Saturday, 28 January 2012

elephants on parade

Elephants invaded the island-city of Singapore for two months last 11 November to 11 January, 2011.  Colorful statues of elephants painted by local and international artists and sponsored by companies were exhibited in many parts of the city.  We chance a few of them in our visits to The Merlion Park, Singapore Zoo and Esplanade.

The Elephants on Parade,  according to the organizers is the largest open air art exhibition in the preservation of the Asian Elephants worldwide.  Each elephant is unique and they were auctioned-off by Sotheby's. Small replicas were also sold in the Malls.  There were a total of 160 elephants.  Too bad, we missed the others.

Share to you some of these fancy pop arts ~

Long Life and Delightful Durian

Elephant in Black and Gray

Flower of Love


Long Life

Delightful Durian

Free Spirit and Truth

Swampy Jane

The Calligraphic Elephant

Temasek (means sea town, the old singapore)

Nature Sound

Saving Richard III

'till next adventure!


Friday, 20 January 2012

Wanna go to SG !! How much Budget ?!

Time and Again, I often get those questions from friends and acquaintances. They all want to come over to Singapore but they want  me to calculate how much they would be spending and how much pocket money they have to bring.  If it had been a question of What To See, What to Do and What to Eat.  No-brainer.

However, a question of finances makes me scratch my head.   For one, each person's Spending Tolerance differs.  What is cheap for one, may be ostentatious for the other.  One may tolerate a backpacker style, while another might prefer personalized butler service. Needlessly to say,  for my Bestfriends, I expect them to tolerate sharing toilets with my kids if  they want to stay with me :) Ha Ha Ha.

So, I decided to come up with this simple Budget Guide, to encapsulate the usual expense of  One person traveling to Sg.  I tried to be as conservative in the costings as much as possible, so as not to scare you off.  However, we all know that traveling can be expensive, especially coming from 3rd world to 1st world.  (I myself forget, that SG is 1st world like US, Japan).  So, it's really better to have extra allowances in your budget.

Landed rates are in SG dollars. For my Filipino readers, rather than the prevailing rate, i find it easier to think using: 1 SGD = 35 Php

Airfare (Cebu Pac)                                              15, 000 Php  to 20,000 Php
Travel Tax =                                                           1,650 Php
Terminal Fee =                                                          750 Php
Taxi to Airport =                                                         ______
Food on Air =                                                             ______

Landed Costs

Accommodation   (*standard room/ per night)
   Budget Hotels (Hotel 81, Fragrance)                                                                                    80 -100
   3-4star Hotel / Hostel  (VIP Hotel, YMCA, Furayama)                                                         170-250
   5star Hotel (Holiday Inn, JW Marrriot)                                                                                  275-300
   5star Michelin Star (Marina Bay Sands, Fullerton)                                                               400 up                                                

   MRT / Bus Card  (budget for 2 loads /top-up @10per load)                15.00
   Taxi  (Flag Down Rate -   3 SGD / 0.22 cents every 400meters)

   McDo / Burger King Meal                                                                       5.00
   Hawker's / Food Court Chicken Rice (no drinks)                                 3.50 - 4.50
   Coffee w/ Toasts and Eggs (ToastBox/ Kopitiam)                                4.50
   Starbucks Cafe Mocca                                                                          5.00  
   Coke in Can                                                                                           1.80
   Coke 500ml                                                                                            2.60
   Mineral Water                                                                                          1.00
   Dirty Ice Cream                                                                                       1.00
   Fish Ball on Sticks                                                                                   1.30
   Fancy Dinner
(Jumbo Restaurant/ No Signboard) for 4pax                                             160
(usual order of Chili Crab, Cereal Prawns, Yang Chow, etc.)

  Universal Studios                                                        74 adult /  68 child
  Singapore Zoo                                                             20 adult /   13 child
  Marina Bay Skypark                                                   19 adult / 13 child
  Singapore Flyer                                                           29.50 adult / 20.65 child
  Duck / Hippo Tour                                                       33 adult / 17 child
  Jurong Bird Park                                                         18 adult / 12 child
  Night Safari                                                                  32 adult/ 21 child
  Sentosa (free entrance, fee per attraction)
-Express train to Sentosa from vivo city mall                  2 sgd
-Cable car  (one way is ok.)                                           24 adult / 14 child
-The Giant Merlion @ Sentosa                                         8 adult /  5 child
-Underwater World                                                        25.90 adult / 17.60 child
-Songs of the Sea                                                         10 sgd
- iFly Singapore (indoor skydiving)                                89 adult / 79 child

Keychains  (cheapest - 12pcs.)                                     10 sgd
T-shirt (I Love SG by Giordano)                    15 sgd for Two, 18 sgd for One


Charles and Keith  Bags/Shoes/ Wallets (Singaporean Brand) must buy!!  around 500-800 Php less than Philippines; and the on-sale here are usually new arrivals in the Philippines

Always remember that Singapore do not have clothing factories.   CLOTHING IS EXPENSIVE. What you will buy from here,  are usually from China, Thailand, Korea and Japan; and the usual global mass retail outlets that can also be found in your home country (Forever 21, TopShop/ TopMan, Mango, Zara, H&M, River Island)  Check the price from PH before you come, if you are eyeing a particular item.

Electronic Gadgets (digicams, dslrs, cellphone, smartphones, tablets, netbooks)  I am not familiar with the comparisons from Philippines. But my aunt bought her Sony Digicam from here, it's 5K less from Philippines. They all say LED TV is very, very cheap here.   As I said, check out the item you like first in our home country, before coming over. Or ask a friend to check it for you first in Sg, so you can budget the money, before coming over.

Luxury Goods, it is never cheap. I will not dwell on this.  But you will be spoilt for choices! Never ever leave home without your trusty Credit Cards.  You will regret not buying, as soon as you get back to Manila, and browse in Greenbelt :))

Points to Ponder:

  • Airfare.  Book early.  You can save a lot on this one.  Just note that even if you book early, the Peak Seasons (Holy Week, Christmas) are still expensive.  Plan to come on regular normal days.  Take a Leave from Work! You deserve the Break.  Even the entrances to the attractions have peak/non-peak rates.  Try different airlines. For budget, there's Jestar, Tiger Airways, Airphil Express, not just Cebu Pacific.   Red-Eye flights are cheaper, too.  Just Note, that it's an extra day loss for you, so don't count that day in your itinerary.
  • Attractions. I just listed the must-sees attractions that have entrances fees.  The nice thing about Singapore, there are also places to see without burning your wallet. (Historical places, botanical gardens, huge Malls, esplanade bay, merlion, parks....)
  • Food can be expensive if you confine yourself to western fast food.  It's cheaper and more exciting  to try local fares at Hawker's center and food courts.  They are clean and safe.
  • Transpo.  No worries at all. Everything is accessible by MRT and bus.
  • Souvenir Shopping. Our favorite of all, to bring home pasalubong for our friends back home.  Lots of choices and price range are flexible.  Of course, if you want to go for quality, can be a bit pricey. Nevertheless, I always say, It's the thought that counts! 
  • Language. No sweat. Everyone speaks english, sometimes better than you. :) It's worse in Hkg or Thailand.  They just stare at you like you're a ghost and brush you off. Singaporeans are most helpful lot !!
  • Currency Conversion. Conversion at the airport are ok.  They are reputable banks that have the same rates outside.
  • Shopping.  Most goods have GST tax.  Have them refunded at the airport when you leave, especially luxury and electronic goods. There's great shopping at the departure areas if you're departing Terminal 1/2 and 3.  But if you're flying budget, forget it.  Duty Free at budget terminal is like 7-eleven.  Get your shopping fix satiated fully in the city.

I can't think of anything anymore!  Just drop me a quick comment if you have some questions, and I will gladly answer to the best of my knowledge.  For others who know  better than I am, I welcome your suggestions, too.

See you in Singapore!



Wednesday, 11 January 2012

One afternoon at One Degrees 15.

Just when I thought I have seen all the nooks and crannies of Sentosa Island... surprise! Yesterday, I had the pleasure of getting access to,  One Degrees 15 Marina Club,  the playground of the mega-rich Singaporeans and well-heeled expats.

Had it not been for the dinner tendered by the CEO of Coca-Cola Singapore,  I doubt if I can even get pass the guards.


The club is nestled within the ultra-exclusive Sentosa Cove, the heart of Sentosa Island's billion-dollar master plan which boasts of creating integrated lifestyle communities and Asia's best oceanfront residences.  Lest I sound like brochure, let the pics to the talking.

I can't get over ogling at the beautiful yachts, sailboats and high-tech fishing boats, looking like Porches, Rolls Royces and Ferraris of the waters.

Oh, there's one for sale!  No thank You.  Not today, I'm seasick.

This is how one should organize their Jet Skis.  A rack.   It's like a huge shoe store!

Ok, honey, Dream On!

I didn't take the pic below.  It's owned by Sentosa Cove.  I just wanna show you, the Private Villas, which has individual berths for the owner's yacht and boats.  Sentosa is largely a Reclaimed Area.
One of the small talks at the party was, Foreigners can't own landed properties in Singapore, except Sentosa Island... because they're not real lands :))

Casual dinner was at a bar, near the floating berths. Sipping cocktails, Cokes (needless to say!)  and everyone's new favorite, Dragon Fruit  Vit Water  (Have you tried it?)  Coke product, of course.

Honestly, I was too shy to take pictures of the people /happenings at the party.  I was so scared to look like juvenile, "facebooking" and we were one of the youngest couples there.

There were the Indian CEO and his model-looking wife, who tells the funniest story about New Delhi and food trips in Singapore.  The CFOs, COOs, Directors, Managers.... all came with their spouses.   Times like these.....always..always... bring your High Heels and your Brains!  

There were only three Pinoys (Ted, myself and his Production Manager Ramil).  All the rest are Singaporeans, Malaysians, Chinese, Indians, Americans.   But waiting for Announcements (may bonus ba?) is Universal.  Hahaha.  Sadly, masarap yung food, pero walang announcements. Hahahaha

Well, nice experience... and now back to my laundry...