Singapore: 8 Familiar Lessons Learned in a Foreign Land

Sometimes we easily get complacent in life, and we lose sight of what matters in this world. We get swallowed up by work, and ease into mediocrity. But one thing I have been learning lately is that we should never settle. We have to break the monotony once in a while and let loose. There is so much beauty in this world that needs to be explored and experienced.

So let me tell you about my very brief trip to Singapore, and how, despite being there for only 2-and-a-half days, I re-learned some of the most important things I have been missing in life.

1. Life is more delicious when shared with others.

Being an only child, I’m pretty used to doing things on my own. There’s always that need in me to feel independent and not having to rely on others. But good gracious, imagine how lonely this trip would’ve been if I wasn’t surrounded by an awesome bunch of friends!

We need good companions in this journey called life—people who will stay during storms and sunny days. And though there are some who will leave you when the going gets tough, having that handful who are willing to stay makes all the difference.

2. Strangers are secret friends.

Don’t be afraid to say “hi!” because most of the time, others are just waiting for someone to break the ice.

We lived in a hostel during our trip, and this meant that we had to share rooms with different people—strangers who came from different parts of the world! It was so lovely to just have breakfast with them and talk about each other’s culture and current events (in my case, we talked about Steve Jobs and his being a remarkable visionary).

Dharshan from Sri lanka, Me from the Philippines, Owais from Arizona

Chun Hui (our friend Malaysia!), Brian, Me, Rachel

With Masumi, who resides in Bali.

Despite the disparity, at the end of the day, you are all travelers who are hungry for adventure. Having that common thread ties you together in some unspoken bond, allowing you to feel comfort in each other’s company—it doesn’t matter where you’re from.

3. Be crazy and go wild once in a while!

One thing I seriously love doing: running in the rain. I don’t know why exactly, but it just makes me feel so freeeeeeeeeee!!!

The heavy rains did not stop us from enjoying Universal Studios! I remember our group running to and fro, regardless of the downpour. Huddling inside alcoves at first, but then realizing what the heck, let’s just do it!

And we had the most incredible roller coaster experience ever. Riding the Battlestar Galactica roller coaster (Cylon side!!!) in spite of the rain  was unbelievably enjoyable!!! The ascent to the peak where the drop was to commence made our hearts sink, but once we were released, we wanted the moment to last forever. Imagine your heart racing through each and every turn, and screaming your lungs out not because of fear, but because you were having the greatest frakking time of your frakking life.

Reg, Me, Rach, Jac, and Lace looking like we came out of a swimming pool.

Sometimes, you just have to be a little bit crazy and live as if there’s no tomorrow. Use your head to make sense of what’s in your heart. It’s okay to be nervous when you reach the peak, but don’t forget to enjoy the free fall. Don’t escape the rain; enjoy every drop of it. Let it embrace all of you, and allow it to wash everything away.

4. Dare yourself. Because sometimes, it only boils down to Now or Never.

Our friend, Chucky, could only stay in Singapore for a day. We spent our evenings at Clark Quay, the home of one of the most extreme rides I have ever seen: The GMAX Reverse Bungy.

The sight of it alone is overwhelming. Nothing but a machine and some ropes catapult you into the air, just like a slingshot. We were contemplating whether or not we would ride it that evening because it looked pretty scary. Even the muscular men who came out of it had jelly legs.

Chucky, on the other hand, was dead serious about riding it that night. And so, he bought his tickets with Reg and Jac.

I, on the other hand, began to feel fidgety. I wanted to ride it so bad, but I was hesitant because a) there’s always tomorrow, and b) I feigned exhaustion from all the crazy rides that day. Sheesh, what excuses. But I forgot about the other side of the story. What if a) we wouldn’t be going to Clark Quay again tomorrow, b) what if it was closed, and c) what if the lines were too long. So screw it! You’re in this moment only ONCE. And there was an opportunity since the line wasn’t too long and the weather that evening was perfect.

So, I dragged Rachel and Don Don. Hehe. And we were extremely scared like kids before getting an injection, but we bought our tickets. There’s no turning back now. This was it.

AND IT WAS SOOOOOO WORTH IT.

The ride wasn’t even scary at all! In fact, it was mesmerizing. Singapore from above with all the lights surrounding you…it felt like flying. Each spin of the bungy allowed us to take in the beauty of the city from end to end. It was such a tremendously beautiful sight! Unforgettable in its own unique way. We were shaking when we got off, but we barely noticed it because we had this huge smile plastered on our faces. Damn, that was awesome.

Woohoo! All smiles after the reverse bungy.

In life, we are sometimes faced with opportunities that only come once in a lifetime. It’s up to us whether we would be brave enough to take it, or just shy away and think of the more comfortable options. Living life on the edge won’t hurt as long as you have courage and faith.

This is our time. Until that time stops – for one of us, for both – it is our time. Now. Will you waste it, because you are afraid?

― Diana Gabaldon

5. It’s always fun to get lost…

During our second day, Rachel and I got lost in Singapore. I know what you’re thinking. How can you even get lost in Singapore?! But we did. Particularly in the subway station while looking for the best way to the Mint Museum.

So, instead of fussing over it, we decided to go to the end station, Marina Bay, and just worked our way from there.

And we did crazy things that only tourists can pull off such as…

Sit right smack in the middle of the road.

Beg two mimes for a photo (even though it was prohibited). I’m really glad they complied, though! Hee.

Visit the awesome lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum 

Marvel at the beautiful Helix Bridge and Singapore Flyer.

Impulsively set foot on a River Taxi…

Where we felt the wind in our hair…

Passed the Merlion even though we weren’t planning to…

Met this wonderful couple from the United Kingdom (and talked about Harry Potter hehehe)…

Saw this amazing sculpture!

Take a leap of faith and venture into the unknown, best with a trusted friend who knows you inside out. Surprise yourself at the priceless discoveries you chance upon your way.

6. …but it’s always wonderful to find a piece of home.

Because our trip wouldn’t have been as fun without Bribri!!!

And suddenly, Singapore felt like home.

Mantou Bread, Lamb Satay, Chicken Satay, Beef Satay, Cereal Prawns, and Chili Crab!!!

We had an ultimate food trip and bonding session unlike any other. It was so refreshing to find a familiar face amongst the unfamiliar environment. Brian gave us a tour of Singapore. We went shopping, and ended up overeating in the Lau Pa Sat Hawker Center. It felt so good to just be able to unwind with awesome friends whom you can really talk to without any hesitation!

And smuggle McDonald’s curry with! Ehe ehe ehe.

Be around people who bring out the best in you. Be around those who will always love you and accept you despite the mistakes you made in the past. Appreciate them and show them how much they mean to you. I am so blessed to have friends who have been with me when I felt like I had no one. These friendships I truly treasure and value more than gold.

7. Remember what it feels like to be a kid again.

Brian, Rachel, and I had the most nostalgic experience when we visited the Mint Museum. Tucked inside are thousands of toys! Vintage toys, to be exact. Here you would find the oldest Felix the Cat doll, the first Mickey Mice, Popeye toys, Star Wars action figures, a collection of BATMAN memorabilia, the first ever matchbox cars, lunch boxes, teddy bears, a one-of-a-kind Green Hornet car, and sooo much more! Each floor flooded us with a wave of nostalgia that took us back to the Hanna-Barbera days. It was a chest of our childhood memories unlocked and released!

We’re not getting any younger, that’s for sure! But it won’t hurt to relive our priceless childhood memories. Those moments of innocence when wealth meant owning the latest action hero toy, and how our kiddie faces would light up at the simplest of things! I hope we don’t forget the little things in life that makes us break into song, crack a smile, or crinkle our nose with delight.

8. Sometimes, you just need to get lost in order to find yourself.

We are always in a process of becoming, but that doesn’t mean we should not have a direction. I guess I’m in that point where I’m finding a balance between what I want to do and what I need to do as of the moment. I’m getting there, I feel it. But there are times when I just get lost in a cloud of confusion, with different thoughts tugging my reasoning to and fro.

Getting lost in Singapore meant opening myself to different experiences and exploring a completely different culture. I learned to embrace this journey, while at the same time remembering the things that matter. It’s pretty funny and amazing how a short 2-and-a-half day trip can open your eyes to so many realizations about life and the way you live it.

I wouldn’t say that I completely found myself in Singapore, or that I have found my Great Perhaps in a snap. I don’t think that’s possible for me—to find myself in an instant. But I do know one thing is for sure, and it’s that I’m taking a step towards a direction that’s bigger than anything I have ever dreamed of. And I’m going to claim it this time around. Because at the end of the day, it’s always only Now or Never. Get lost on your own, or better yet with the people you love. But don’t come back empty handed…

Find yourself.

13 thoughts on “Singapore: 8 Familiar Lessons Learned in a Foreign Land

    1. Hi, Katie! Wow, thanks so much! I guess it’s all about living wisely in the moment and just letting the beauty of life consume you. 🙂 I love your Monte Albán photos and what you wrote about appreciation. 🙂

  1. “…I’m taking a step towards a direction that’s bigger than anything I have ever dreamed of. And I’m going to claim it this time around. Because at the end of the day, it’s always only Now or Never. Get lost on your own, or better yet with the people you love. But don’t come back empty handed.”

    I love your perspective Smurfy! It was definitely an adrenaline-packed two-and-a-half days of soul-searching with awesome friends (plus great food might I add!) Had fun getting lost with you! ❤ Extremely excited for what lies ahead of us in this crazy journey called life 😉

    1. Rachieeee!! Thank you for being such a huge part of my life! I, too, had so much fun getting lost with you and wandering around the city like a lost puppy! Haha! It’s great finally get back on track and venture into the beautiful unknown. And I’m really glad we’re together in this. 🙂 I love you, Smurfy!

    1. Hey Chuckyyy! You know what would’ve been better? IF YOU REBOOKED. Hahaha, just kidding. 😉 Thanks for being part of this unforgettable trip! 🙂 🙂

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