This is how a typical day of vacation in Singapore would go for me.
I’d wake up around 8 a.m., breeze through a few chapters of whatever ebook I’m reading at the time while waiting for my family prep, spend a few minutes making myself presentable, and then walk with them to the nearby hawker center to have breakfast.
A typical breakfast would consist of the following: meatball soup (S$2.50, or roughly 75 pesos) which has some pretty tasty meatballs; the always refreshing iced Milo (around S$0.90 I think); and grass jelly drink (around S$0.70) which my dad would always buy.
More often than not, he’d buy roti prata, too–those fried flat pancakes served with mild Indian curry–but I’ll only take a bite or two. They’re not bad and I’m a big curry fan myself, but I’m not too into having curry in the morning.
Instead, I’d walk a few meters to a little bakeshop around the corner that makes amazing waffles to go. Just the scent of the batter forming and bubbling up in the waffle-maker is enough to make my stomach rumble even though I’ve already downed a lot of noodles and meatballs. It’s that good.
I’d order one waffle–with kaya, please (S$1.70 if I remember correctly). There are other choices for your waffle spread–chocolate, peanut butter, hazelnut, butter, and cheese, but I always go for their kaya which has just the right amount of sweetness.
After stuffing ourselves with cheap good food, we’d walk back to the flat and prepare for the rest of the day’s agenda: most of the time it would involve going to some mall, trekking at some park or swimming at the clean Olympic-sized public pool in the sports complex (S$1 entrance fee per person). Mostly local stuff. After spending the past three summers or so in Singapore, we’re mostly done with touristy activities like going to Universal Studios in Sentosa (although if I were to be completely honest, I would be thrilled to go on that Transformers ride again).
I was still amazed at the tourist spots we went to, though. Gardens by the Bay, for one, was a sight to behold and reminded me of Pandora from Avatar.
Thing is, I used to dislike Singapore. The first time I went there as an adult, everything looked perfectly polished—-a stark contract to the chaos and grit of Manila. The perfectly lined trees along the roads, the beaches in Sentosa that looked perfectly thought-out—-two summers ago, all of these seemed artificial to me. Everything looked flawless, and in my view then, therefore soulless.
But I’ve come to appreciate SG, especially after this latest week-long trip. Maybe it’s because of my new perspective about traveling and eating courtesy of Anthony Bourdain. Maybe it’s because I badly needed a break from all the election stress at work. Or maybe I’m just growing up, becoming a proper adult who can appreciate a good country when she’s in one.
Anyhow, I sincerely admire SG now. They make the best of what they have. Everyone seems to work hard. They do the kind of landscapes and architecture that I can only dream of seeing in my own country. And, most of all, I can openly use my phone in public transportation without fear of getting robbed.
This trip had been good for my body, mind, and heart. Although I was a bit sad about leaving, I left a happy, enlightened girl.