Two days are barely enough to explore a foreign place, yet somehow I’ve found myself taking the shortest of trips to two destinations within the span of a year.
It’s not like I’m some crazy rich Asian who can jet off to a neighboring country for a weekend on a whim. Crazy, definitely. Asian, undoubtedly. Rich? I’ve partaken in so many Yee Sang tosses that I’ve made a joke out of them already, because what prosperity? Really though, in Taiwan‘s case it was for work, and for Singapore… well, I wanted to make it home in time for the season finale of Game of Thrones.
Also, two days is slightly more practical than flying to Singapore just to satisfy my cravings for authentic Laksa and Hainanese Chicken, and go back home—an idea that really had been simmering in my head for the longest time.
Since I now seem to be well-versed in the art of short vacations, yes, I was able to make the most out of those 50 hours—Merlion optional.
Explore the Hotel
I was fortunate to be billeted at the Hotel Jen, courtesy of my best friend Fiona‘s work privileges.
While there’s a case to be made about choosing a hotel that’s just enough as a place to shower and sleep, I do have an inclination for good accommodations within reason. That also means I like taking my time and maximizing my stay by using the amenities.
One morning, Fiona and I decided to laze around by the pool, and it was time well-spent. Cocktails, cool waters to beat off the warm sun, and a great view of Singapore make the slight splurge worth it.
Walk Around the Neighborhood
Hotel Jen, a Shangri-La Hotel, was situated right along the Lion City’s bustling Orchard Road. It was literally on top of everything, from cafés to restaurants, and shopping centers—handy, if you’re on limited time like we were.
A surprise was right across our hotel: Emerald Hill, a small neighborhood with old-world charm. Here, the buildings are carefully conserved to reflect Peranakan architecture, and are as Instagrammable as they get.
Hit Up a Tourist Trap or Two…
With the clock ticking, and a desire to see a lot of things in such a short amount of time, there’s no need to be too hipster. I was perfectly content to revisit the always majestic Marina Bay Sands, though it was just along the way to my preferred destination, Gardens by the Bay.
While I have been to Singapore before, back then The Gardens weren’t completed yet, so I took the opportunity to check it off my to-visit list.
Despite our fervent attempts to avoid the Merlion at all costs, disappointing as it was for me the first time around (not sure what Fiona’s excuse is), we somehow managed to find ourselves there when we got lost on our way to the Gardens, go figure.
… But Take a Step Off the Beaten Path
In other words: GO TO THE HARRY POTTER-THEMED CAFÉ!
I’ve heard about Platform 1094 since they opened, and of course, being a Potterhead through and through, I just had to go. I even brought my Ravenclaw scarf for this very important occasion, and luckily Fiona was also a fellow fan.
The journey wasn’t that easy compared to our other destinations: Platform 1094 was in a smaller town, and required a bus ride from the MRT, then a little bit of walking. Needless to say, we were rather exhausted by the time we arrived, but it was nothing their drinks couldn’t help. Someone had the butterbeer, while I went straight for the Goblet of Fire cocktail—appropriately named for its flaming effect.
Line Up for Irvins Salted Egg Chips
I confess to being completely clueless on these things, but now I know better.
Fiona was insistent on bringing some for her friends back home, and since I hadn’t thought of any souvenirs on my own, I decided to get some as well. Our hotel was right above the Orchard Gateway, where there was a branch of Irvins Salted Egg. Taking our proximity for granted, we dallied for a bit in our room, but still decided to go down an hour before the mall opened. To our surprise, there was a long AF line snaking through the lobby already.
I firmly believe that the best way to experience a different country is through its food. Without question, my pocket money will mostly be spent on food I can never, or rarely, get at home. So, yes to hawker centers, yes to Hainanese Chicken, yes to Curry, and, well, yes to Tiger Beer, because why not.
Brief as my weekend in Singapore was, I could genuinely say that I enjoyed every minute of it. I remember work trips in which the itinerary was so busy I barely felt I was in a new place at all, and while I’m always grateful for the opportunity to travel, it was refreshing being able to explore a new destination at my own pace. On to the next vacation, whether it may be long or short.
Besides, no regrets coming home early, when it’s Game of Thrones we’re talking about.