After my first attempt to get a Korean visa in 2015 devastated me, I thought about spending the money I’d saved for Korea somewhere else, not throwing the five-day leave I got from work (and all the hype I had) into waste. It was one of those quick resolutions I came up with to heal a broken heart.
Literally less than a week before that, I found a relatively cheap flight to Singapore, a country I had never even thought about visiting in the early years of my ‘travel career’. Nevertheless, a few days later, I found myself in this small yet progressive city with nothing to look forward to except checking in my hostel at Lavender Street, which I also booked at the last minute.
Morning came on my first official day in Singapore and I spent all of it chatting some friends on Facebook who’d been here before about possible places to go to. With a map I got from the hostel and my handy digital camera (which everyone says is really cute), here are the places I got to visit on one afternoon walking from my hostel.
National Museum of Singapore
National Gallery Singapore
After serving myself some bread and milk for breakfast at the hostel lounge, I went back to my capsule room to do yet another round of research for what I could do this day. With some rough ideas, and again, my map and camera with me, I set off on foot to visit the following places.
Mount Faber Park
Today I decided to actually leave Singapore for a day and sail to a small Indonesian island nearby called Batam after knowing about it from one of the hostel staff, who happens to be a Filipina. The ferry ride took about 45 minutes and I reached the island just before lunch time. After I got out of the port, the feeling of being in a remote province in the Philippines hit me, only I had a about at least a hundred thousand worth of cash with me thanks to the conversion rate. A girl at the concierge handed me a map of the entire island and pointed out a few attractions I could visit within a day. Since public transport isn’t readily available in the island, I hired a taxi to take me to a few of them. Here they are.
Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall
Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Monastery
I made the worst decision of leaving my taxi after I got to the mall so, without the slightest idea of how far the temple would be from there, I took off walking with my map which leaves out any specific information on directions. I was basically walking along the roads like a chicken with its head cut off. I managed to find my last stop before realising I only had an hour to go back to the port to catch my ferry to Singapore. I ended up reaching the port on right on time, only to find out I was an hour early for the trip because of the time difference.
Thinking I had enough time to try to take an overnight train to Malaysia, I continued my journey from the south of the Singapore to the train station way up north.
I did get on the train to Johor Bahru in time (even after some problems with the immigration), however, I didn’t make it to the last train to Kuala Lumpur. This forced me to spend the next hours inside the train station, before heading out at about 2 or 3am to go to the bus station instead. Alas, I was on my way to Kuala Lumpur via a 6-hour bus ride. The country wasn’t as pedestrian friendly as Singapore as I would’ve liked, so I ended being able to visit just three places for the rest of the day.
Petronas Twin Towers
National Museum of Malaysia
The Lake Garden was just a few minutes walk to the central train station so I went there directly after sunset to book a ticket and get on my train back to Singapore. After spending the previous night almost sleepless, I collapsed into my berth and instantly dozed off.
I woke up to a misty Singapore which took away the last of my exhaustion from the last two days of running about. It was going to be the last day of my trip as I was scheduled to fly back to Manila around midnight. The hostel I’d previously stayed in welcomed me back and even let me take a shower as a non-paying guest this time. I figured I should spend the entire day in the city once more, and this time, with a companion I met during lunch at a nearby hawker centre.
With no specific intentions on that day, I decided to team up with him to pass some time. These were where I ended up.
Marina Bay Sands
Gardens by the Bay
After the day’s tour, we decided to hang out at Arab Street with another solo traveller from the hostel, before I rode a taxi to the airport to conclude my first solo, spontaneous trip abroad.