Hello From Singapore

singapore outfit by 14 shades of grey

Just a quick post to let you guys know my week in Singapore is going well. It’s been raining almost every day, so it’s a lot cooler than I expected. I could’ve worn jeans if I wanted to! Still, I didn’t regret my packing strategy – I have plenty of choices for mix-and-match. The above outfit is a good sampler of what I wear most days (often I would have to add my blazer as well, because like I said, Singaporeans like their AC set to “arctic”.) I actually left a pair of sandals at home – three pairs of shoes are plenty – and I didn’t miss them at all.

I’m pretty busy with my students in classes and on excursions so I won’t be able to post much in the next two weeks, but there will be SIA posts on Monday as usual. See you guys!


Singapore Packing List II

Remember when I went to Singapore for 3 days to see Dylan Moran back in 2015? And I said I wished I had stayed longer? Well, wish granted – I’m going to back Singapore, for 3 weeks this time, on a work trip. I’m shepherding a group of students to participate in an exchange program with another university there, which is pretty exciting. Still, I’m glad that I’ve already been to Singapore; that means I can better focus on my task and help the students instead of figuring out a new country.

Of course, it helps with the packing as well. I’ve never packed for a business trip before, but luckily it’s a pretty casual affair, so my packing list came together pretty quickly. I didn’t have the time to doodle or paint it this time, so a quick photo will have to do:

singapore packing list by 14 shades of grey

Tops: 2 button-ups (white & blue print), 2 sleeveless blouses (white & blue print), 2 dressy tees (black & white), and 2 casual tees (black & gray)

Bottoms: 2 wide-leg pants (black & white), 1 casual navy linen pants, & 1 dressy gray linen pants

Shoes: 1 pair of black flats and 2 pairs of sandals (brown & nude)

Accessories: 1 scarf, 1 necklace, 1 brooch

As you can see, it’s all light, natural fabric in neutral colors, to maximize the mix and match. Now, the difficult thing is that we’re having a cold snap here in Hanoi, meaning I’m going to travel from one climate to another. So I had to plan a separate airplane outfit, something that’s warm enough and can still be worn in Singapore:

singapore airplane outfit by 14 shades of grey

My trusty striped tee, a black blazer, black khaki pants, a big (but light) scarf, and sneakers. We’re going to walk a lot, so the sneakers are a must, and they tend to crank their AC to “arctic”, so I suspect the scarf and blazer won’t be superfluous either. With each trip, my packing gets a little better, so we’ll see how well I packed this time!


Singapore Day 3

On my last morning in Singapore, I had a couple of hours before the airport shuttle arrived, so instead of rushing out to hit another tourist spot, I decided to just take a walk around the neighborhood. I stumbled upon the cutest residential street – what I find really interesting about Singapore’s townhouses is that they are all builtĀ overĀ the pavement, to create a covered sidewalk that is perfect to walk under. Also, each house’s facade is decorated with colorful tiles and swing doors. Very pretty.

singapore street

singapore street

singapore street

singapore mailbox

singapore house

singapore catAnd of course, I found the local cat

I also wandered briefly through Chinatown. Apparently Singaporeans start their weekend really late, because it was 9 AM and most of the shops were closed, and the only people around were tourists and old people. I could only imagine how amazing it must be at night, with the lanterns all lit up and the market opened.

singapore chinatown

singapore chinatown

singapore chinatown

singapore chinatown

And that, sadly, was the end of my trip. It has been absolutely wonderful, and I was surprised that I like Singapore a lot more than I expected. It was not the boring concrete jungle that I thought, but a friendly, vibrant city with a great mix of cultures and a character of its own. Now I wish I could’ve stayed longer!


Singapore Day 2

My second day in Singapore began with me rolling out of bed amid groaning and cursing because my feet have swollen from walking the previous night (I’m terribly out of shape, in case you can’t tell). But I sucked it up because I knew I had a full day of exploring ahead of me, starting with —

10 AM: the Singapore Botanic Gardens. I love nature, so I always look for the botanic gardens in every town I visit if possible. It’s a nice place to hang out, it’s usually free, and there are tons of pretty things to look at. And Singapore Botanic Gardens check all of those boxes.

singapore botanic gardens

singapore botanic gardens

singapore botanic gardens

Also, make sure to check out the Orchid Garden – it costs only S$5, and totally worth it.

singapore botanic gardenssingapore botanic gardens

singapore botanic gardens

singapore botanic gardens

singapore botanic gardens

1 PM: There were still a lot of places at the Gardens that I haven’t seen, but I wanted to visit Little India, so I headed off.

And I’m telling you, Little India is a whole different world. The vibrant sights and sounds and smells are like nothing I’ve experienced before.

singapore little india

singapore little india

singapore little india

singapore little india

singapore little india

singapore little india

I also dropped by Haji Lane, a little side street with charming boutiques nestled between eclectic coffee shops and bars. It actually reminds me a lot of the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

singapore haji lane

singapore haji lanesingapore haji lane

singapore haji lane

singapore haji lanesingapore haji lane

singapore haji lane

5 PM: Before the trip, I’ve heard about this bookstore called Books Actually that is not far from my hostel, so now I headed there. It’s a cool place, but they don’t carry any of the authors that I usually read (it’s mostly poetry, art/design, and local authors), so I just spent my time wandering between the shelves enjoying that bookstore vibe.

singapore books actually

singapore books actually

singapore books actually

I wish I was able to go to Littered with Books as well, but the show started at 8 PM and I needed to pick up my ticket at 7, so I went back to the hostel for a much-needed shower and some dinner.

7 PM: Arrived at Nation University of Singapore’s Cultural Center Hall for the Dylan Moran show. So excited!!!

singapore dylan moran

I could fill an entire post with my rambling about the show, but I’ll try to keep this short with a few bullet points:

– It was hilarious (of course). I love his rants about middle age and about getting pets for his kids, and his version of 50 Shades (yes, really!) had me in stitches.

– One of his jokes is how fat he’s gotten since he quit smoking, but even from my nosebleed seat, I could see that he looks trimmer, younger, and healthier than he did in photos.

– I’m only bummed that they didn’t sell his little picture books after the show. I’ve always loved his doodles.

P/S: I sat next to a family – parents and two kids, both under 10. I wish my parents were that cool. Those kids are going to be awesome when they grow up.

singapore dylan moranAnd that concludes my second Singapore post. Last one to come next week!


Singapore Day 1

My previous travel posts are always organized by content, but this time I thought it would be easier to separate them by days. Hopefully it would be helpful as a sample itinerary too.

At first, I almost booked the trip just for 1.5 days because I thought there was nothing at Singapore that interested me. But in the end, I figured, I’ve never been there before, so I might as well see some of the sights. I spent a lot of time Googling “free things to do in Singapore” because I didn’t want to spend more than I already had, and lucky for me, Singapore has plenty of those. So, here’s what I did on my first day.

7 PM: Arrived at airport and took a shuttle to my hostel. I stayed at a tiny place; more like crashing on somebody’s couch than a hostel, but it’s really nice. Also a plus – there are always free bread, peanut butter, jam, and Nutella, so if I was really cheap, I could survive just on PB&J sandwiches (I didn’t though).

singapore plane

8 PM: After a quick dinner (I’m never an adventurous eater when I’m traveling since the last thing I want is an upset stomach, so no food porn photos, sorry!), I grabbed a map and headed into town via the Metro. Public transport in Singapore is cheap and super efficient. Even somebody who is terrible with directions like me couldn’t get lost!

I know I wanted to see Gardens by the Bay this first night, so I got off at the nearest station. It turns out to be one stop too soon, but it’s OK because it took me to Singapore downtown and the Marina promenade, which are amazing.

singapore metro stationColorful mural at a station

9 PM: Walking along the promenade and enjoying the view.

singapore downtown

singapore marinaThey were practicing dance moves. I don’t know if they’re a dance troupe or not, but it was fun to watch

singapore marina

singapore downtownsingapore downtown
There are ceiling fans on the promenade. That’s how hot it is.

10 PM: Found the garden! During the day, it costs about S$30 to go inside and see everything, but the grounds are always open, you can walk around for free, there are light shows at 8:45 PM (I missed it) and it’s less crowded at night.

singapore gardens by the bay

singapore gardens by the bay

singapore marinasingapore gardens by the bay

singapore gardens by the bay

singapore marina bay sands

11:30 PM: I know the Merlion statue is across the promenade, but I was too tired to drag myself there, so I went back to the hostel and crawled into bed. Yes, I missed that one touristy thing in Singapore, but I saw so many awesome things that I didn’t regret it.

gardens_by_the_bay