During our annual Christmas gathering last year, my friends and I whipped some incredible idea to go on a group trip to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this year. Our tickets were bought as early as January 2009.
I got back from our trip last Tuesday. After all the fuss and the growing anticipation I felt as the days slowly turned into months, the trip felt like a bolt of lightning to me – it was over so soon, my brain has not even began to process that I was already there having fun with my closest friends.
The trip was a memorable one – definitely a class of its own. I always travel with my husband or the rest of the family and in said travels, I cannot truly pamper myself because I had to think of the kiddies or the elders or the husband. This trip? Wow, it was a time for myself after a long, long, long, while. It was my third trip to Singapore and I was just there for the company of my friends rather than the place itself but hey, I immensely enjoyed this trip to Singapore as well – the places I went with my friends were a different experience too.
Our trip itinerary was more or less accomplished but there were unexpected events that amazingly made it unforgettable:
5. KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA.
I wasn’t that thrilled to visit Malaysia. I don’t know where I got the impression that it will just be like the Philippines. Before going there, I expected to see a Philippines or the Indonesia I see on TV. I was wrong. It was a beautiful place (er, except for that one teeny thing in the Central station). The locals were warm and helpful too. After that very short trip, my notion of Malaysia has changed big time. I’m now envying why we couldn’t be like Malaysia.
4. SRI LANKAN CRABS.
It was my first time to try the biggest, mouthwatering crabs I have ever seen by far. Just eating one of its front legs was enough to make me full. I have never eaten so much crab in my entire life! The crab dishes we ordered were both hot and spicy but wow, it made me eat some more. Manay was even thinking of ordering take out and bringing it home for others to taste it too. Yep, it was that delectable.
3. FIREWORKS AT MERLION PARK.
This was totally unexpected. The display of fireworks up close was magnificent, add to that the ambiance of the sea and the lights in Merlion Park, perfect. It was my first time to see so many different kinds of fireworks just over my head. It was so beautiful, it felt like the world stood still and nothing existed than those sparks. Whew, I even got an emo-moment and thought of H and how nice it would have been if he had seen it with me.
2. GMAX REVERSE BUNGY.
Omo, omo, omo. This was one experience that will stay with me forever. There’s nothing like the liberating feeling I felt when I was there up in the air and overcoming this particular ride. On our way to ride it, my body would not remain still – hands sweating, heart pounding, stomach churning. The minute I sat on that ride, there was no turning back. I’m so glad I forced myself to ride it. Nothing beats the feeling I got after this ride.
1. THE FALL IN CLARKE QUAY.
I know that whenever I will recall this trip, the first thing that will flash on my mind would be the wounds I got. My wow legs will never be the same. My mom and my aunts saw my knees this afternoon and they were all making a fuss of it. I fell when I slipped at some hump/island immediately before the entrance of Clarke Quay. The fall caused me to suffer two gory knees since day 2 to day 4 of the trip. Up to this day, I’m still suffering the aftermath of that fall – I got a tetanus shot this morning just to be safe. Hay, it hurts like love!
Below is a detailed recollection of the trip we took. H said I shouldn’t have written it that long because the reader will surely get nosebleed with almost 5,000 words in this entry.
My way to our grand slumber party started in July 1, when I went to Manila a day earlier than Manay because I had to drop by my sister’s condo and visit my mother who was there for medical check up. The following day, seven hours early from our estimated departure for Singapore, I went to the airport to meet Manay who was arriving from Butuan.
We settled at the departure lounge in NAIA Terminal III and I sent a text message to our dear friend JC Guapo announcing that we were both ready and waiting for him. While waiting for JC Guapo, I went over the international departures area to check if both Manay and I can make an early check – in because it was inconvenient going around the airport with our luggage. Before reaching the counters of Cebu Pacific, a lady who seemed like a member of the airport staff, stopped me from entering the area. She asked to see my passport and demanded why I was wandering there. I told her I just wanted to inquire if it were possible to check in early. She replied that counters only open three hours before departure time. I buffed that we were on a connecting trip from Butuan. She did not believe me and even asked where my luggage was. I pointed to where they were. Then she nodded and said it was possible. I fetched Manay and our luggage and together we went back to that lady. This time, the lady had another companion when we handed our passports to her. She flipped through its pages and casually asked what was our purpose in going to Singapore. I answered “wala lang” (no particular reason) then Zandee added “yes, wala lang, vacation lang”. We probably looked like domestic helpers to them that they went over the top and looked for the letter of invitation from the person whom we shall be staying with in Singapore and dropping comments like “huh, first time travellers, no letter of invitation?”. My passport was new and except for the valid U.S. Visa pasted on it, she could not see a trace of my travels from before. It was Manay’s first trip abroad so hers was equally clean. I was already irritated and brushed them off by saying “that’s not necessary anymore” but my cellular phone rang that precise moment and I was not able to show my cruel self. The phone call took several minutes and I vaguely hear Manay reasoning with those two power trippers ending it by “if you want, you call him yourself to check if it’s true that we’re just visiting him”. When my call ended, Manay was already motioning me to follow her inside the check in area.
Free from our luggage, which included two dozen pieces of palagsing for our host, we proceeded to the second floor to wait for JC Guapo who still hasn’t answered my message yet. Manay had lunch while I had siomai. Still waiting for JC Guapo, we talked almost two hours away. In the middle of our conversation, a young “looking” Koreano suddenly sat in the vacant seat with us. Overwhelmed by his abrupt behavior, we turned to face him and found the smiling, familiar face of JC Guapo, almost two hours late : )
We were so happy to see JC! Since time immemorial his skin has always been nice but this time, I noticed his face was glowing. He claims it was thanks to Pond’s but I’m thinking it was more than that : ) His face was smooth and rosy and young, we were green with envy, hehehe. Of course he was humble enough make us feel good too by saying, the same goes for us too, LOL.
The three of us talked three and a half hours away over coffee and dinner. Then JC sent us off to the pre-departure area complete with video coverage, hahaha.
Me and Manay paid our airport dues then proceeded to Immigration. The immigration officer irked us off again. He rudely asked us our professions and when I said I was a lawyer, and Manay a dentist, he kind of mellowed down a bit but he made useless talk about some dental procedures up to the point of asking if we were both married, and whether our husbands know of the trip we were taking. I glared at him and did not even bother to answer him but the good natured Manay still answered him, though icily.
It was only several minutes away from boarding and Manay and I frantically called our husbands for last minute instructions and goodbyes. We will be shifting to a prepaid sim in Singapore and it will be four days after yet when we will be hearing their voices again. Although I was so looking forward to this trip with my friends, I felt a pang of homesickness when I bade goodbye to H. This was the first trip I’m having without him and I was missing him already.
The feeling of homesickness remained in Manila. Once Cebu Pacific took off at 8:20 in the evening, I was back to my vacation mode. There was a vacant seat beside mine and I told Manay that was supposed to have been Rape’s seat there, huhuhu. Manay and I dozed off during the flight but my ears were so sensitive to cough inside the plane because of the A(H1N1) thing that every time somebody coughed, I looked out to check if the person was anywhere near me. I had brought masks for us but we did not care to wear it.
Three hours after, we met Eds and Linebell at the Budget Terminal of Changi Airport. We went directly to the flat of Eds, our host, down Sophia Road. The flat was roomy, modern and squeaky clean. It had two bedrooms (not counting the study) and the three of us girls shared one room which conveniently had a bathroom too. Yep, it was first class accommodation for us.
Despite the fact that we arrived in Sophia Lodge around midnight, our adrenaline kept us going. We savored the palagsing and talked until about four in the morning.
Eds had to work the following day and the three of us girls spent the day in the Singapore Zoo from 11:30 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon. It was my first time ever, to visit a zoo, and the Singapore Zoo was a real treat for me. Six hours in the zoo was not enough for us to roam around and look for all the animals there – it was that big. I was supposed to ride an elephant but since we need to pay additional S$ 8.00 for it and Manay will not accompany me at all because of the added price, I contented myself with just watching a few of them there.
We had originally planned to go to Orchard after the zoo and I was supposed to meet my cousin there too but we were dead tired that we opted to go back to Sophia and rest first. It was a two-hour rest (read: sleep) and at around 8:00 P.M., we went to Mellben Seafood for dinner. Omo, omo, omo, the Sri Lankan crabs were as big as the plates! Not only were they tasteful but also filling because of its size and I could not finish it all. Best tastin’ crabs I ever had.
From Mellben, we took the taxi for Clarke Quay where we will be meeting with my cousin for some night life. I was ready to party but what a bummer. When I alighted from the taxi and started walking towards the entrance of Clarke Quay, I slipped while stepping down an island and lost my balance and fell flat on the cemented ground. Eds was quick to catch me but I still lost my balance and fell further when he took my hand. It’s been more than twenty five years since I fell and scratched my knees. I had forgotten how painful it was. Aigoo, it hurts like love.
We continued walking along the area to look for that bar with Spanish ambiance (forgot the name). We were seated and they ordered some cocktails while I ordered water. My cousin arrived and he was shocked to look at my bloody knees. I was busy cleaning the wounds with the water I ordered that I do not recall what conversation transpired when we stayed there. My fall ruined the night for me. Who wouldn’t, with the stinging knees? We did not stay long in the bar and just walked around Clarke Quay, enjoying the atmosphere. The GMax Reverse Bungy Ride was not far from us and Eds was already campaigning that we ride it but no one was interested; even my cousin chickened out. After some picture taking, we decided to call it a night.
Arriving at Sophia, I washed the wounds with soap and water, OMG, it hurts like love!!!!! How was I able to stand the same pain when I was still a child? It hurts, it hurts, it hurts. After washing the wounds, the four of us settled in the sofa and I applied Bactroban ointment courtesy of Eds. Our usual clatter ensued which ended around 4:00 A.M. again.
We woke up late the next day. The minute I opened my eyes, the pain in my legs shot up. It did not hurt like love anymore, it hurt like hell!!!! Nearing noon, Eds, Manay and I proceeded to Sim Lim Electronics. First we met my cousin at Burger King and had brunch then we entered the mall to look for some mini-laptops on sale for my sister. Although it was supposed to be The Great Singapore Sale, my cousin commented that he’s been there regularly and sale after sale had come and gone but the prices were more or less the same. I did not find anything within the budget my sister gave me so I left empty handed. Manay was able to buy a digital photo frame on sale though. We dropped off the digital photo frame and some stuff my cousin wanted me to give to our family back home at Sophia and off we went to the nearest MRT (?) station to meet Linebell. We hopped on the train to Vivo City (?) for our cable ride to Sentosa Island.
The cable ride was hilarious. I just found out that Linebell was afraid of heights and she kept pulling Eds close to her during the ride. I’m not particularly afraid of heights but Linebell kept moving and the cable was shaking, thus I grew a little concerned, hehehe. Sorry to Linebell but Manay, Eds and I really enjoyed the ride partly because she was so scared, it was so funny.
Once in Sentosa, Manay, Eds and I went to see the creatures of the sea in the aquarium (the one like Ocean Park). Linebell waited outside because she has been there before. I was also there four years ago but I thought it’d be better to see it again because there may be something new for me.
More than thirty minutes later, we met with Linebell and had late lunch in one of the restaurants along the beach.
We had planned to watch the show “Creatures of the Sea” but the tickets were already sold out. Instead, we went to ride the Sentosa Skyride and Sentose Luge.
The Skyride looked easy to me. I rode a similar one in Korea’s Everland last year. Unfortunately, I was wearing slippers and during the whole ride of around 10-15 minutes above the ground, my toes were tightly gripping my slippers because it felt like they were going to fall off. The Skyride shook me a little because I could hear Linebell’s faint cries of fear amidst the echoes of Eds’ loud laughter. Aside from that, we were way above the ground. Looking down made me somewhat dizzy. In Everland, there was a black net several feet below the ride so it felt reassuring there.
When we reached the top, we went forth to ride the Luge. This was a go-cart ride. Each of us wore our helmets and settled in our individual carts. Whoa, I enjoyed the ride very much. Some kids were speeding so fast, I was afraid they’d bump me and I might end up wounded again. The rest of the riders rode very fast too, even Linebell overtook me. I was going slow because I wanted to savor the ride and I did not want it to end. It was so relaxing riding down the mountain, listening to my thoughts and admiring the view.
It was almost seven in the evening when we decided to head back because our next stop was the Merlion Park. We took the cable car again and this time, Linebell was enjoying herself. Us too.
It was dark already when we reached the park. We took several pictures and in the middle thereof, a fireworks display greeted us. Singapore was practicing their Independence Day program (to be held in August) and the practice included a test on the fireworks as well. It was magical.
We had dinner in one of the restaurants in Merlion Park, fronting the waters. Yummy! It was during dinner that Linebell suddenly decided to ride the Gmax Reverse Bungy, to the delight of Eds! Linebell said she might as well conquer her fear of heights to the next level. Manay and I exchanged looks. I had already abandoned the idea of riding it but if Linebell would ride it, I’d ride it as well because I know if I won’t, I’ll regret it forever.
We headed to Clarke Quay after dinner for the Gmax Reverse Bungy. Manay and I were dreading the ride but Linebell was in high spirits. My stomach was churning and my heart was pounding so hard. When it was time for Linebell and Eds to board the ride, the man said we needed to change partners. I think Manay and I would have been thrown off the ride had we gone together because we were so light. So Eds and Manay went first. Then Linebell and me. We had a blast. The high was indescribable. : )
Still giddy from our ride, we raced to the flat of Eds and eagerly watched our videos from our Reverse Bungy experience. My stomach ached from laughing so much. Although we were mindful that we had an early flight to Kuala Lumpur the next day, we still engaged in our usual talks until around 1:00 in the morning.
Our flight to Kuala Lumpur was at 7:30 in the morning. Still groggy from lack of sleep and energy, Linebel, Eds and I left for the airport at 6:00 and were there right on time. Manay stayed behind because she had an important meeting that day.
It was a one hour flight to Kuala Lumpur and I slept the whole duration of the flight. When we landed, it was dark and raining. We went straight to the ATM for some Malaysian Ringgit and then bought a bus ticket to Kuala Lumpur proper – the international airport was approximately an hour away from the city proper. Linebell commented this was ridiculously far but yeah, in Korea, the international airport was in Incheon too and an hour away from Seoul also.
During the few minutes in the bus ride, I looked over the window for some sights but it looked like the Philippines to me in the provinces – a neverending road of trees and sometimes grass. Bored, I chose to catch a much needed sleep instead.
I woke up just in time as the bus stopped in MRT (?) Central Station. Thank God, the rain had stopped. We went straight to the bathroom. I was so disappointed with Ladies Room. I’ve gotten used to the well-kept comfort rooms in Singapore that the sight in this one was ghastly. The floor was dirty, the water taps were rusty, the smell was foul. I waited a while until a cubicle was available while Linebell brushed her teeth. When I went in, OMG, it was not the usual toilet – there was no toilet bowl that I could sit on. It was the kind of toilet where I had to squat on the floor – reminded me of the toilet in grade school. It would have been okay if the floor was clean, but gesh, I tried so hard to squat and let my urine out but nothing would come out. I was so disturbed with the odor, the dirty floor and the dirty trash can so very near me. I waited a few seconds but I just can not pee. I went out before I puke.
Meeting Eds along the way, I continued to complain about the comfort room while we went out of the station and crossed the street toward the hotel where we were supposed to catch the Hop on, Hop Off bus for tourists. The front desk told us we were supposed to wait in the bus stop in front of the Central Station. While still in the hotel, I opted to use the ladies room this time and thank goodness, it was clean. While waiting for the bus, Linebell bought bottled water and went back to the hotel to brush her teeth again – in order to erase the horror memories of the bathroom from hell.
The Hop On, Hop Off bus arrived while Linebell was still in the hotel so we missed it. No worries because we decided we’d just tour the city ourselves instead.
It was almost 10:30 when the taxi stopped at the Petronas Towers. Wow. What a sight. We posed outside for some pictures and hurriedly went inside for tickets to go up the towers. Too bad that due to the volume of tourists that day, tickets were already sold out. We looked for a restaurant in one of the shops in the the mall below the towers. I ordered fish while Linebell ordered chicken and Eds steak (?). Linebell also tried the tequila drink : ). We took our time eating lunch and enjoyed just talking about some things, hehehe. It was almost 1:30 in the afternoon when we finally stood up. Since it was also the Malaysian Sale (akin to the Great Singapore Sale), the three of us parted ways and agreed to meet within one hour so that we can do some shopping on our own.
I went around the shops to look for some items on sale that I might bring as pasalubongs. After an hour of walking, I was only able to buy a Guess blouse for my niece 70% off. Not bad, huh? Linebell was better off because she was able to buy a Kuala Lumpur shirt and some throw pillow cases.
We then proceeded to the MRT station to go to Bukit Bintang. We took the train then walked some more to transfer to another train. The streets of Kuala Lumpur were clean, quiet and empty. I don’t think it was because it was Sunday, since this was a Muslim country right? Probably because Malaysia has only about 22 million population so naturally, theirs would be quiet compare to ours. While walking, we saw wild monkeys in the sidewalks, gesh, I was afraid they would be like stray dogs and go after us.
Arriving in Bukit Bintan, we checked out the shops at the side of the street and bought some cheap pasalubongs. After all that walking, I got hungry while Linebell felt her back aching so we went inside the mall (the name I again cannot recall) and looked for a restaurant for coffee or something. Linebell wanted one with a couch and after several trips from floor to floor, we found a cozy spot in a chocolate resto. It felt heaven to rest our legs. I drank icy choco with carrot cake and lots and lots of water to wash away any trace of chocolate that might trigger my tonsilitis. The three of us engaged in deep conversation again and perhaps we stayed there for more than two hours. We were laughing that what we ever did in KL was just eat and talk, but hey, it was definitely fine with me.
We left the shop when some drums were blasting in the first floor and Linebell wanted to check it out. We went down to check it out for a few minutes. After the short presentation, we crossed the street to Marriot Hotel and rested in the sofa. It was almost six o’clock this time. Eds came back from the comfort room and the three of us went out to wait for a taxi on our way back to the Petronas Towers. Yes, we wanted to go back when it’s dark to admire the view.
Back at the Petronas towers, we sat down in the park in front of the fountain and waited for darkness to set in. Unfortunately, like Singapore, the days were longer in Malaysia too and it was already 7:00 pm but it looked like it was 5:00 PM in the Philippines. I reminded my companions we had to leave by 7:30 to catch the bus at the Central Station by 8:00 PM so that we will be in the airport by 9:00 PM just in time to check in for our 10:30 flight back to Singapore.
We caught the 8:15 bus back to the airport and arrived there before 9:30. We were brisk walking now to check in since we did not want miss the flight and stay the night. We checked in just in time and had to wait some minutes before boarding. Once I hit my seat in the plane, sleep set in immediately. I was exhausted.
We got in at Sophia at around midnight and Eds bought us dinner from the foodmall in the neighborhood. Manay woke up when we arrived and as usual, we talked for a while but I was so tired already, I went to bed earlier while Manay and Linebell packed their things for our departure.
The minute I opened my eyes the following day around 9 AM, I went to the study of Eds where we kept our luggage and I quickly packed my things. I hadn’t done any shopping yet and that was on my agenda for my last day in Singapore. Shortly thereafter, the rest of them woke up – Eds prepared to go to work, Manay cooked breakfast and Linebell checked her emails. We ate a late breakfast and our conversations took over our schedule to start shopping at Orchard before lunch. Eds had already texted us that he was on the way to the Chinese restaurant at Takashimaya to meet us for lunch and the three of us bolted up and hurriedly got ready.
The Chinese lunch was kind of greasy for me but the tea made it better. I only ordered some green veggies but the three of them ended ordering prawns – prawn dumplings, prawn siomai, chili prawns, hahaha. Deliciously funny.
After lunch, Eds went back to work and Linebell went back to Sophia for online work too. Manay and I roamed around the mall for some shopping while waiting for my cousin to meet us. Weird but there weren’t any sizes available for my husband @ Levi’s – I was looking for size 32 and they only have until size 30. This also happened in Kuala Lumpur. What’s this, the men are skinny in this corner???
When my cousin arrived, we headed to Lucky Plaza for the pasalubong shopping galore and the rest of the malls lined up in Orchard. We bought a handful, but surprisingly, Manay and I were not able to buy even one item for each of us. Nothing caught my attention – I just wanted to buy something for my loved ones and none for me.
Four hours later, Manay and I arrived at Sophia and continued packing. Whoa, my bag could hardly close. When Eds came from work, we ate dinner at the nearby foodmall. Eds, Manay and I ordered Korean food, namnam…at around 8:30 we went back to the flat, made last minute packing and last minute chickas and by 9:00 sharp, Manay and I bade goodbye to Eds and Linebell and headed to the Budget Terminal.
Though our flight was still at 12:40 AM, I chose to go early because I had to meet my good friend from college, Gavina, in the airport.
The counters were still close when we arrived but it was okay because Manay and I took turns calling our husbands home using the Singtel card Linebell gave me earlier. Shortly after, Gavina with her family arrived and we talked non-stop until 11:00 PM. By 11:00, Manay and I were ready to go to the pre-departure area so that Gavina and family can leave already since they still had to work the following day.
Manay and I continued to look around the duty free area in the pre-departure, but again, nothing fancied me. I grabbed a sandwich and Manay a hot choco then we were ready to board.
We slept through the flight. The next time I opened my eyes, the plane had just landed back to reality.