One Big Move, One Year Later (Singapore)

I went on my first solo travel in 2013. Without any itinerary and just relying on the little knowledge that blogs and websites provided me with, I braved the Northern Mountain Provinces of the Philippines by myself. It was the first of many and how it changed my life was a different story altogether. Click here to read about it.

Three years down the road with quite a number of experiences in solo travels, befriending strangers, and getting lost in an unfamiliar place, I went from embarking on adventures with just my backpack and budget roundtrip plane tickets to fitting my whole life in a 30kg baggage limit and a one-way plane ticket. 

On 7 January 2016, I moved to Singapore.

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Of all the places, I chose to move to the most expensive city in the world. What was I thinking?


HOMEY

It was a scary thought. Packing my bags and leaving it all behind. Leaving a job I loved, leaving my family who I always had with me, and leaving my friends who I could easily run to for anything.

It was leaving home behind.

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So imagine my surprise that never, not even once, did I feel homesick when I moved. Yeah, of course I missed everyone. It was different being away.

Different. But not difficult.

It helped that Singapore is only 3.5 hours away from the Philippines. It was easy and accessible for friends and family to visit and for me to fly back and forth. Also, being within the same timezone made it convenient to communicate and catch up with everyone on a daily basis.

Thank you to these people who visited!

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First family visit

 

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SG road trip with brother Juancho and sister-in-law Jho

 

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When your best friend misses you so much she flies all the way from Manila just to see you.
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New year and mama’s birthday countdown while watching Alicia Keys at Marina Bay
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Dinner catch up with ex colleagues Pot, JT, and Issay.

 

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Food trip 2.0 with Issay, JT, and Rayna.

 

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Reuniting with Manu, a fellow solo traveler I met in Hong Kong.

 

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Short catch up with high school friend Ricky.

 

Being a stranger in a foreign country is not easy. I could not have done it without the help of friends and family who took care of me, guided me, and helped me adjust.

A big shoutout to the following people:

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Riza and Tetet

 

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Ate Pia
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Ate Griz

 

Ah, and who would have thought I would have at least 3 Filipino colleagues? It is like I never left Manila at all!

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Former colleagues Law, Dorothy, and Bernard.

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Former Pinoy colleagues Bernard, Em, and Del.

TRAVEL FRIENDLY

For an avid traveler like myself, this probably tops my list of “The best things about living in Singapore.” Not only is the country being sandwiched by Malaysia and Indonesia, which you can get to by just riding the bus or hopping on a boat, it is also a jump off point to so many other destinations! Airfares are relatively cheap especially during off peak days and seasons.

I will write about these trips in separate blog posts but here are previews of some of my over the weekend short trips from Singapore:

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Melaka, Malaysia

Melaka is roughly a 4 to 5-hour bus ride away from Singapore. A couple of friends and I went there for just an overnight trip with a budget of around S$120 each.

 

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Bintan, Indonesia

Imagine going on a relaxing beach getaway that is just a 45-minute boat ride away from Singapore. Yup, that’s Bintan. Your quick escape from the hustle and bustle of Singapore.

 

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I booked an overnight trip to KL just for the heck of it. For a S$70 two-way air ticket, why not?

 

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Genting Highlands, Malaysia

A quick breather up the mountains of Malaysia. It is not exactly the “mountains” I am used to, but the silence and cool weather was worth the 5-hour bus trip.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY

I think mostly for me, as a writer, the biggest hurdle I faced was the language barrier. Yes, Singapore is generally an english-speaking country, but them using British English and me being used to American English was a struggle. Simple adjustments like getting used to writing realised instead of realized, mum instead of mom, etc.

Some other examples:

HOW I WOULD SAY IT HOW THEY SAY IT
I will pick up the results of the tests later. I will collect the results of the tests later.
There is a long line at the bank. There is a long queue at the bank.
I just got home. I just reached home.
Can you do it? Can?
Let’s just see. See how.

And of course, don’t forget the long list of local slangs that I am still learning to date. Takes time lah!

OPEN TO ADVENTURES

I have been to Singapore a couple of times before moving and quite frankly, I was not the biggest fan of the place. All it was to me was a safe, organised, advanced first world country. Yes, it was all that. And so much more.

There are short trekking trails you can go to.

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Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

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And who would have thought there are beaches? Singapore is, after all, an island.

Here are snippets of a random sunset viewing beach trip, one bus ride away from where I stay.

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Whenever I travel, I make it to a point that I go cafe hopping. For those who do not know, there are LOTS of must-try coffee and desserts at artsy cafes in Singapore.

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The Orange Thimble, 56 Eng Hong Street

 

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The Hangar (Sexy Coffee), 25 Arab Street

 

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Fika Swedish Cafe & Bistro, One KM

 

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Central Perk, 1 Magazine Road

 

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fArt tArtz, Expo

 

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Montana Brew Bar, 1 Selegie Road

 

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The Little Prince Cafe, 47 Lor 6 Toa Payoh

 

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Lola’s Cafe, 5 Simon Road

 

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Watanabe Coffee, Chinatown Point

 

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Charlie Brown Cafe, One KM

 

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Verde Light, 367 Beach Road

 

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The Coffee Daily, 75 Brighton Crescent

 

And for those who are not really into the chill cafe vibe, no worries. The bars and clubs will not disappoint.

I have long retired from partying (hence the few photos I have) but it was worth checking out the night life in Singapore.

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1 Altitude, a rooftop club overlooking the city.

 

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Rooftop pool party at So Sofitel

 

And yes, let us not forget the tourist-y spots.

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Sentosa with Manu and Anna

 

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Merlion Park

 

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Gardens by the Bay

 

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Sunset at Marina Barrage

 

No wonder I did not appreciate the place as much when I was just a tourist. There are so many things to do and places to go to, there is no way you can see and experience them all in a 4-day trip.

FOOD PARADISE

I am just thankful that the lifestyle in Singapore entails a lot of walking. It is almost impossible to go on a diet in this country! Go to the nearest coffee shop or food court and  you will see at least 4 different cuisines. From Chinese to Japanese to Korean to Indian and heck the list goes on!

Here are some of my eye-popping gastronomic favourites:

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Cheesy Fried Oysters

 

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Salmon Hana Maki

 

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Mushroom Tofu

 

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Maki

 

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Salmon Sushi and Maki
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Baked Camembert
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Black Pepper Burger
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Sushi Burrito

 

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Salmon Baked Rice

 

I am not even surprised that for my first year here, I have not lost weight. At least I did not gain too. Haha!

I guess my daily grind of having an average of around 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day just evens out my indulgence for my cravings.

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Yes. It’s okay to indulge. Just burn the calories after. Ha! I gotta find more time to do this.

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12k run from Tampines to Pasir Ris

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

You know how they all say that you should not go looking for love? When it happens, it happens.

It could not be more true for me.

I came to Singapore for many reasons. To fulfil my life-long dream of having a career overseas, to search for an adventure, to make the most out of life while I still can, etc. I had my reasons but to find love was not one of them.

How and why it happened? I still do not know. But I do know that God willed and allowed it. Two completely different people with completely different backgrounds meet at the right place and at the right time.

For the many reasons I came to Singapore for, for all my goals and expectations, the unexpected turned out to be the best part.

I know how it feels to expect and be disappointed. But this is the first time I experienced being fulfilled by the unexpected.

Who would have thought? Surely neither of us did.

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This in itself justifies my big move to be the best decision I have ever made.


A year has gone by so fast. It is pretty much safe to say I am not the same person when I moved. 

Singapore may be the most expensive city in the world, but I am in no way feeling poor or in lack. If anything, I feel rich and blessed with all that I just wrote about.

So, how has it been?

Singapore is now my home away from home. 🙂

2 Comments

  1. Love it!
    I moved there almost 17 years ago and it taught me, nourshised me and loved me in similar ways.
    Remember the currency collection I showed you when you came home ? Well, I truly wish you have all those opportunities and experiences 🙂
    Love you Sam xx

    Like

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