Sunday, 15 March 2015

Freedom fighting* in Singapore

Most posts would point out how expensive Singapore is.  While I prepared for my short stay in Singapore, I wanted to test my budget/backpacking traveling skills in this aspect.  How far can you truly stretch your pocket for a two night and one day trip?

1.  Couch-surf.  Though I was traveling with two other friends, we managed to ask a friend to welcome us to his house for free.  This included free breakfasts and a welcome dinner at a fastfood chain. Cost: token from the Philippines with much of  news and listening...

Our first lunch was in this heritage place 

2.  Borrowed transport card.  It was very convenient to be handed out a transport card by our host. The card brought us to the sights that we wanted to see.  We used it for the bus and the train. We just topped it up.  I thought of buying a Tourist Pass but since we didn't make up our mind of where to go, we just settled for the transport card. Cost: 10 SgD

You can't surely miss the skyline...

The background may all look modern but they took a pose at 

 Finally meeting the Merlion!

Lost in the arts...

Goofing around at the Flower Garden

Reunion with friends to cap the day...

Singapore by night...

These tourists need some downtime too!

3.  Sightseeing.  Since we only had a day to go around the city, it was very difficult to point out places that we want to go.  We settled for getting a feel of the city in the most inexpensive way.  We stopped at Orchard station and walked through the buildings and the sights.    We went around the marina for 4 hours!  We went to some of the museums and gardens.  At the Bay Garden, we were lucky enough to get free tickets from a friend.  That was very impressive and would surely give you an idea on how much the country invested on tourism.  Cost: Free + some tokens from the Philippines

4.  Meals.  We were hosted by different sets of friends from different 'lifetimes' and circumstances in Singapore.  They re-introduced me to different Singaporean vegetarian dishes and fare.   Spicing it up with cryptic updates and stories, the meals shared were superb.  And oh, please don't skip the local ice cream sold just by the streets.  This ensures that you help the local economy. Cost: 15 SgD (Tip: Take a water bottle with you from home if you truly want to keep it low)

5.   Freedom fighting.  Simple, you simply enjoy what is shared for free!

6.  Airfare. We took the Cebu-Singapore flight of Cebu Pacific.  It costed us 1,800 (exclusive of taxes).  It was a stopover trip on my way to Indonesia.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Travel Light

Traveling light is traveling in style.  You breeze through check ins and head straight to your destination upon arrival. You are one happy person squeezing through the public transport system, saving a lot of money.

Some tips:

1.  Plan very well, analyze the nature of your trip.
2.  It pays to wash clothes.  What is a 10 minute washing compared to an eternal lugging in of oversized luggage?
3.  Traveling for a week, a month or even months sounds the same to me:
         A.  2 pairs of pants (the first pair is worn on day 1)
         B.  2 lightweight clothes 
         c.  4 tops (shirts or blouses)
         d.  2 leggings
         e.  underwears 
         f.  microfiber towel
         g.  sarong
         h.  toiletries. & laundry soap
         g. camera
         h.  traveling adopter.
4.  wear the bulkiest clothes and footwear at the airport or in long journeys.
5.  Maintain a good disposition.  Be happy!

The pilgrimage continues

I first worked with the Taize Community in the early 90s.  I have the privilege of working with them in the Manila Pilgrimage of Trust.  Thanks to the Brothers, I got to know Manila broadly and had the glimpse of the iron city.

Years after, another pilgrimage was held in Don Bosco, Makati. I came as a pilgrim and a volunteer in the actual meeting.

It was a reunion of sorts and a way to reconnect with the inner voice.  Indeed, the way to peace is through trust and reconciliation.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Respecting the Place

The 'mainstream' traveler visits places to fulfill their bucket lists.  Others get lucky to find a good airfare deal at the right time when their credit cards are not yet maxed out.  However, there are those lovers of adventures who just can't get enough of cultures and peoples.  They hop from one place to another simply to look for the right mix and the right blend of thrills.  To which category you belong to is not my topic here.

I would like to talk about respect of the place.  Of course, there are those social norms that you can't do without especially if the laws of the place demand it.  When the show of flesh is frowned upon, I hide behind my shawls and my loose clothes to play it safe.

Another point that tugged my mind is on the issue to splurge and how much?  When the exchange rate is too low, one gets the 'false' notion of being a millionaire. When poverty reeks to the point of shock, how much tip do we give to service providers?  What about gifts?

What about the norms to observe in visiting houses and villages?  Normally, I go visit these places only when am ready and is genuinely interested in meeting others.  I need to be fully present, breathe into the newness of the place and culture and to be sensitive to what they want to show.  Being invited to someone's home is an honor.

What about photographs?  I don't click much in my travels.  I am prepared to store memories in the heart.  While we may have our own dream photographs in mind to take, I normally ask permission to take photos.

The best way to ensure 'unobtrusive' travel is to be with a local.  They give you signs when rules can be broken and what norms to truly follow.