How We Spent a 6-hour Layover in Singapore Changi Airport

Expat Life, Wanderings

We had a 6-hour layover in Singapore on our flight from Dubai to Manila and we decided to spend it inside Changi Airport. Six hours might seem a long stretch for some but when you are in one of the world’s best airports, time flies.

I prepared an itinerary for the things to see and do in all the terminals but factoring in all our stops and sleep-deprived selves, we only managed to check out some spots in terminals 1, 2 and 3.

Here’s a rundown of our Changi experience.

Terminal 3

Our flight landed at Terminal 3 where the Butterfly Garden is located.

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The area has two levels but it isn’t that huge and a good 15-30 minutes would be enough to explore and observe the different species of butterflies. We had to cut short our visit though because someone was already hangry.

We stopped by a currency exchange stall to have our AE dirhams exchanged  to Singaporean dollars (1 AED = 0.37 SGD). AED 100 was equivalent to S$34 after transaction fees, more than enough for food since we didn’t have plans of buying anything at the airport.

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There are plenty of fancy restaurants in Changi but Singapore Food Street at Terminal 3 offers great choices at a more affordable price. You need to get a cash card though and preload it with SGD (I’m not sure if you can use other currencies but most likely it will still be converted to SGD) and use it to purchase from the different stalls. The card counter is located right at the entrance of the food street. Any balance left will be refunded to you once you return the card.

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We opted for a roasted duck and pork set and mais con yelo for dessert (I forgot how they call it but it sure did look like one to me). This meal cost around S$20 including the bottled water we bought. *Water is expensive in Singapore. I suggest you bring a tumbler and refill it. There are several water fountains inside the airport and it’s for free. 

Terrminal 2

Thanks to the Skytrain, getting to and from the terminals is very convenient. We boarded one to take us to Terminal 2.

The Orchid Garden and Koi Pond was pretty impressive considering it is in the middle of an airport. We were supposed to check out the Sunflower Garden but it was temporarily closed.

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We passed by the popular Irvin’s Salted Egg Chips stall and couldn’t resist buying. We used our Changi Dollar Voucher so no additional damage done on our pockets.

Every transit passenger travelling on Singapore Airlines or Silk Air is entitled to a Changi Dollar Voucher worth S$20. Please check this link to know more about eligibility to this rewards program. There’s two of us so that’s a whooping S$40 and please don’t question us if we spent it all on salted egg chips.

Terminal 1

After splurging our CDV, we headed to Terminal 1 for the Cactus Garden. We were already short on time so this was a quick one. Took a few snaps then we headed back to Terminal 2 to board our flight.

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Here’s a list of the rest of the things we wanted to check out if we had more time.

  • T1 – Kinetic Rain Sculpture, Water Lily Garden/Sculptural Tree Garden
  • T2 – Enchanted Garden, Entertainment Deck & Experience Zone
  • T3 – Shilla Beauty Loft, Longest Slide, Orchid Garden (yes, there’s another orchid garden in T3, why not)
  • T4 – Peranakan Gallery, Petal Clouds

Layovers at Changi won’t ever be boring as there are a lot of things to do. You can take a dip at the rooftop swimming pool, check in at an airport hotel to get a good rest, go to a spa to relax or you can also catch some sleep at the free sleeping areas.

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The Social Tree at Terminal 1. You can take a photo or video and upload it into this interactive installation.

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The whole airport is equipped with WIFI. You only need to register with your passport or local number if you have one. Internet kiosks are also present almost everywhere you turn.

We personally won’t mind spending another layover at Changi.


*Our flight arrived at 7:30 in the morning and departed for Manila at 1:50 in the afternoon.

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Hala China Launch: Wind from the Sea, the Belt & Road Dance Special at Dubai Opera

Expat Life, Wanderings

When you’re given an opportunity to witness an important and culturally entertaining event at THE Dubai Opera, you do not hesitate. You say yes, and take it with gratitude.

Last Sunday, my husband, I and some friends were at the launch of Hala China, a government initiative led by Meraas and Dubai Holding that aims to boost the number of Chinese tourists in the emirate and improve trade relations between Dubai and China.

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The guests were welcomed by H.H. Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Hala China and H.E. Li Lingbing, Consul General of the Consulate of People’s Republic of China in Dubai and together with the strategic partners, Hala China was officially launched.

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The opening ceremony was followed by a children’s performance of the Thousand Character Classic then the highlight of the night, the Wind from the Sea produced by the Zhejiang Song and Dance Theatre Company.

The Belt and Road Dance special was composed of 12 dances relating the journey through the Silk Road giving emphasis on Silk, Ceramic and Tea products.

The music was engaging and the dances graceful yet filled with power. It was an enjoyable show and a great production overall but what this night truly brought was wider opportunities in business, travel and tourism sectors among others.

Hala China is expected to hold more events throughout the year to further promote the goals of the initiative.


The beautiful photos are courtesy of Shalan Photography.

Ramadan 2018 Reminders

Expat Life

Whether you’re fresh off the boat or have been living here in the UAE (or any Muslim country) for a long time, it always helps to be reminded of the several dos and don’ts during the holy month of Ramadan.

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The Don’ts:

  • Do not eat or drink in public during the hours of fasting. Smoking is also prohibited. You are excused however if you’re pregnant, an elderly or suffering from an illness as fasting might pose health problems.
  • Do not wear revealing or tight clothes. This is already observed throughout the year but is strictly imposed during Ramadan.
  • Do not be loud. No shouting, swearing, singing, playing of loud music and definitely no dancing in public.
  • Public display of affection is considered as offensive so avoid kissing, hugging or cuddling your husband, wife, partner or friend/s especially of the opposite sex.
  • If you are working in a front office or reception, refrain from offering guests with refreshments even if you’re not sure if they’re fasting or not.

The Dos:

  • Embrace the spirit of peace and contemplation. This is the best time to reflect on and be thankful of the countless blessings and opportunities that this country has given you.
  • Be extra understanding towards those who fast. They do it from sunrise to sundown so imagine how challenging that might be. Others might be a bit irritable but just be more patient and considerate.
  • Experience the culture – for one, partake in the many Iftar offers. Take your family or friends with you and feel the lively energy of the community after they have broken their fast for the day. I tell you, the city becomes so vibrant at night during this season.
  • Greet the people you encounter Ramadan Mubarak (have a blessed Ramadan) or Ramadan Kareem (have a generous Ramadan).

Remember that Ramadan is a sacred month for the Muslim community so it is important to respect these rules even if you’re non-Muslim.

May you all have a happy and blessed Ramadan!

Why You Should Check Out Alserkal Avenue

Expat Life, Wanderings

I came across this hip and artsy location while I was on my daily morning routine, scanning my emails which are generally boring. I mostly receive spam aside from the occasional interesting ones from several sites I have subscribed to. So when I saw a feature about this ‘culture and arts hub’ I did not hesitate to badger Mat that we should go and check it out. 😛

Disclaimer: We are in no way an artist or something of that sort. I’d describe us as ‘lurkers’. Hehe! But we have always been interested in these kind of things. 

So, after all of our Friday chores, off we went to Alserkal Avenue. The place is a collection of warehouses converted into creative spaces located in Al Quoz.

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Enclosed by concrete walls, the facade seemed uninviting. But as they say, do not judge a book by its cover. What is inside will often surprise you, and surprised we were!

Exploring Old Dubai: Abra Ride, Gold & Spice Souks and Museum Visit

Expat Life, Wanderings

Dubai as a metropolitan city that it is, is famous for skyscrapers, luxurious hotels, lavish resorts, massive malls and other ‘superb’ attractions. But what lies in the city’s heart is its true charm – the Old Dubai.

We started off at Al Shindagha area as it was the nearest from where we live. We got off at Al Ghubaiba bus station and walked several meters to reach the Bur Dubai Abra Station. Our sole plan on that day was just to experience riding the abra but since there were cultural spots in proximity, we decided to explore some.

House of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Saeed Al Maktoum

On our way to the abra station, we passed by Sheikh Khalifa Bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s house turned museum also known as Juthoor Art Center. Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum is the grandfather of Dubai’s current ruler and this was his official residence during his reign as monarch until 1958. It houses artworks and several vintage items depicting Emirati lifestyle.

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The view upon entering the premises.

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Artworks and historical items on display.

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Nose-rubbing is the Emiratis’ custom way of greeting one another.  This is also practiced in other cultures (i.e. Maori people of New Zealand).

Flying Cathay Pacific at 34 Weeks Pregnant

Expat Life, Random Musings

I can imagine how anxious and worried my husband and our families were while I was flying home. I was travelling alone after all at 34 weeks pregnant on a long-haul flight. I was pretty scared too but thankfully, I was in good hands (or should I say airlines).

I’m certainly not the first one to do this and I would like to give props to the amazing mommies who hurdled the long hours of flight, lay-overs and security checks without the comfort of their partners and only had themselves and the kind people they encountered along the way.

I booked an economy class airfare from Cathay Pacific for my Dubai-Manila-Dubai journey last year. As it is Hong Kong’s flag carrier, there was a short layover at Hong Kong International Airport.

I was already content because the airline has one of the most generous legrooms at 32 inches for long-haul economy flights.

But, sometimes, pleasant surprises come along.

Throwback Series: Dubai Museum

Expat Life, Wanderings

Learning the history of your adoptive city, I say, is a must. Do not be a stranger, acquaint yourself with your new home albeit temporary. If you happen to be here in the desert city, one good place to start at is the Dubai Museum at Al Fahidi Port.

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Throwback Series: The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Expat Life, Wanderings

If you’re living in the UAE and haven’t yet visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, you are greatly missing out on a rich cultural experience. The Grand Mosque is a symbol of the diverse Islamic community not only of this country but of the whole world. The architectural design is impeccable. The grandeur and solemnity elates you yet also calms your senses. Seeing it in pictures and being there in person are two different worlds.

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Located in the capital city of Abu Dhabi, the Grand Mosque is one of the largest in the world and can hold about 40,000 worshipers at one time. The ceiling is adorned with gold-plated chandeliers made of Swarovski crystals while the floor with hand-knotted carpet. It is a magnificent sight to behold.

Of Pomegranates and Monasteries: A Trip to Armenia

Expat Life, Wanderings

*This has been sitting in my drafts for over a year. Never had the time to transfer and process the photos. Excuses, I know. ;-p

My best friend and life partner recently came back from a trip to Armenia where pomegranates are abundant, wine is cheap and ancient monasteries are a common sight.

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Sevanakvank Monastery at Lake Sevan.

This country in the Caucasus region is famous for the magnificent views of Mt. Ararat which is actually located in the eastern part of Turkey that borders with Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is believed to be the mountains where Noah’s Ark rested after the great flood.

La Mer on New Year’s Day

Expat Life, Wanderings

Happy New Year everyone!

Quite late but we’re still on the first month of 2018 so it still counts! 

Dubai has always captivated us in terms of architecture, open spaces and its beaches. We hail from a quiet and laid-back province in the Philippines so coming here and seeing all these mega structures just leave us gawking. It’s not that we don’t have high-rise buildings back home but here in Dubai, it’s just different – in a fascinating way.

So on the first day of the new year, we went for a walk along the newest beachfront development in Jumeirah 1 – La Mer

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It’s like a city on the beach. The vibe was very relaxing with all the contemporary, rustic and minimalist elements all coming together.