My First Month in Singapore

>> Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's almost a month since Mon and I arrived here in Singapore. Time flies so fast! I was not able to blog for a while either.

Our flight is super duper delayed! Mon, Kiomi and I killed time by eating and chatting. Bonding time na din with Kiomi since we rarely talk before. We were supposed to leave 8+PM but left the next day already (past 12 midnight). Grrr... The only consolation was Cebu Pacific providing 2-pc chicken meal from Jollibee.

We arrived at Changi Budget Terminal around 4am! Tin patiently waited for us eventhough she has work the same day. We stayed at her place on our first week in Singapore. She lives in Aljunied together with two other Filipinos. First agenda after arriving SG? Gumala ng gumala the entire week! We went to usual puntahan places like Suntec, Funan, Sim Lim, Orchard (malls like Lucky Plaza, Takashimaya and Paragon), Bugis, Tampines (Ikea, Courts, Giant) and a lot more. What made it a lot enjoyable is having friends accompany us to the mentioned places (at nilibre nila kami hahaha! Thanks guys!) We even stayed for a night at Weng and Cinds' place in Changi. :) Enjoy!

Weekend came and Tin accompanied us to Cel's place at Commonwealth. Until now, we are staying here. :) First day, we were greeted by a sumptuous lunch made by Ate Carol. Nilaga! Yum yum.. hehehe.. The following day, Mon and I became more of a serious job hunters. I resent all of my emails to the contacts given by our friends. In no time, they are calling both Mon and I regarding our skills profile. Imagine, I emailed them weeks before going to SG and they ignored it. True that agencies here would want applicants already in Singapore. We even had interviews while walking (See Mon's blog entry).

Within the span of two weeks, we attended several interviews and then came the job offers. Mon accepted the job offered at SG Polytech (whew!) and I preferred to decline the job offered to me. Just that the compensation offered doesn't seem to match the enormouse amount of job that I will be doing. Mon even told me that I just try on other opportunities. After all, he already has a job and can immediately support both of us.

Week after that, I am still a bum. Preferring not to look for potential jobs on the first two days, probably enjoying cooking for Mon (and sometimes to everyone at the house), staying at home and playing with my inaanak. Then, each one inside the house started to get sick (except Ate Carol hehehe..). I was the last one to get sick. :( Another excuse for me to put off job hunting. Hehehe...

I started looking again just middle of this week. There were agents already calling and scheduling interviews. I had attended one at DSTA and oh! an adventure for me. Hahaha... I got to the place on the right bus stop. Unfortunately, entrance for that area are for staffs only. And there started my long walk. Haaayyy... Reaching the right entrance (with armed military men in fatigue at the entrance), I headed for the registration area. Btw, DSTA is under Ministry of Defence, Singapore so you can just imagine the very tight security within the premises. Each visitor must submit their passports (or NRIC for PRs and with EP). All image-capturing devices must be deposited to their lockers. The exam is really hard and you have to discuss your answers to the interviewer. I will know the result probably after a few more days since they are gathering candidates and will finally shortlist based on results. I'm not sure if I get in, but I would probably have second thoughts (again!) if ever qualified. Hahaha.. Oh well, I would still want to try other companies. Let's see in the coming days. As Mon said, I have to choose the one that I feel I'm comfortable working with. And I agree.. :)

Here are some pics. :) Konti lang kasi pathetic! We have no digicam with us (pinamana ko na sa mga pamangkin ko hehehe). Actually, ang dami naming place na napuntahan na walang pics.. Huhuhers... As soon as magkaron kami (lapit na IT Show!), I'll post some more.

At the Plane

At Tin's Place

At Fountain of Weath and Koi Garden (Suntec)

At Merlion plus eating of Stingray near Esplanade

At Shuttle to City Hall MRT Station (Going to Funan)

At Weng and Cinds' place

Eating ice cream outside Sim Lim

At Toys R Us, Paragon


Singapore 101

>> Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Heads up to those planning for a vacation or considering better job opportunities here in Singapore. :) Fortunately, we did not have a hard time adjusting since we have friends who provided lots of information about things here.

Hmmm, Singapore is the second country that I have been to. I went to Hong Kong several times already (cumulatively: about 3-4mos) and I'd say there are lots of similar things on these two countries. Mapping as follows (hahaha, analyze to the max ito)! Some are merely observations so you (readers) may not entirely agree with me. hehehe...

  • Local residents of both countries are Chinese and they are both under British Colony before. Most Singaporeans can speak english well compared to those in HK. And I'd say, SG locals are friendlier than HK locals.

  • They have a very efficient transportation service. Commuters can pay via cash or through their automated payment system (SG: ezlink, HK: octopus). Using their fare cards is actually cheaper than paying in cash. And having designated stops, prepare your feet for long walks (healthier though hehehe)

    • MRT (SG)/MTR(HK) stations are strategically located per area. There are several train lines to go to several places via interchange. Both countries calls train lines via area (SG: North West Line, East West Line, North East Line and soon, Circle Line) (HK:Island Line, Tsuen Wan Line, Disneyland Resort Line Etc.). Similarly, their trains can also be identified per color (i.e. Green Line, Red Line, Purple Line, etc.)

    • Bus stops are also properly organized to cover most areas. Most bus has upper decks too. Some difference though,

      • In Singapore, you have to signal the bus driver that you will board the bus at the bus stop and press the stop button before your actual stop since bus drivers does not normally stop at all designation bus stops unless there's a signal. Commuters need not queue since there's no specified area in the stop per bus code.

      • In HK, there are rare cases that one has to press the stop button. Normally, commuters who will alight the next bus stop just have to stand near the exit to signal the driver. Also, per bus stop, there's a designated area where each bus should stop (depending on code). Therefore, drivers can determine if someone needs to board his bus. Commuter queuing is required.

  • Food: I haven't explored much on SG local delicacies but there are the usual dimsum, cheong fun, iced milk tea, iced lemon tea, roast/barbecued pork, soy chicken, hainanese chicken, congee, curry/sweet and sour dishes.

  • Shopping Malls: They are just about anywhere. Most of the times stores are on sale. Feast to women's eyes hahaha..

  • Filipino Hot Spot: It's Lucky Plaza (Orchard) in SG and World-Wide Center (Central) in HK.

  • Grocery/Convenience Stores: 7-11 almost everywhere (for both SG and HK)... There's Circle K in HK, Cheers in SG. Groceries: Fair Price, CarreFour in SG while Wellcome and Park N Shop in HK.

Oh! I could list a lot more comparisons for both countries but enough of that. I'm just happy that there are a lot of same things to both countries that I did not have so much adjustment to do. Now, I'll focus on Singapore alone. :)

Temperature is almost the same with our country. Only that it seems that it rains here more often. Someone said (can't remember who) that considering that Singapore is a tropical country, amount of precipitation is high. So if you perspire a lot, bring water, fan, towelette or what have you to be more comfortable while walking.

First timers may find it difficult to get used to navigating Singapore. But if you have internet connection, you can go to their online street directory. They also have an available street directory book and bus guides to help you find your way better.

As with the laws, strictly no eating and drinking on buses and MRT stations. No spitting and definitely keep the surroundings clean. Cross on the appropriate pedestrian lanes. Most authorities are in civilian clothes so beware! Penalties cost a lot.

Aside from Filipinos, there are other races here. Along with seeing Chinese/Locals in public transports are Malaysians and Indians. There are many Caucasians and other races as well but I think they are mostly expats or tourists.

Cost of living in Singapore is definitely much expensive. Eating in fast food chains in malls would cost you a minimum of SGD6-8 (around PHP150-240 [PHP30 conversion]). Expect shelling out more cash on restaurants. Good thing there are hawker centers that are cheaper (minimum of SGD2.8). Take note that there are no drinks to the estimate cost I mentioned (minimum one dollar).

Piracy is a no-no here. Boring life, it is. Also, downloading of music, videos or movies over the internet are strictly monitored. You might be surprised that someone is knocking your door only to discover that you've been caught. Katakot!

I appreciate that areas here sort of create a community where you can conveniently go to. Seems that almost all areas have their own parks, children play areas, tambayan (frequented mostly by elderly or PDA lovers), wet markets, police stations, child care centers, schools, hawker centers and anik-anik stores.

I think that's just about it. Touring or living (temporarily or permanently that is) around Singapore definitely needs some getting used to but worth the time. Just make sure your pockets are full! Hahaha...


Constant Change...

I have been bugged by my husband a couple of times to make a blog entry. You see, we both resigned to our work in the Philippines to seek better opportunities in Singapore. (Raises my hand) -- And yes.. more of a risk taker, I am.. I honestly urged my husband to consider working abroad for our family/future. Fortunately, after a long and careful consideration, he finally gave it a shot. I know it was harder on him since he is not that comfortable with changes on things that are crucial (work for that matter). He even hoped I would change my mind after some time but nope, I didn't.

The last few weeks in Manila went by so fast, arranged the things we will be leaving behind (house, payables, car, our Jessie the Jumping Dog... everything), meet ups with friends and catching up with the family. We were both sentimental before leaving but we tried so hard to be strong for the people we love. Only Mon saw me crying, as I don't want them to see that I am. I know we will be coming back but it really sucks thinking that you won't be so near your loved ones. Haaayyy.... Good thing there's ym, email and cellphone. We get to connect with them as often as we can. Another good thing is that we have very good friends over here to make us feel at home.

Now that I am thinking of it, it's not so bad to get out of one's comfort zone for there's a far better things ahead. There will be various changes that will happen to our lives and it's up to us how we deal with it. One great thing I learned on this journey that we took, is to be optimistic all the way. Resenting the change will just keep you from improving. Worse, it will make you more apprehensive and fearful. So, let's just MOVE FORWARD. ;)

** Singapore Adventures will be on a separate post. :D


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