aquarium in SG river safari

For this Singapore trip, I spent one whole day in the animal kingdom, still solo. But I didn’t mind. I went to River Safari, Singapore Zoo, and Night Safari. I would’ve wanted to insert Jurong Bird Park on this day, but I figured it’s gonna be an overkill (visiting the three parks was exhausting enough already).

The three parks are just situated in one area in 80 Mandai Lake Road, so traveling from one park to another is not a problem ‘coz you can just walk. Jurong Bird Park, however, is in 2 Jurong Hill, which is already out of the way.

River Safari

Operating Hours: 9am-6pm daily
Website: http://riversafari.com.sg/

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River Safari, Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park, is the easiest to navigate — it is the smallest among the 3 parks, and you just have to go in one direction to see all the animals. The most popular attraction here are the pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia. Long queues for the panda sightseeing are expected during the weekends. I was lucky enough to be there in the morning and on a weekday. I think they’re very cute even when they’re just doing ordinary things like walking, climbing trees, or scratching their butt using the tree branches! :)) (Rating: )

I purchased a ticket for the Amazon River Quest because I didn’t think my visit to the River Safari would be complete without it. The Amazon River Quest is a 10-minute boat ride that takes you down the mysterious South American river where you’ll meet the amazing wildlife that come from the world’s largest tropical rainforest. It’s a sad thing, though, if the animals are nowhere to be seen or are very far from you.

walking around SG

When I arrived in Singapore on June 25 midnight (June 26 early morning) and was on my way to Happy Snail Hostel (Rating: ), I was very pleased with what I saw — super clean streets and tall buildings everywhere! It made me look forward to the days ahead!

Checking in to the hostel when everyone was asleep and the sun was nowhere to be found was nothing like I imagined — no dark alleys and scary “tambays”. It was made easier by the instructions sent in by Mike, the hostel owner.

My official first day in Singapore was spent walking around and getting to know the city. All the transportation details I originally wrote down were for buses, and I figured there’s a bigger chance I’d get lost by bus than by MRT, so I ditched the notes and just relied on Google Maps and the SG MRT/LRT map. A very big thanks to those two for guiding me everywhere! :D

singapore

I spent 7 days in foreign land on the last week of June 2014, and I couldn’t be more happy about it, especially because it was my first time to go abroad! On the first half of the trip, I was alone (yup, solo travel!), and on the second half, I was with Mumu.

My itinerary was pretty much DIY, but I had a few helpful sources (e.g. Tripomatic). I spent days researching about hostels, tourist spots, transportation, and most especially, how to go through Philippine immigration successfully!

This post contains personal experience and travel information. I’m putting this out there in case a first-timer (like I was) would need these basic details. :)

Airport Procedures

The schedule of my flight to Singapore was 7:55pm on June 25 (traveling for 3 hours and 40 minutes). I arrived at the airport 3 hours before the time of departure because I was readying for the worst (in case something happens during the interview with the immigration officer). The gates opened at 5pm, and I proceeded to the check-in counter. I already checked in online but I needed to have my boarding pass printed. Since there was no one behind the counter yet, I went to pay the travel tax (P1,620; only showed passport). When I already had the print-out of my boarding pass, I proceeded to pay the terminal fee (P550; showed boarding pass and receipt of payment for travel tax). We waited until the doors to the Philippine immigration opened at 6pm.

bucas grande

Bucas Grande Island is located in Socorro, Surigao del Norte (though the island is commonly known to the locals as just “Socorro”) and is still part of the Siargao Islands. You can travel to the island via boat from mainland Surigao del Norte (Hayanggabon Port) for around two hours, or from the main Siargao Island (Dapa Port, like we did) for around an hour.

Ready for the early morning trip!
Ready for the early morning trip!

After checking in and leaving our things at Island Vacations Country Inn (located at the 2nd floor of the bakery at the first corner when coming from the port), we rented a bangka to get to Sohoton. The tour in the island included the following: Sohoton Cove National Park (parts of which were Hagukan Cave and Magkukuob Cave), Stingless Jellyfish Sanctuary, and Crystal Cave.

Note: Most of the photos I have here are just screengrabs from Mumu’s videos.

surfing in siargao

Since Siargao is known as the surfing capital of the Philippines, you wouldn’t want to miss out on a chance to ride the waves on a surfboard! This was the main reason we went back to the island for a second time. :)

During our first time, being the very accommodating host that he is, Cocoy gave us some preliminary lessons (which was just the same as the official lessons) on surfing before we embarked on the real thing. He taught us how to position ourselves on the surfboard, stand up, do the stance, and balance on the board (but we weren’t on a board yet, so we just had to imagine). It’s a little daunting, especially when you think you’re too heavy to lift your body up or that you have a weak core. But if you just stand up slowly to gain balance, it’s actually pretty simple! It also helps to know your own footedness, whether you’re natural-footed (left foot forward) or goofy-footed (right foot forward). I’m the latter, though I haven’t attempted surfing with my left foot forward to see if I can also be natural-footed. :))

The only surf spot we’ve tried was in Jacking Horse. What I remember of our surfing expenses is that the board cost around PHP300 for whole day rental (long board is ideal for beginners), and the instructor fee was also around PHP300 per hour.

mikyu-with-surfboard

surfing-friends