Though we were deprived early of our parents, here we are, growing bigger in numbers slowly but surely. Family is family, no matter what.
I know it’s been a while since my last post and I’m sorry for the delay. I remember promising myself that when I go back to blogging, I will make sure that I won’t let a month go without at least a single post of some sort but that hasn’t been the case now has it? There is no other excuse but the plain old boring “I have been busy with work”. I wish that it was something like “I have been travelling a lot that I couldn’t find a window for my blog” or “I have been partying so hard that I am always too wasted or hung over to write”. Luckily, I had the chance to take a holiday and fly to my family to Singapore. This trip has been booked since last year as my brother and his wife wanted us to be present for my nephew’s christening and of course, we gladly obliged. Sadly, this trip may very well be the only highlight of my 2015 (I surely hope not). So I told myself to make it as worth while as possible. This was the first time we flew Jetstar and we were not aware of the horror stories about this airline. It was weird that their site has a web check in option but my sister, who booked our trip, could not do the check in online. Also, they require that the credit card used to pay for the booking to be presented upon check in. This I found to be very inconvenient. Anyway, we just decided to turn a blind eye on their inadequacy so as not to ruin our trip and what can you expect from a budget flight, right? For more horror stories, you may click on this website. The only upside on the flight is that they partnered with StarHub, a local network in Singapore, offering a free prepaid sim card which I can avail of specific telco plans. Upon arrival, I presented the StarHub flyer I got on the plane at the UOB counter and availed their data plan that covers me for 5 days. It cost only S$15 which I thought was a very good deal, and indeed it was. This was my first trip abroad that I was connected the whole time and worry free of bill shock from my Philippine network at that.
Since we chose the cheapest flight, we got an odd schedule and arrived in Singapore around 1am. Upon reaching my brother’s home we said our quick hellos to my in laws and for the first time, to my nephew. We decided to retire to bed right away as we know we have a busy schedule ahead of us.
A Different Shopping Experience
I was aware that the Great Singapore Sale (GSS) was ongoing so we requested that we visit the malls on our first day. This is also because we wanted our trip to be chill and relaxed. It was a bit of a disappointment for me though because the shops that I was expecting to offer big discounts weren’t so generous with their sale then. We ended up just having lunch and window shopping.
The highlight of the day was our trip to Singapore’s popular farmer’s market called PasarBella. As their site explains it, the name is derived from the local term for market and the Italian term for beautiful. And indeed the place was beautiful.
Upon entering the premises you will feel a different kind of energy flow. It’s like a world where stunning trade goods are showcased and sold. The selection of the goods is very diverse. Here, one can find those rare jewellery boxes you see in movies, or that mood setting scented candle or maybe even that specialty store selling quality balloons. Really a good breather from that usual commercial way of shopping. If shopping is not your thing, then there’s still something for you at PasarBella which in my opinion, is way better, EATING!
PasarBella boasts of several artisanal food merchants. It’s so easy to get confused where to start. Since we just had lunch, we settled to get light snacks and dessert. My brother went for an authentic grilled cheese sandwich at the Melt Bar (IG @themeltbar) and I tried out the Pomegranate cake at a Russian inspired boutique bakery called Laman’s Delight (IG @lamansdelight). I have to admit, this was the first authentic, premium quality grilled cheese sandwich that I have ever tasted. And the cake, it was heaping with pomegranate seeds that literally bursts in your mouth with every bite. I noticed that as I got older, I developed a penchant for cakes with fruit in them. I just love that sourness that cuts the sweetness of the icing and filling of the cake. It’s refreshing! This is where we ended our first day, having decided that we will rest early to prepare for a big day the next day which is my nephew’s christening.
Feeling defeated from the first day, we decided to go to Changi City Point Mall, which is the nearest outlet mall from my brother’s place, to do some shopping. We have had success on our last travel here scoring some sneakers, clothes, and cheap chocolates. Since the baptism was scheduled in the afternoon, we had time to shop and dine the early part of the day. And just like last time, this mall didn’t disappoint. The grand plan was to score some cool sneakers, maybe a Nike Airmax or a 574 from New Balance. I went inside the New Balance store and immediately my attention was caught by a pair of maroon 430s. Naturally I asked the sales guy for my size but unfortunately, the only one left was the display. You see I have this thing of wanting to buy only new stocks because the thought of wearing something that has been tried out and worn by several strangers creeps me out. I mean, who’s to guarantee that every person who tried them out didn’t have athlete’s foot? No thank you!!! Also, display items tend to fade and get worn out. You will see this when you ask for the other half of the shoe and compare the pair. So what did I do?
I asked for a different color and good thing they have my size in green. Not my first choice but still a good buy at 35% off, I’m sure you’ll agree. This time, I did not feel the urge to buy clothes for some reason. Maybe it’s because at the back of my mind I was thinking that I brought too many clothes already and there is no more space in my luggage. Or maybe, I was saving for a another purchase in the coming days. Let’s see. We had our little lunch there before going home and prep for my nephew’s introduction to the christian world.
The Christening was held at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour which was a few minutes away from the home. It was a simple church that held well organized ceremonies evidently. There were 6 babies to be baptized that afternoon and the godparents of each child had a part in the ceremony. It turns out, there were seminars that the participants had to attend prior to the day. So the ceremony went swimmingly.
After the ceremony we headed to the reception which was a Filipino restaurant called Calle Real. I believe it was named after the now heritage zone in Iloilo. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong, hehe. Apparently, the restaurant is closed on Sundays but they were open that day to cater to our private function.
The restaurant was very clean and homey. Perfectly decorated for the event. And the food, divine! They served Filipino food of course. It appeared that the guests enjoyed the food very much because it’s not everyday that they get to eat good authentic home made Pinoy dishes, I would imagine. Well at least I can speak for myself. I’ve only been here two days and I’m craving for Pinoy food already.
My cute nephew Tyrel. I’ve only seen this lil’ rascal in photos sent by my brother and his wife via our chat group on whatsapp. Finally, I got to hug and kiss him. He’s soooo cute! I don’t care what other people think, to me, my nephews Keanne and Tyrel are the cutest.
A Different Perspective
Due to some connections, my youngest brother managed to get us an overnight stay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel on a discount. This was one of the things I looked forward to on this trip. I’ve seen a couple of my friends post photos of their stay at this hotel and the common denominator is that it all looked amazing. Upon entering our room, we were greeted by this spectacular view. Keanne couldn’t help but look out of the window. I could just stay in this room and stare out.
I know that it is a staple to have photos taken at the Skypark especially in the pool but I purposely did not post any so as to avoid making you guys vomit from seeing my naked body, hehe. Aside from the Skypark, Marina Bay Sands (MBS) boasts of its shops, especially their Louis Vuitton store that has its own viewing deck.
Just to be clear, no, I did not buy anything at the store. No budget for an LV bag for now haha! I just checked it out and I was blown away. I heard there are far better LV stores but for now, this was the best one I have been to so far.
For a change, we went to chinatown for dinner. I was curious to see what it looked like. As my friends know, I enjoy my occasional trips to Binondo in the Philippines. I wondered what they had to sell at bargain prices here.
Their version of chinatown was cleaner, which is to be expected already. It’s more organized but it had the same vibe as any other chinatown, I guess. A lot of the items on sale were travel items like bag tags, passport holders and the likes. To be honest, I didn’t find anything interesting. But at least my sister was able to buy some accessories.
There were a wide variety of food to choose from. It was kind of hard to decide what to buy. I ordered for us the usual peking duck and yang chow fried rice. While my brother got us sting ray, a local delicacy. Always a good idea to go Asian for dinner.
Going Green – Singapore Botanic Gardens
Since we’ve been to SG a couple of times already we thought of going to places we haven’t been to before. Even my youngest brother who lives here hasn’t gone to The Singapore Botanic Gardens so it was an easy choice for our last day tour.
Can you believe we walked 1.2 kilometers under the sun from the entrance to the National Orchid Garden? We had no idea how far it was and there was no turning back. It was quite an experience. It’s a good thing I appreciate the greens around me. I love the plants, flowers and trees. There were even squirrels running around. I have to say I was a little excited to see it since we don’t have it in the Philippines.
It was so hot that day that the perfect way to end it was with this serving of ice cream and sorbet! Very refreshing! It gave us the boost we needed to walk another 1 kilometer to the exit of the garden.
It was a jampacked trip but all was well. At the end of the day, all the tour, eating, and shopping are just the icings on the cake. What’s most important to me was reconnecting with the other half of our family who are based here. We are growing in numbers in the Philippines and they, here in Singapore as well. With our parents having gone too soon, we have realized the importance of each member of our small family. It’s too bad that none of them got to meet any of their grand kids but we all hold on to the faith that they are happy where they are right now and are smiling down from the heavens. No matter where we are, family is family. And we love each other no matter what.
photos – Julius Megia, Grabs from Tyrel’s baptism and author’s own; new balance photo – Zalora