Yikes! That’s S$4 not S$5.

Bloopers in my Singapore article (shame shame shame)

SGMT Food Laksa

If you read my Rappler article on Singapore, you may or may not have noticed that one line had a horrendous bit of math in it:

Budget for food:
S$5 (₱175/meal) x 2 meals/day x 5 days = ₱1,400

Short story

That line should have read:

Budget for food:
S$4 (₱140/meal) x 2 meals/day x 5 days = ₱1,400

I was careless and now I’ve put all my Math teachers to shame.

* hides under blanket and never comes out *

Long story

For quite a while, I debated with myself on whether to set a budget of S$4 or S$5 per meal. It’s not a very big difference (just around ₱35) but if you’re a budget traveler, amounts like that matter, especially over several days. I went back and forth between “S$5 (₱175/meal) x 2 meals/day x 5 days = ₱1,750” and “S$4 (₱140/meal) x 2 meals/day x 5 days = ₱1,400” and eventually managed to muck up the equation upon submission to Rappler.

Sorry. 🙁

Why did I eventually go with a budget of S$4 per meal — or a total of ₱1,400 for 5 days?

First of all, S$1 goes to drinks, so that leaves S$3 for the food itself.

The Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry has this nifty online directory of budget hawker food. The list contains all the hawker center stalls that sell a particular dish (such as chicken rice) for a price at or below the 30th percentile price of that particular food. I shan’t go into a detailed explanation of what percentiles are but, roughly, the 30th percentile price of chicken rice means that 30% of hawker stalls would be selling chicken rice below that price.

In other words, it’s the price that us budget travelers would be interested in.

As of the second quarter of 2015, these were the 30th percentile prices of popular dishes in Singapore (this is according to the SG government, so you know it’s legit):

  • Roti Prata – S$0.80
  • Nasi Lemak – S$2.00
  • Vegetarian Bee Hoon – S$2.00
  • Char Siew Rice – S$2.50
  • Chicken Rice – S$2.50
  • Fishball Noodles – S$2.50
  • Lontong – S$2.50
  • Mee Rebus – S$2.50
  • Mee Siam – S$2.50
  • Minced Pork Noodle – S$2.50
  • Porridge – S$2.50
  • Wanton Mee – S$2.50
  • Economical Rice – S$2.70
  • Ban Mian – S$2.80
  • Duck Rice – S$3.00
  • Fried Kway Teow – S$3.00
  • Horfun – S$3.00
  • Laksa – S$3.00
  • Malay Chicken Rice – S$3.00
  • Mee Goreng – S$3.00
  • Nasi Padang – S$3.50
  • Nasi Biryani – S$4.50

As you can see, all dishes but two have a price of S$3 or less, including favorites such as chicken rice, duck rice, laksa, nasi lemak, and mee goreng.

That’s why I eventually decided on a budget per meal of S$4 including drinks. I figured it would make more sense to set a base budget of S$4 — anyway, that’s what most budget meals will cost — and then if someone can afford to buy more expensive food then yay!

Of course, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I did mess up the numbers in my actual article so…

Mea culpa!

I’m very sorry for the confusion. It’s still quite possible to go on a 5-day trip to Singapore for ₱9,500 — just fix the budget for food. 🙂

All About Singapore

STGMT_Ritz Carlton Millenia Singapore_03_Study View


It’s the one country outside the Philippines that I’ve visited the most and there are definitely more Singapore articles in my Procrastination Draft folder so stay tuned!






© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains 

The Southern Ridges: Off The Tourist Track in Singapore


14 Singapore Southern Ridges Trail

My sister Lei surrounded by flowers

I’d been to Singapore three times before but always, it seemed, in the company of first-time visitors. For that reason my previous routes were almost always a combination of the usual stops: Orchard Road, the Merlion, Singapore Zoo, Chinatown, Sentosa. On this, my fourth visit, I was determined to go somewhere I hadn’t been to before.

The Southern Ridges is a 10-km trail in the southwest section of Singapore that winds through parks, forest, and pedestrian footpaths. My sister and I began our walk outside HarbourFront MRT station where a sign clearly indicated the start of the Marang Trail.

We followed the well-marked path up to Faber Park and lingered for a while, watching an elderly man feed the koi. Pink blossoms were scattered all over the fish pond and the wooden deck, from which we could see the sea, the Singapore skyline, and the cable cars carefully making their way to and from Sentosa.

It started to rain so we got back to the trail and walked faster, aware that we were nowhere near halfway and had not brought rain gear. We did stop at the Jewel Box to climb a colorful staircase that led to the Bell of Happiness. If two or more people — the sign said — came up and rang the bell together, they would be blessed with happiness and peace and harmony. Unfortunately, for some reason, my sister and I never got around to ringing it. We were probably too busy examining the smaller bells that were tied around the supporting arch. Some bells were marked with names and dates, many contained wishes, and one bell simply said: “I love my mami.” I’ve got high hopes for that last one!

The rain grew stronger as we crossed the Henderson Waves, a beautifully-designed pedestrian bridge said to be the tallest in Singapore. We had to hurry through the Forest of Giants and the Forest Walk — a pity, as the trees and the views were quite interesting. Finally, at the Alexandra Arch, we decided to cut our hike short and take the train back to our rented apartment.

The Henderson Waves | Image by Matthew Hine (CC BY 2.0)

The Henderson Waves | Image by Matthew Hine (CC BY 2.0)

Moral lesson: Bring rain gear. Ring the bell — it can’t hurt. And once in a while veer off course.

30 Singapore Southern Ridges Trail

Learn more about the Southern Ridges Trail HERE.



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The Southern Ridges: Off The Tourist Track in Singapore
© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. Contents verified as of 23 January 2015.



Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay


singapore gardens by the bay flower dome 02Singapore is one of those places you can never really tick off your bucket list. Sure, you’ve taken a photo with the Merlion, gone on the Night Safari, shopped in Orchard, frolicked in Sentosa, and gazed in fascination at the unearthly form of the Marina Bay Sands. But have you been to Gardens by the Bay?

My answer, before November last year, was no, I hadn’t, despite having been to Singapore several times. Gardens by the Bay’s main attraction, the Bay South Garden, was only opened to the public in 2012, two years after my last visit. Its two cooled conservatories, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, as well as the iconic Supertree Grove, were therefore on our list of places to visit — this time around — when my family and I went to Singapore last November.

Truth? The whole idea of Gardens by the Bay, and especially the sight of the Supertree Grove, secretly horrified me at first. It’s a wonderful place — Cebu should be so lucky to have a nice, cool garden in which to have a nice, comfortable walk to see nice, colorful plants — but the idea of a clean efficient society with metal/concrete trees, underlying racial tensions, and kids learning calculus at, like, 6 weeks AOG is a little too dystopian-future for me. The Supertrees’ photovoltaic cells notwithstanding, I’d much prefer giant sequioas, equality for all, and kids being kids.

That said, I have to admit: I liked Gardens by the Bay. We all did. My mum adored the Christmas-themed display of plants from all over the world in the Flower Dome. Hunter loved running along with kids playing football just outside the second level of the Cloud Forest. They even let him kick the ball sometimes, which delighted him to no end. And there’s no doubt that the Gardens, for all that it is man-made, was thoughtfully designed around nature — to showcase and to complement and not, surely not, hopefully not, to replace.

singapore gardens by the bay cloud forest 01

Singapore, at any rate, seems to be leading the steady march into a future of Supertrees and superkids, and we keep coming back, to watch in fascination. Maybe we will like it. Maybe we will even get to kick the ball.

Admission: SGD 28
Nearest MRT: Bayfront (Take Exit B)

singapore gardens by the bay at night 02

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

Ask and you shall receive

We had just emerged into Little India from Exit H of Farrer Park MRT and were scanning the surrounding buildings for Mustafa Centre. My father had a map of Singapore on hand and my sister was leaning over it, trying to help him figure out where we were on the map and in which direction we should head.

Meanwhile, a tall man of South Asian descent was sitting on the steps of the MRT station entrance.

“Hi,” I said to him, smiling. “Which way to Mustafa Centre?”

“Go straight and turn left,” he replied promptly.

And that’s what we did.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all my travels so far, it’s that people are usually willing to help, especially if you approach them with a smile. And also that asking for directions is so much easier than reading a map.

Ask and you shall receive” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.