27 July, 08:00-09:10
We woke up at 8:00 in the morning to avail of the hostel’s free breakfast for the last time. As we were halfway done with packing, we didn’t see any reason to rush eating. We then freshened up and changed into proper clothes for the return flight, finishing our luggage packing at the same time. A final prayer for a safe trip back, and a last look at our room for the last three days – then, we checked out. I got a S$20 refund for the hostel’s hallway access card, which I put aside.
Our 3-day tourist passes had already expired by this time, but we still had the regular train tickets from our first day. We walked towards Little India station (DT12 / NE7) via Exit A – which was located along Mackenzie Road. Instead of transferring to the East West Line (green) at Bugis (DT14 / EW12), we opted to go all the way to Expo (DT35 / CG1) on the Downtown (blue) Line. The new terminus at Expo station was finished in 2018, and is directly connected to Changi City Point mall.
27 July, 10:00-11:00
Upon disembarking at Expo station, we decided to check out Changi City Point for some additional things to buy. The nearest supermarket (FairPrice) was already open, so we bought instant coffee, powdered milk tea, a bottle of kaya toast, and a pack of curry noodles. We promptly put these groceries in our luggage after paying via a self-checkout kiosk.
Changi Airport station (CG2) was the next stop right after Expo, so we simply hopped on the East-West Line (green) train to the airport terminus. I surrendered both our tourist passes to the ticketing attendant – scoring another S$20 refund.
27 July, 11:30-13:30
We basically had three hours before boarding time, so we headed to the satellite check-in counter at Jewel Changi for early passengers. However, a staff member informed us that the person queued in front of us was the last passenger the counter will serve. He then redirected us to Philippine Airlines’ main check-in counter at Terminal 1, which opens three hours before a scheduled flight.
With that turn of events, we walked to the main counter and managed to check in our luggage in time. I initially thought our luggage would exceed the weight limit of 20 kg per person for our flight – but fortunately, it never went past that limit. With 90 minutes left, we used that remaining period to have lunch.
We tried out Indian food from Sankranti Express, located at the food court (right beside O’TAH.) I’m not a full-time vegan, but I appreciated the meatless lunch I had. It consisted of mattar paneer (paneer cheese cubes and green peas in curry), bhindi masala (okra cooked in Indian spices), dhal soup (made from lentils), naan bread, papadum wafers, and rice. My younger brother got the same, but he had the mattar paneer replaced with lamb biryani. After this spicy medley, we bought soy milk from a nearby stall to wash down the intense flavors. One final washroom trip, and we promptly headed to the boarding area.
27 July, 14:00-18:00
Our Singapore trip is finally coming to a close; it was time to board the plane. I know three days is rather short, but I’m grateful to have escaped the boring routine of work and go somewhere different. I’ll be returning to the traffic- and grime-filled streets of Manila. I hope to see the Philippines as eco-friendly, well-connected, and walkable as Singapore, but that’s a pipe dream.
We arrived in Manila at 6:00 in the evening. NAIA Terminal 2 was rather disorganized, but kudos to the airport staff for trying to maintain order. We left the arrival area and booked a Grab going to Quezon City, meeting up with our parents after.
I chanced upon the Singaporium fair at The Podium mall in Ortigas, two months after this trip (this was around September 2019). The Singapore Tourism Board organized the fair to promote relations between Singapore and the Philippines; current Singapore President Halimah Yacob even graced the fair’s inauguration!
No expense was spared to replicate the look and feel of a Singapore mall throughout The Podium. Tarpaulins featuring tourist attractions such as Marina Bay Sands and the Merlion were put up, side by side with tarpaulins featuring hawker centre fare like chili crab. Lifestyle and food brands from the Lion City set up booths for an entire week, with prices matched to Philippine peso equivalents.
I walked around to check the items being sold, and tried out fish ball soup from one of the concessionaires. Apparently, the said concessionaire had an actual stall at Tekka Centre – which we didn’t notice at all.
Yes, the sales staff spoke Singlish – which was oddly comforting to hear now. The mall was made to look like an Orchard Road retail establishment. But alas, this still isn’t Singapore.
How I miss the Little Red Dot again.