Singapore, Six Years After

If money weren't an issue, my other vice -- aside from buying and reading books -- would probably be travelling. I like exploring new cultures, seeing sights, meeting new people and buying tons of pasalubong. I feel blessed that my profession afforded me occasional business trips both locally and internationally, although the latter is not as often. My last out-of-the-country business trip was nearly six years ago in Bangalore, India. 

In my relatively few international trips, Singapore was always the transfer point. There was something about that country I fell in love with enough for me to swear a vacation trip someday. No matter how hard I planned and even with budget airlines teasing of reasonable rates, it never happened. Well, I did say money was an issue. So imagine my surprise that I was recently sent for a business trip to Singapore wherein I stayed longer than my previous travels. I swore to myself that I should be able to explore the country more. With the help of a couple of colleagues who were as equally game as I was, I did. I saw more of Singapore than I did in my previous visits combined. And boy, so much has changed. I was telling my officemates how Singapore was different now: Orchard Road looks busier and brighter, the MRT system got better with a few more lines added, the taxi cabs got classier (imagine seeing maroon-colored Chevys), and there was more to see this time around. I focused my explorations to a few things and I can definitely say, I did most of them and more:

- Catch the Harry Potter Exhibition at the Art and Science Museum, Marina Bay Sands: I had to literally run through the huge Marina Bay Sands mall since I arrived on its last day. Not only did I see it, I also included a side trip to the Andy Warhol one a few levels up.

- Eat at Lau Pa Sat: Me and my colleagues has several lunches there since it was very near where our training was held. I even saw some Filipino stalls in it. Tapa King Singapore was the highlight.

- Pay homage to Kinokuniya: I visited all 3 branches of this bookstore. Seriously. That's how much I love that place. I was able to visit other bookstores, MPH and Prologue. I love books so this is just expected. I took a lot of pictures of books with UK covers because they're not available here.

- Roam around Sentosa: And roam around I did: through the Sentosa Express, free buses and beach trams. The heat was blistering and I'm not a fan of walking under such conditions so the free transportation modes were lovely. I didn't go in any of the attractions -- they were too expensive -- but I did see Po. He waved at me and that made me feel happy.

- Taste Xiao Long Bao: Not once, but twice. I ate at two Din Tai Fung branches. One off the bucket list.

- See Clarke Quay: The place where I stayed was a quick stroll away from this busy area. Every night, Clark Quay lights up. I was treated to several performances of the awesome belly dancers in one its middle-eastern restaurants. There were a lot of street performers too.

- Visited Chinatown: Finally! The place was so vibrant since the Mooncake festival just concluded when I arrived. The Chinese lanterns were so pretty and there were lots of cheap stuff.

And so much more. I've been back for only a few days and I miss the country already. I came back with so much work to do but I feel different. Being removed from your usual environment can do wonders. So here's to you Singapore, thank you for welcoming me back with open arms and for making me wish to see you again soon. Hopefully not after six years. ;)


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