Archive for October, 2009

19 October 2009

Finding Singapore

by misslampa

The negative that has been said about Singapore, it’s all true. It is densely populated and this makes rush hours impossible, it’s too urbanized for some bakasyonistas, too pricey compared to most Asian countries, and too touristic that you get the feeling most of what you see is just for show.

Here’s us posing with the merlion, that mythical creature which has become Singapore’s mascot.

But why should all that stop you from appreciating Singapore for what it unabashedly is: a first-world country that thrives on tourism and meeting the demands of our consumerist culture? Yes, there’s a mall at every corner. Yeah, water is three to five times more expensive – and almost everything else, for that matter. But yes, tourists from all over are still flocking to this island, and I’d like to think it’s not just because Singapore has one of the most efficient and orderly public transport systems. Or that foreigners can buy a Gucci without having to pay the 7% government service tax.

The Luge part of the Sentosa Skyline-Luge ride at the Imbiah Lookout

Because really, if you can find it in yourself to enjoy everything that others find annoying about this country, then a trip to Singapore can’t possibly disappoint you. Because, as in every other place, there’s a lot to experience here – from the hustle and bustle of Chinatown to the tourist attractions at the Imbiah Lookout and even the hope one can’t help but feel while silently declaring one’s wishes to the universe at the Fountain of Wealth.

Clarke Quay in broad daylight

And perhaps it’s just the kid in me, but I think capping a night off with their one-dollar treat – ice cream sandwiched between two wafers – is quite fun as well. :) I didn’t get to experience Clarke Quay at night because I was with my family, but because of this as well, I got to see all three animal parks [Jurong Birdpark, Singapore Zoo and Night Safari], attend mass at Singapore’s oldest cathedral, and learn a bit about how Singapore came to be at the Images of Singapore Museum.

And the biggest delight of all: seeing my parents’ faces light up like a child’s as they watched the lights and fire show entitled “Songs of the Sea” in Sentosa. For that alone, I’d be willing to fly to Singapore again.

The trick, to my mind, is to look not for what about this or that makes you miss home or how this or that is much better here than in any other town or city you’ve been to. You simply look for Singapore – food, places, people, the works – and that’s exactly what you’ll be delighted to find. :-)

19 Oct ’09 , 12:59 a.m.

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*And yes, the news that bubble gum is no longer outlawed in Singapore is just as true.

19 October 2009

Five More Get Coronized

by misslampa

It’s four days of breathtaking sights and natural wonders shared with a bunch who are such fun to travel with, provided that your idea of fun is having people poke fun at everything you say – regardless of whether you’re actually making sense.

Meet my Coron-Culion gang! That’s me with the yellow sarong around her neck in both pictures. The guy with the glasses is Eric, and the one without is Emir. The other girl with specs is Dat, and the girl without is Marchie.

 

If you want to experience Palawan but don’t have money for the pricier Puerto Princesa, there’s simply no other way but to “Coronize” yourself – and to get “Culionized” on the side too if you have an extra day or two.

Welcome to Coron!

 

Of course, the famed underground river is still in my must-see list – and one day, I hope to be there. Still, you’d never hear me complain about getting to swim in the Cayangan Lake, snorkel in Siete Pecados Marine Park and lie on the pristine sand of Malcapuya and Banana Islands.

To give you an idea of what’s waiting for you in Northern Palawan, take a look at some of  my snapshots:

We hung out in style (I hope) by the balcony on stilts of the house which became our home while we were there.

 

Believe it or not, this was one of the house’s restrooms! As Eric demonstrated in these pictures, one has to kneel down to get in – and stay down while you’re doing your business in the toilet.

 

Both near Maquinit Hot Springs: The mangroves are a sight to behold, and this bridge on stilts makes for a good photo.

 

We started at the foot of Mt. Tapyas, and 700+ steps later, we were greeted by this big steel crucifix.

 

The waters of Lake Cayangan run deep, and the rock formations around it tower majestically. It has been repeatedly hailed as the cleanest lake in all of Southeast Asia and is also a UN-protected site because some tribes live around the area. Worth the trek, I tell ya.

 

En route to the lake, we passed by this picture-perfect spot. :-)
[Don’t ask me why such was my pose. I seriously have no idea why.]

The Siete Pecados Marine Park is around an hour away from the town proper but this shouldn’t be a problem because you can easily join a tour to get there. Here, you can see me channeling the Oble and getting ready to snorkel.

 

Part of the tour we took included a trip to the Twin Lagoon. If you’re brave enough to go under this rock formation, you’re gonna find yourself in the smaller of the two lagoons around 6 seconds after. Keep your head under the water at all times, though, as the rocks are quite jagged.

 

It’s a challenge to get to the privately-owned Malcapuya and Banana Islands, both of which are hours away from Coron. It’s best to gather a group of ten or so people so you can hire a boat for a day and split the hefty P4,500 boat rental. (2009 price) Both beaches are as secluded as they are breathtaking!

 

We rode the smaller boat to get to Malcapuya and Banana Islands, while the bigger one (although oddly enough, more cramped) took us from Coron to Culion and vice-versa. I have no idea why I was sitting in the middle of the men with whom we rented the boat instead of with my friends in the first picture, so don’t ask.

 

We trekked under the pouring rain to get close to this Giant Jesus in Culion. I’d advise against trekking when it’s raining, though, as many of the steps are covered in moss and can be very slippery when wet.

 

This is Culion’s Immaculate Conception Church. I think the red hues give the place a vibrant and happy vibe.Ü

 

There’s also this campsite in Culion called Pulang Lupa – and if you’re lucky as we were when we were there, you’d get to see this burst of colors at sunrise. Yes, AT SUNRISE. Weird, no? :-)

 

My pictures don’t give Northern Palawan justice, but you’d have to take my word, dearest friends: For four days, I’d really dare say that the five of us were dreaming awake. I swear, the place was that serene and beautiful.

 

–O_o–