SINGAPORE ON A BUDGET: Food and Shopping

The best Hainanese Chicken Rice with Milo Dinosaur - two must-try popular food in Singapore

The best Hainanese Chicken Rice with Milo Dinosaur – two must-try popular food in Singapore

My friend, we are not only travellers.  We are also shopaholics and a hungry bunch, too.  In Singapore, we can also have our food and shopping adventure without damaging our pockets.  Here are my experiences on my recent Singapore getaway.

FOOD: Hawkers!!!

Maxwell Food Center at Chinatown.  It's just right across the Pagoda

Maxwell Food Center at Chinatown. It’s just right across the Pagoda

Singapore is also a place to fulfill your gastronomical adventures and hawker centers offer the best and cheapest option to taste the different flavors the country has to offer.  Depending on the food you will eat, you will spend around SGD 3 to 10 a meal per person.  For drinks, it ranges from SGD 0.90 to 3.  That is cheaper compared to eating at fast food joints or restaurants which may cost SGD 20 or more.

Long line at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Center.  Home of the best chicken rice for SGD 5 only!

Long line at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Center. Home of the best chicken rice for SGD 5 only!

As for desserts, walk on any street and look for any cart that sells ice cream sandwiched in wafer for only SGD 1.20.

The popular ice cream wafer at the streets of Singapore

The popular ice cream wafer at the streets of Singapore

To know more about the location of different hawker centers in SG, go to this website.

SHOPPING: go to street markets or grocery stores

Shopping for souvenirs at Chinatown

Shopping for souvenirs at Chinatown

Singapore is a mall rats wonderland!  There so many malls in this country full of shops catering to your different liking but may cost you an arm and a leg, or even your kidney or liver.  But if you want to save money, go to street markets instead.  I highly recommend that you go to Chinatown with 3 streets full of sellers of knick knacks of everything.

For SGD 10, you can buy either of the following:

  • 3 to 4 pieces of souvenir t-shirts
  • 4 to 6 pieces of ref magnets (depending on its size and material)
  • 6 pieces of key chains
  • 3 pieces of accordion fan
  • 3 to 6 pieces of wallets for ladies (depending on its size and material)
  • 3 to 4 pieces of table display (depending on its size and material, again)
  • 3 to 4 pieces of paper weights
  • 3 to 6 pieces of lucky charms (depending on its size)

But if you want to bring along some flavors of Singapore with you, go to any grocery stores for a more budget-friendly option.  A bottle of their popular Kaya spread costs SGD 2 to 5 dollars depending on its size and brand.  Buy chocolates, cup noodles or chips that are not available in the Philippines for SGD 0.50 – 8 depending on its brand and size.

Hope I help you save on your upcoming Singapore adventure.  So my friend, enjoy your vacation and don’t forget to buy me a pack of flavored Yakult (priced at SGD 3.10).  Hihihi!

A pack of Yakult with Green Apple, Orange and Grape flavors.  Available only in Singapore for SGD 3.10

A pack of Yakult with two original flavors, one Grape, Orange & Green Apple flavors.  Available only in Singapore for SGD 3.10

 

*Tinakits*

 

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Siem Reap On A Budget: Part 2 – Checklist Before Your Flight

Collage of the different temples we visited at the Angkor Archaelogical Site (July, 2014)

Collage of the different temples we visited at the Angkor Archaeological Site (July, 2013)

My friend, are you planning to go to Siem Reap in the future?  I hope you read my first post to help you plan your itinerary.  I am 100% sure that you will love that side of Cambodia.

Let say you booked your flight, chose a hotel and created your itinerary for your trip.  You still have a few checklist to do a week or a few days before your flight.  To help you, here are some things to consider before you head to the Kingdom of Cambodia:

1.  Check the weather 

Homepage of Cambodia's Meteorological Site.  Click here to access it

Homepage of Cambodia’s Meteorological Site. Click here to access it

This tropical country has 2 seasons like in the Philippines (rainy and dry).  They said, the best time to visit this place is during dry season (November to April) and it will be a challenge to visit Cambodia during rainy season (May to October).  But B and I visited last July and the weather was so cooperative.  It was cold at early morning and quite humid during late morning till afternoon.  We were confident that the sun will shine during our visit.  Thanks to Cambodia’s Meteorological website for giving us a 3-day weather forecast.

2.  Research on the background history of the temples 

Ta Keo Temple - my favorite temple.  One of the venues where Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie was shot

Ta Keo: my favorite temple. One of the venues where the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was shot

This is to know their story and appreciate the temples more.  You may also buy or get leaflets at the sites ticketing office.  But if you want a guided tour, prepare to shell out $25/day to hire a tour guide.  We did not avail of this for Rah told us the name of the temple before we go down our tuktuk and I read some facts at home about the history of Angkor Wat.

Tree grew ontop of one of the temples at Ta Phrom - another place made famous by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

An ancient tree grew on top of one of the temples at Ta Phrom – another place made famous by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Tidbit:  The setting of the popular game “Temple Run” was inspired by the temples here at Siem Reap.

B doing his own version of the game "Temple Run" at Neak Pean (taken from his Blackberry Phone)

B doing his own version of the game “Temple Run” at Neak Pean (taken from his Blackberry Phone)

3.  Prepare your US Dollars

Though their official currency is Cambodian Riel (KHR), you can use US dollars to pay for anything since their prices were quoted in dollars, too.  You will notice that when I posted the price of our room and transpo option.  I also noticed that the money changers there accept our Philippine Pesos but the value of it is lower.

Say hello to Benjamin Franklin at US$ 100 bill

Say hello to Benjamin Franklin in US$ 100 bill

My tip before you go to any country:  Buy dollars here in the Philippines to maximize the value of your PHP.  If you pay in dollars at Cambodia, they will give your change in dollars, too.  But do note that they only accept US Dollar bills and not coins.  If you will be given change, the “cents” will be in Cambodian Riel.  Remember, you cannot exchange your riels to pesos when you go back here in the Philippines.

4.  Wear comfortable but discreet clothes

Second day get-up: “Faith” loose cropped top from Cotton On. Baggy batik pants from Siem Reap flee market

Some temples at Angkor Wat strictly follows a conservative dress code.  If you are wearing sleeveless, tube top for girls, above-the-knee length shorts or skirt; you will not be allowed to enter their temple.  It happened to me on our first day at Angkor Wat.  I was wearing a sleeveless shirt and short skirt and was not allowed to enter the Temple of the Leper King because of my attire.  So I bought their hippie batik trousers that I intend to wear on our next days’ tour and wore a maxi dress a day after when I visited other temples and tour the streets of Siem Reap.  Anyway, printed pants are in this season.

5.  Choose comfortable but sturdy footwear during your tour at Angkor Wat

The sandals that I wore during my Pinatubo Trekking is also one of the best footwear to use in touring the temples at Angkor

Your stilletos or wedges are not the best footwear here.  Hiking shoes or sandals are better since most of the temple floors are not even because they were ruined already.  Your regular slippers may not be sturdy enough to withstand the bumps and rocks along the way.

6.  Bring flashlight

Angkor Wat is the best place to watch the sunrise, for sunset head to Phnom Bakheng.  So if you are planning to go there, bring a flashlight with you.  There is no electric light post at all temples so if you’ll go there early morning, you will not see the bumpy paths along the way.  Pack a small flashlight that will fit your pocket or your small bag when touring so you can light your way to the temple.

7.  Protect yourself from the sun or rain

My trusty fedora hat with my skin slathered with sunblock to keep me protected during my first day at Angkor Wat

Always protect your skin by wearing suncreen.  This is the best venue to wear your fedora hat, caps or the Krama you bought at the flee market.   If the weatherman said it might rain, bring an umbrella or raincoat.

8.  Buy tickets at Angkor Archaeological Site in the afternoon, a day before you go there

Ticketing office of Angkor Archaeological Site

Of course, the main reason people go to Siem Reap is because of Angkor Wat.  Unfortunately, you cannot buy tickets in advance online unless you seek land arrangements from any travel agencies.  If you arrived at Siem Reap in the afternoon or early evening and you plan to tour the site tomorrow, buy tickets specifically at 5:00PM.  Why? Although you pay for the ticket you will use the next day, you can already enter the site for free till it closes at 6:00PM.

My 3-day Ticket to the Temples

How much is the ticket? It depends how many days you want to tour the site.  Passes are sold for one-day tour ($20), three days ($40), or seven days ($60) blocks.  The three day pass is valid for one week, i.e. 3 days to be used within the week, not necessarily consecutively. The seven day pass is valid for one month, i.e. 7 days to be used within the month again, not necessarily consecutively.

What time do they open/close?  Visiting hours are from 5:00 AM till 6:00 PM daily.

How was my trip?  It was memorable.  The temples were breathtaking that I can’t believe I fullfilled my dream of becoming Lara Croft for a day!  (Sans the shorts, sandos, boots and over-sized boobies. HAHA!)  I also want to go back not only for the temples  but for their food, their clean fresh air in the morning and the warm hospitality of its people.

B and me inside Ta Phrom

B and me inside Ta Phrom

That’s it!  Hope I helped you plan and budget your money on your future Siem Reap tour.  As usual my friend, you can always leave a comment for any questions you may have on my experience or to plan for your trip.  Enjoy!

-Tinakits-

Amazing Things To Do Before *insert age or life event here*

My friend, what is the most amazing thing you have done in your life?  Did you have fun after doing it?  I am very sure you can still remember all the wild details of your adventure.  Glad to know that you did something really awesome.

It is fun to try out something different, those that you never done before.  It adds zest to life, makes it exciting, nerve-wrecking, eyes dropping, heart-pounding and more!  Once a while, you have to try out something different from your usual routine to make an ordinary day extra special.

As an active web browser chick who subscribe to “Thought Catalog“, I always see an article about the things to try out before reaching a certain age.  All of the suggestions were very creative.  It’s just that, in my opinion at least, you don’t have to do all of them before you reach a certain age, status or whatever.  If you have the opportunity, study it well and grab it!

To those who know me they describe me as a nerdy, church-goer, shy & goody-two-shoe kind of girl that obeys every detail that parents will say.  In short, a very very bland gal.  Well, that’s what they think.  Though I always play on the safe side, I also did some amazing things that not everybody had experienced before.  So for those like me who always play safe, the ones who don’t believe in the motto YOLO (You Only Live Once – fyi for the oldies.  Hehe), here are some things you can do that some I have tried.  Especially that I am seeing a lot of people scanning posts like this and also to give you some other options that is possible because I tried them.

HOLD ON!  Before you leave and tried these out, always consider your health and your budget.  It’s fun to enjoy them but make sure you take all possible precautionary measures for you not to get hurt physically, emotionally, financially, and will not aggrevate another person’s feelings or reputation.

Here’s my bucket list:

[x]  Be at two places at the same time

You may recall the movie or the book “A Walk To Remember” on the scene when the leading man named Landon Carter asked his lady love Jamie Sullivan to stand between the border of two states since this was one item on her bucket list.  Yeah, that can be done.  But to make it more exciting, I add this and number two at the same time which is:

[x]  Swim at two bodies of water at the same time

Yes!  I did it literally!  How?  Where?  When?

My favorite travel buddies love the beaches at Patar, Bolinao, Pangasinan because of its serenity and ruggedness.  I believe that was in 2008.  We went there after a storm and after that town was devastated not only by the typhoon but also of tornado.  The path where the tornado went created a wide stream that connected the sea to the river.  An older friend of ours (we call him Sir Romie) told us that the other part of the stream was a river.  We did not believe him because we did not see any line or partision or border to see it.  He then challenged us to taste the water from two sides, and so we did.  The other part, the most obvious part was salty because it came directly from the sea.  But the other side of the small stream was not!  Nature is so mysterious in a beautiful way.  So we took this picture while we frolic on two bodies of water:

On the right is the West Philippine Sea, the left is the river of Bolinao, Pangasinan

On the left is the West Philippine Sea, the right is the river of Bolinao, Pangasinan

To continue with what I accomplished and pending goals on my bucket list, here it is:

[x]  Speak in public in front of (more than) a hundred audience

[x]  Learn to converse in foreign language (I have learned to speak & write in French & Spanish.  Thanks to my Foreign Language subject in College & Instituto de Cervantes)

[]  Re-learn my French in Paris, and Spanish in Spain

[x]  Create your own recipe (Click here to view it.  So far, it is my most popular blog post.  Thanks to all of you!)

[]  Ace baking (my biggest frustration as a kitchen person is me not being good at baking)

[]  Visit a flower field/farm

[x]  Party from sundown till noon the next day and attend a class after (did it in College)

[x]  Party from sundown to sun up then go to work after

[x]  Be at a volcanoes crater (See my blog post about it here)

[x]  Ride a Boeing 747 plane

[]  Fly Business Class to any international destination

[x]  Go on a blind date (hmm… will not provide details. HAHA!)

[x]  Be promoted at work

[x]  Run for public office (Somewhat I did this.  I was a VP candidate at our school government before)

[x]  Graduate with flying colors

[]  Have a second degree

[]  Enrol in Six Sigma and be certified with it

[]  Hop on a big ferris wheel (either at the London Eye or Singapore Flyer in SG)

[x]  Go on a cruise

[x]  Try wakeboarding, cliff diving, wall climbing, rock climbing, zipline

Different physical pursuits I have tried so far

Different physical pursuits I have tried so far

[]  Do sky jump at Macau Tower

[]  Master wakeboarding

[]  Be good at swimming

[]  Learn scuba-diving

[]  Scuba dive at Tubbataha Reef

[]  Go to Onuk Island in Southern Palawan

[]  Stay either at Lagen or Miniloc Island (both are in El Nido, Palawan)

[]  Go to Batanes

[]  Go to Maldives or Seychelles and enjoy their beaches

[x]  See a rainbow’s end

[]  Tour United Kingdom

[]  Meet a real Prince and/or Princess, or the Queen of England

[]  Tour the Holy Land

[]  Tour Italy (Milan, Tuscany, Rome, Vatican City)

[x]  Go to Ilocos Norte and see Bangui Windmills, Paoay Church & Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

My Ilocos Norte dream came true!

My Ilocos Norte dream came true!

[]  Experience autumn & winter

[]  Make snowman & snow angel

[]  See cherry blossoms in full bloom

[]  See a live turtle on an island and set it free

[]  Tour Singapore-Malaysia-Bintan Island for a holiday

[x]  Kiss a total stranger

[x]  Do ballroom dancing and be good at it

[x]  Sing solo on stage in public

[x]  Cross another island via sandbar

[x]  Overnight stay in a floating house located in the middle of the sea

[x]  Stay in a luxury resort

[x]  Live on my own

[]  Have my own house under my name that I paid with my own money

[]  Stay in a luxury hotel in Manila (This is strange.  I worked in a luxury hotel in  Manila before but I haven’t stayed in it as a guest)

[x]  Write a letter to my favorite author

[x]  Buy a diamond jewelry with my own money (but a woman can’t get enough of diamonds.  I’d like to invest more on jewelries)

[x]  Spend a night sleeping under the stars

[x]  Watch sunset and then wait to watch the sunrise

[x]  Start a business

[]  Have a successful business

[]  Buy stocks and get a huge profit from it

[x]  Eat a strange meal (the ones with meats of animals like crocodile, woodworm, frog, etc.)

This is wood worm or "tamilok".  A strange meal in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan

This is woodworm or “tamilok” soaked in vinegar. A strange meal in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan

[x]  Go on vacation and hop on different hotels everyday (happened 2 years ago in Palawan)

[x]  Join a festival and their street dancing

[x]  Dance under the rain

[x]  Kiss under the rain with full moon (It’s true and the most magical experience I’ve had!!!)

[]  Witness a meteor shower

[]  See a comet

[]  See another planet clearly (from a telescope or from an eclipse)

[x]  Not speak for a day

[x]  Make a donation

[x]  Help someone to finish his/her  education

[x]  Witness  Solar and Lunar Eclipse

[]  Witness Aurora Borealis

[x]  Go dolphin watching at open sea (and not on whatever animal circus)

[x]  Swim with dolphins or any friendly whales or the gentle whale shark

[x]  Have my fortune told

[x]  Join a fun run

Successfully finished a Fun Run!

Successfully finished a Fun Run!

[x]  Win in any game of chance (in a casino, lottery, bingo and raffle draw even if it is not the grand prize)

[x]  Keep a blog

[]  Earn profit from my blog

[]  Visit at least one country from Asia (done!), Europe, North America, South America, Africa & Ocenia

[x]  Explore Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

[]  Go to France & see Musée du Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Provence for their lavender field & any champagne winery

[]  Live in another country for a month

[]  Visit the remains of my 3rd grandparents in Australia

[x]  Go on vacation in any nice place in Mindanao

[x]  Learn any self-defense (boxing, muay thai, karate or aikido)

[]  Do wild water rafting

[x]  Go on a safari

[]  Touch a tiger

[x]  Ride on top of an elephant

[]  Hug a real live bear (panda or koala)

[x]  See Mickey & Minnie Mouse

Mickey & Minnie Mouse taken last February 2013 at HK Disneyland

Mickey & Minnie Mouse taken last February 2013 at HK Disneyland

[]  Buy a car from my own savings

[]  Be an expert driver without me screaming every time I take major roads (like SLEX, NLEX, SCTEX) especially at night

[]  See Christ the Redeemer in Brazil

[]  Shop in New York

[]  Shop in Beverly Hills in CA

[]  Spend a holiday overseas with my Mother

[]  See the New Year’s ball drop in NY

[x]  Ride a bullet train

[]  Go to DMX – border of North & South Korea (very intriguing place for me)

[]  Go clubbing overseas (Ibiza, Mykonos, Singapore, London, Las Vegas & NY seems to be the best venue.  Any of them will do.  HAHA!)

[x]  Own a lasting leather designer bag (Balenciaga!!!)

Oh, Balenciaga Classic Town.  When will you be mine?

Oh, Balenciaga Classic Town. When will you be mine?

[]  Go to a spa in Bali, Indonesia and enjoy their famous massage

[]  Build a tent and go camping

[x]  Spend all of my salary on a shopping spree

[x]  Have braces (already a graduate from it)

[]  Pay my insurance in full (almost done!)

[]  Touch the clouds

[]  Go on a hot air balloon ride

[]  Ride a helicopter

[x]  Swim with “Nemo” or a Clown Fish

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Me under the sea of Boracay with Nemo!!!

[x]  Find true love

[x]  Open a savings account and consistently deposit money on it

[]  Open a saving account in any foreign currency ($$$)

[]  Be debt-free (with the list I have here, it’s quite impossible.  HAHAHA!)

That’s it!  I’m done with some but still got a long way to go.  Actually, some of it are already in a process of being fullfilled.  I will let you know once I go about it on preparation and tell you the experience I have while accomplishing it.  But for now, let me go back to work and earn more so I can fullfill all of it.

My friend, what’s on your bucket list?  Share it to me and I might help you make it come true.

-Tinakits-

Of Starting Over & Mt. Pinatubo (Part 1)

My friend, what do you do after a break up?  Don’t get me wrong, I am not broken-hearted.  It was a question that we kept on answering for a friend who just ended her 6-year relationship.  For anonimity sake, let’s call my friend “Marie”.  As a friend, we tell her so many tips like finding a new guy, going out with friends, find a hobby or go on vacation.  All of these she took note and tried her best to do it.  Another thing she have in mind is to travel every month and do something she never did before.  One of which is to go to Mt. Pinatubo and trek there.

As a friend and a travel-addict, I want to help her.  Besides, I miss her companionship whenever we travel.  So I fired up my lappie and researched on an agency to arrange for our trekking.  I haven’t been to Pinatubo nor a trekker.  Whenever I go somewhere, I usually do it DIY style.  But I don’t want to risk our groups’ safety that’s why I opt to inquire at Trekking Pinatubo‘s website.  Among all of the sites Google gave me, I chose this because of the great feedbacks posted on their site from locals & foreigners.  I contacted my friends and asked if they are up for the challenge.  After finalizing our headcount, I emailed Trekking Pinatubo and they responded immediately.

Our chosen tour agency arrange everything for us.  Thought they have a preferred meeting place, they will give you option on your prefered pick-up point within Metro Manila.  Their rate depends on the number of pax.  Of course the more the merrier and the cheaper ;p.  Their rate includes van pick-up/drop-off, hiring of 4×4 to go to the trekking area, fee for the Tour Guide, Driver & other fees (environmental, travel, whatever!).  We tried to form a group of 10 to avail of their promo of Php 1,999.  But because of schedule conflict and others opting for a more relaxing travel, we only form a group with  8 people which will cost Php 2,425/person.  Not bad.

Though you may bring food, the agency can arrange for your lunch after the trip for Php 250 (Flipino Food) or Php 350 (Korean Food).  If you don’t want to bring big towels & toilettries, you can add Php 100 for Shower Fee which includes every bath essensials.  A side trip to Capas National Shrine is also offered for Php 10 only.  We also thought of getting a massage for Php 500 & try the Volcanic Ash Spa also for Php 500.

TIPS FOR THE TRIP

Always do research before going somewhere for tips.  Travel blogs were very helpful.  A lot of them recommended January as the best time to go there because of the weather – it’s not too hot, temperature is cooler & the color of the lake is clearer.  We chose January 12th because this is a special day for me and my other half, B.  But for others whose schedule is too busy on that month, any cooler month will do.  I guess December to February are the best months to go there.  It can be scorching hot during summer not only because of the season but the temperature will be doubled because of the sand & lahar on that place.

As a fashion-conscious individual, I also want to wear the most comfortable get up.  For this trip, I was more conscious about the footwear I will use since I’ve had an accident recently in which my right toenail cracked.  You need something that will protect your feet from the sands, slippery terrain, rocks and water.  Bloggers suggested to wear sandals or heavy-duty trekking shoes.  The Tour Agency even suggested Crocs.  All these suggestions were too expensive!  A friend recommended the brand Sandugo as the best and the cheapest.  It’s a local brand that caters to the Flipino’s adventurous feet.  I bought an open-toe sandals named “River Crossing” and it cost me Php 650 only!

My footwear of choice and it did not disappoint me

My footwear of choice and it did not disappoint me

T-shirt, sports bra & shorts were my chosen get-up.  To have extra protection, choose  a get-up made of water & dust-resistant cloth.  You don’t want your shirts to get dirty and hard to wash after the activity especially if you’re going to do photoshoots to document the event, right? ;D

Trekking will take half-a-day so you need lots of energy.  Bring lots of water, snacks, energy bar or drinks for you to survive the trip.  But make sure to pack light.  Having extra load will make it harder for you to walk.

All’s set for our trip!  Wait for my post on what happened on the actual trip.

-Tinakits-