the food and eat them.  Taking the different modes of transportation available.  The list could go on…

What’s wonderful about traveling as a family is we always find ourselves engaged in lively discussions, comparing notes about what we see around us, how different or similar they are to what we do, and with how it is back in our home country.  It is a very good venue to do some critical and creative thinking 🙂

We all enjoyed our Singapore trip and hope to go back.  There is still so much to discover and explore, and I would say, so much to learn from the Singaporeans.