Getting used to saying goodbye. #misssingapore

It is currently 230pm on Monday afternoon, and only a few short hours until I leave to the airport. My last couple days in Singapore have been amazing. Justin is honestly the most amazing person for housing me the last 2 weeks, and he has really put up with me better than anyone ever has. He says he is sad and doesn’t know who will entertain him when I leave, but I secretly think he is kind of excited to be able to see the floor in his room again, with the absense of my luggages, and sleep in his own bed for the first time in 2 weeks.

When I returned from Indonesia, I took a day to tend to my sunburn and relax. I have been doing alot of relaxing, however this relaxing has occured in different locations so it’s allowed. After catching the 9am ferry from Indonesia back to Singapore, we headed back to Justin’s residence. Following unpacking my bag, I met up with Lianne and the girls at NTU and gave Justin a bit of alone time. 3 days of my constant prescence can be really exhausting for someone. The girls at NTU had ordered 4 pizzas, and were watching Bridemaids in a floor lounge. It really brought me back to first year; bunch of girls, pigging out on food and a good’ ole’ chick flick. Lianne was able to switch halls, and her new room is amazing! It has so much storage under the bed, and above the closets and is definately a more liveable environment. It is always a joy to see my lil Lianne, and it is really sad I have said goodbye to her for now until possibly September 😦

Friday was spent once again relaxing.

Saturday, Justin and I headed to Bogis which is this AMAZING outdoor market/bizarre with the most unique clothes, shoes, accessories and bags imaginable. For about 60$ CDN I was able to get a purse, a dress, a pair of shorts, 4 tops and a few shot glasses. Good thing Justin only gave me a half hour here, or I would actually be broke.

Sunday the 22nd was Chinese New Years Eve. We spent the day going on a 10km tree top walk at the Macrichie Resevoir Park.

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At the entrance of the park was a large “family” of monkey which I fell in love with and spent way to long taking a photoshoot of them. They are the funniest animals ever. I was really disappointed that we didnt make it to the Singapore Zoo, but since I was able to see animals in their natural habitat, I got over it really fast.

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As we made our way through the nature reserve, we were able to see various species of wildlife; plants and animals. It was so hot and humid the higher we got, and the closer we made it to the top.

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When we finally arrived, it was absolutely breathtaking. The view from the suspension bridge was spectacular.

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 For some reason whilst hundreds of metres above the ground, when a normal person would be concerned about staying safe and sound on the bridge, the brilliant idea of planking for the first time came to mind. Justin chicken out, and I had to show him how it was done first. Another thing to check off the bucket list for sure=)

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Our descent from the tree top was just as exciting as the way up. I was able to get even closer with a monkey, and had a serious staring contest with it. It showed it’s teeth to me however, so I think I lost cause I was afraid it was going to pounce on me or do something unexpected and monkey-like.

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As we continues on our hike, two lizards probably thought it would be fun to jump out at me and scurry by my feet. rude. Overall the nature reserve was so beautiful, and the first bit of exercise I have done since being in Singapore.

Chinese New Year celebrations were next on the itinerary for my last night in Singapore. We first headed to Chinatown which was an absolute ZOO! It was so packed, and it was impossible to move anywhere. There were dancing dragons, people singing and lots of people surrounding the main stage watching the live show.

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It was now time to head to Marina Bay were the fireworks were going to be taking place. After grabbing dinner, the rain began to come down hard. I joked to Justin about if the “dragon” is the controller of water, it would of ensured it didn’t rain on Chinese New Year. not that great of a joke, but at the time I thought it was clever. These fireworks were the most spectacular and elaborate fireworks I have ever witnessed. I wasn’t in the greatest mood at the time, and wasn’t feeling quite myself, howevere these fireworks turned my mood right around. They were set over the water in front of Marina Bay Sands, and it was something you would see in the movies.

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Despite the torrential downpour, every rushed out of the shelter to get a better view. My already see through shirt, got even more see through. It was SOO worth it though, and was the perfect ending to my trip to Singapore.

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After the fireworks we ended up heading home and on our way we walked through the NUS campus. Taking pictures at every possible photospot occured quite frequently. This was definately one of my favourite memories in Singapore so far.

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It is know 330pm, and as I reflect on my time in Asia, I can conclude I love it here. Everything has been amazing; the people, places and memories. I have taken so many pictures, and I love looking back and seeing everything I have done in such a short period of time. I catch my flight to Melbourne tonight at 830pm, and will be greeted by friends on the other end in the morning. This is when my real adventure begins. I have been living a real vacation here in Singapore; living out of a suitcase. However whilst in Melbourne, I will be starting my new life. I like to think of this experience as a commercial break from my real life in Canada. As if my life was just put on pause, and I am taking these 5 months to accomplish many things I always have wanted to, while being able to study… I’m really excited to finally settle down in my own place, and unpack. Living out of a suitcase is alot harder than you’d think haha.

It’s time to end this blog post. Time to chill/cheese/moss out with Justin and my new friends for the last hour I have in Singapore. It’s been great and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.

I am so happy I am able to get started on my new/temporary life, and hope you can all follow me throughout my various adventures.

Peace, Love and Chicken Rice;; ❤

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Be right back Singapore, Bintan Island Indonesia here I come!

After a great few days in Singapore, it was time to take a “commercial break” and head over to Bintan Island, Indonesia for 3 days. On Monday morning, we made our way to the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal for our 2pm departure time. Rushing to make our ferry, we jumped into a cab and made it to the terminal by 145pm. Due to a bit of confusion after arriving, we were pushed back to the 5pm ferry as Justin’s passport # didn’t match on his boarding pass. Silly boy.

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For SGP $20 a night, we didn’t hold too high of expectations for the room we would be staying in for our trip. Bintan Cabana Beach Resort was the name of the resort that we chose. It was much nicer than both of us expected. Since it is a “down” time in the resorts bookings, as Chinese New Years is coming up on the weekend, the room we found off “hostel world” was one of their nicer rooms. Our room had two twin beds, a bathroom, TV, and a patio that walked out onto the beach.

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The first night was spent roaming the resort grounds, grabbing a quick bite to eat at the resort restaurant, and calling it an early night for a long day in the sun…

Goodmorning Indonesia! Its bright and early, and it’s finally time to explore this resort further in daylight! The water level in the morning is very low, and you are able to walk quite far into the “ocean” without getting wet. As the day goes on, the water level raises rapidly and within a metre from shore the water is up to your knees. Around the corner from our resort was a sea of rocks.. a perfect opportunity for climbing and a photo.. duh.

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Next, we saw a fishing village in the distance. It looked like it was abandoned, but Justin believes it is still used quite frequently. At this point in the day, I didn’t notice how strong the sun was, and I underestimated the chance I could get seriously burnt.. woops.

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After our small tour, we headed to the pool for the “afternoon.” After lounging by the pool for about 1 hour I noticed I was starting to seriously burn. Trying to cover myself by the little bit of shade in the area didn’t seen to help. The Indonesian sun got me good, and it was time to head inside for the remainder of the day. Nothing like a 4 hour nap before dinner time… on the menu, BBQ Chicken Pizza!

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Wednesday morning came a lot faster than both of us wanted/expected. After waking up at around noon, we decided to take advantage of the free shuttle service to the “sister” resort called Bintan Agro Beach Resort which was a short 10 minute drive down the road. This resort is known to foster a more “family” oriented feel, as it provides various water sports, and activities. After we toured around the resort, we realized we lucked out by picking our resort over this one. We caught the next shuttle bus back to Cabana, so we could chill out before our City Tour of Indonesia in the evening.

As soon as 6’clock arrived, it was time for our city tour. We jumped aboard a shuttle bus and it brought us about 1 hour into the main city of Indonesia. The first stop was the Ramayama Supermarket. This was comparable to your every day Walmart, Zellers, or Target. Lots of sale item closes, shoes, accessories, and cosmetics. After the Supermarket, we walked down the street and there were a few things that I noticed about Indonesia that were quite different to Canada…

  1. Gas for Motorcycles were sold in large water bottles. They were sold by your everyday street vendor.
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  2. Children as young as 5 were working the street shops. I purchased a bottle of juice and this little boy gave me my change. For a iced tea it was 6,000 rupiah, which equals about $0.84 Canadian.
  3. There is no such thing as being “stuck in traffic.” People whiz inbetween each other to get to where they need to go. Since the majority of the population drive motorcycles, they are able to accurately predict where pedestrians are going to be, and how they can drive past/through oncoming traffic. Also, there is no such thing as “seatbelts” in shuttle buses.
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  4. Dogs and cats roam the streets everywhere.
  5. I should be a “local” attraction to the town of Indonesia. I had locals cheering, screaming, laughing, pointing, waving, and nudging their friends to look at me cause I am caucasian. It was quite funny, its most likely true that I was probably one of the only caucasian people they have seen, other than in the movies in this specific city.
  6. The fish market is a daily tradition for many of the locals in this specific city area in Indonesia. They come to the market between 5-10pm and chose from a variety of different sea food delicacies…
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  7. I took 250,000 rupiahs out of the ATM. That converted to $26CDN. Crazy eh?

As 11pm struck, it was time to board the shuttle bus back to the resort for the night. It was going to be an early morning as we had to catch our ferry back to Singapore at 930am.

Other than the sunburn, Indonesia was amazing. It was a huge culture shock when we went into the city, but it was so nice to see a different way of living. The hospitality provided by the resort workers was exceptional. They truely appreciated and charish every guest that steps foot on their property, and they make sure they have the best experience and stay possible. The taste of Asia, really has got me intrigued on where else I would like to visit and travel to later in my life.

I am now safe and sound back in Singapore for the remainder of my time in SE Asia. The plan for the evening is not yet set in stone, but I may be headed back over to Nanyang to hang out with Lianne and the girls, or I may go to Justin’s old residence to meet up with a few of his friends. Oh, how the options are endless.

This is me signing off, catch cha all on the flip side!

Selamat Tinggal ! ❤

Botanical Gardens – Orchard St. – Sentosa Island – Nanyang Tech Uni

My Singapore checklist is slowly being accomplished day by day and I am so happy! This past weekend (Jan 14-15th) was very relaxing and productive… I know that is a quite contradictory statement but it isnt further from the truth.

Saturday morning we took the MRT to the Botanical Gardens. The BG is an large park with various species of plants, flowers, and animals to be seen.

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As we made our way down a narrow path by the water I couldn’t help but notice a black object that way passing through the water just to my left. I looked a little closer, and to my uder surprise and shock it was a Komodo Dragon, or similar species to the Komodo Dragon! There goes my Fight and Flight Response in over drive. Not only have I NEVER seen one of these before in a cage or a secluded, blocked off viewing area, but I was a few metres away from this in its natural habitat! We actually saw the “dragon” first hand attack a fish and kill it to eat. yuck.

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Various species of fish and turtles can be found within the Botanical Gardens park. I love turtles so much… the chocolate and the amphibians =)

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A small exhibiti which is a also in the BG is the Orchid Gardens. I think I have found myself a new favourite flower. They are absolutally beautiful as they grow quite abundant, and have the more vivid colours.

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Within the Orchid Garden I found a piece of wood that reminded me of a face, and more specifically the face of the “Sorting Hat” in Harry Potter. Check this out…

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After a long walk through the BG’s it was time for some shopping, and where better than the outdoor and indoor shopping centre called Orchard. I have never seen a bigger and more extensive network of unique stores, cafes, and attractions than I did on this street. The Forever 21 was 4 floors! It was so overwhelming I ended up leaving empty handed.

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Next on the agenda was to head to Sentosa Island for a beach party to meet up with my lovely LIANNE PITTS from UWO for the Singapore Exchange students. It was surreal to see her half way across the world! This party was like nothing that I have ever been to before, I have never been to a party where there are people are surfing at the bar, swimming pools all around and a beach at your disposal if you have the urge to go for a little dip. Despite my clothing choice for the evening (didn’t bring a bathing suit), I was still forced/persuaded/volunteered to go for a swim in the Ocean midway through the night. The water was ABSOLUTALLY beautiful, and what a perfect setting and place to catch up with good ole’ Lianne. The night ended off with a 20 pk of chicken nuggets meal, and the funniest cab ride back to Lianne’s University.

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Nanyang Technological University is where Lianne is studying for the semester and the campus has a very similar feeling as Western. It is a large one-piece campus with various residences, food centres, and unique shaped buildings which gives it extreme character. If you have also been following Lianne’s blog, you might have noticed her small panic attack about the Hall in which she has been staying in for the last week or so. She is not lying when she says it is comparable to a jail cell. Saugeen is a palace compared to it. Okay, i’m over exaggerating a tad, but compared to the other Halls avaliable, she said she got the short end of the stick. I guess for less than SGP $200 per month, you can’t really complain. With a few decorations, it will feel like home in no time i’m sure 🙂 love you Lannaline. When we finally woke up the next morning after sharing a twin size bed the night before we met up with a few of her friends who are also from Western studying at NTU as well. We went to Canteen 2 which is one of the food areas on campus serving a variety of asian style dishes, drinks, and desserts… mmmm. Never have I ever had a better nutella banada waffle in my life. The food at her Uni is so cheap! A full plate of veggies, rice and chicken for SGP $2.. which is less than 2$ Canadian! I really liked her campus, and could definately see myself being happy studying there!

After spending the day on her campus, planning trips for the future and hanging out in the Global Lounge, Lianne and I spontaneous decided we wanted to go to Clarke Quay to walk around and spend our evening. It only took about 3 different MRT metro lines, 3 buses and a shuttle to make it back to get there but it was so worth it. I had been to Clarke Quay a few days before in the day, but the nightlife is amazing here. Not to mention the weather was absolutally beautiful. As we made our way through Clarke Quay we grabbed some gelato for SGP $6.50. I figure that since I am on “vacation” I am allowing myself to splurge on my desserts and expensive food choices… this may/will catch up on me in the long run I know. May have to hit up the Bank of Daddy eventually 🙂 Overall I am SOO happy that I was able to plan meeting up with Lianne, it has been hard adjusting to being away from UWO, and being able to see a familiar face of someone who is going through the same thing is very helpful. We are planning to meet up again on Thursday afternoon when I get back from my “vacation” to head to a shopping area called Bogis. I can’t wait =)

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The last couple days have been nothing short of amazing, I have taken some amazing pictures, and have had some great experiences. I am off to Bintan Island, Indonesia this afternoon until Thursday for a few days of lounging on the beach. The sun in Singapore is extremely hot, and you will burn. I should probably pick up some sunscreen before I leave if I don’t want to be a lobster for the remainder of my trip!

Time for a shower, skype session and I need to pack for my trip away! Catch cha on the flip side peeps! =)

Vivocity – Clarke Quay – Chinatown – Marina Bay – Clementi

After a much needed 13 hour sleep to overcome my jet-lag, Justin and myself started our day in Singapore. Our first stop of the day was Vivocity…

Vivocity: One of the main shopping centres located in the heart of Singapore, Vivocity was amazing! The MRT (metro/subway) is directed attached to the mall making it super easy to get here. There were some very similar stores to what we have in Canada, and some that were completelly different. My favourite store however was the National Geographic store. Located inside was a Freeze Chamber, where you could pay $1 SGP to stand inside as the temperature dropped to below -10 degrees celcius with the additon of severe winds  for 1 minute. For many Singaporians, this would be extremely unBEARable, but for myself a Canadian used to extreme temperatures, it was a piece of cake.

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As I continued through the mall, I past a set of kiosk/boothes where authentic cultural artifacts and instruments were on display. “CANADA, CANADA, CANADA!” was yelled out at me, when I past one particular booth. Stunned as to how these people guessed I was Canadian, I went up and talked to them. They pointed down to my shirt, and surely enough I was wearing a Molson Canadian tee. Way to not make it obvious that I’m a tourist Samantha…

Clarke Quay: The “downtown” area of Singapore. Many shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes are all centred here.

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As soon as we crossed the bridge, I spotted this tall metal structure with a ball attached by two bungy cords. Looked pretty scary and adrenaline pumping… I was so there! For $30 SGP, Justin and I were able to be launched 60metres in the air at 200mph in the GMAX Bungy stunt. It was AMAZING, and definately set the pace for the rest of the day!!!

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Chinatown: I have never been to a Chinatown, even in Downtown Toronto, so experiencing a “real” Chinatown for the first time was overwhelming. On a Friday afternoon, this place was packed! Filled with jewerly shops, food markets, clothing booths and decorative pieces, there is something for everyone. I bought a few decorations for my new room in Australia, to remind me of my time in Singapore. Having Justin around was definately beneficial, he is experienced with dealing with the bargaining with the shopkeepers.

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Throughout Chinatown, there are also various temples that are beautifully decorated. Before entering you were instructed to take off your shoes, and to cover your legs. I didn’t get the memo about covering my legs, and a worker ensured I leave or cover up. woops!

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Something interesting I learned while in Chinatown is it is illegal to bring the fruit below on any form of public transportation. The reason being it gives off an awful smell, and is unpleasant for other customers.

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Marina Bay: The second last stop on our day trip was to Marina Bay. From all the pictures that Justin had posted previously I was so excited to see this place myself. The itinerary for Marina Bay included the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark, the ArtScience Museum with included the Titanic 100 year Anniversary Exhibit, and the Merlion.

We met up with a Axel, a swedish exchange student and started our tour. Marina Bay Sands is one of the most expensive hotels/resort/casinos in Singapore averaging around 500$+ a night. It is a very iconic structure as there is a large cruise ship located on top, making it a very distinct landmark in the country.

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The SkyPark was so cool. You were able to take an elevator 57 floors up and get a glimpse of the skyline from the boat. It was a panoramic view that can’t be described with words, or even multiple pictures.

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The ArtScience Museum with the Titanic Exhibit was a dream come true for me. Titanic is one of my favourite movies of all time, so this was a MUST SEE. No flash photography was allowed inside due to copyright laws (n). It was SPECTACULAR. The artifacts that were discovered from being at the bottom of the ocean for over 70 years were incredible. One piece that really stook out for me was a wallet discovered which was believed to belong to a 56 yr old man from Toronto, Canada. Other facts I learned about the Titanic through this exhibit was they originally had enough lifeboats for the majority of the passengers (32 boats), but very last minute they reduced the number to only 20 for extra space on the ship. I’d say that wasn’t the best idea… I was blown away when I went through the Grand Stairs set. It looks IDENTICAL to the one in the movie where “Rose” walks down. I think I almost cried. I think if I died today, I would be satified since I saw that… don’t worry Dad I promise I will be safe 🙂

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The next and final stop at Marina Bay was to see the Merlion. The Merlion is 50% creature and 50% lion. The continuous flow from the lion head symbolizes how Singapore continues to be prosperous. The Merlion has also been referred to as “Singapore’s Statue of Liberty.”

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Clementi: After a long day of sightseeing, it was time to head home… but not without a stop at the Clementi Mall to grab some “party needs.” 5 cases of Tiger Beer later, we made it home safe and sound. I can’t wait to start my next couple days in Singapore before we head over to Bintan Island, Indonesia to lounge for a few days! 

Welcome to Singapore!

Yay, I finally made it to Singapore. With 21 hours of being airbourne and being awake for over 36hours I finally touched down. After immigration and collecting my baggage, I made my way to catch a Taxi outside the Airport. I really should’nt of been so naive to how many taxi drivers are able to take advantage of tourists and take them on a wild goose chase all throughout Singapore in hopes they don’t notice they are trying to rack up the cab fare. My driver took me in every which way, and had no idea where my friends residence was in the first place. Not to mention the language barrier was a major issue. Neither of us could understand each other, which led to more confusion. Afterall, I eventually made it to University Town which is a part of the National University of Singapore’s campus.

After getting a few hours of sleep I was ready to see what this place was all about. We grabbed a Starbucks which is a 1 minute walk from his residence *super handy :)* and started my guided tour. We caught a free shuttle which brought us to the main campus which is called Kent Ridge. From there, I was shown many of the buildings where his classes were held, and the various cafeterias and dinning options. It was a very similar set up to “Centre Spot” at Western. My first meal was Teriyaki Pepper Rice, which ultimately was teriyaki chicken on rice, vegetables, with a side cup of soup.

Here are a few things I have learned/noticed about Singapore in only one day…

  1. Construction occurs all the time. Everything is constantly being renovated or enhanced.
  2. Racquet sports are very big here. Tennis, squash, etc.
  3. It is winter season at the moment and it is still over 20 degrees. I am in shorts and a t-shirt and many people are currently wearing jeans and sweaters.
  4. Wednesday nights downtown is “Ladies Night”… meaning we get to drink for free.
  5. Cars are very expensive here. A Honda Civic in CAD is about $13,000 – $15,000, however in Singapore it is close to $100,000.
  6. A drivers permit for 10 years also costs $50,000.
  7. Singapore doesn’t have LCBO’s or Beer Stores. You purchase your alcohol at places like 7-11.

Justin is in a 4 hour lab at the moment so I decided I would plant myself in the local Starbucks. This Starbucks is apparently one of the largest in Asia, as it has a huge indoor and outdoor seating area with Wifi. I think when he is done class for the day, I am going to be shown downtown, and we may go out later tonight.

So much time, so much to do!