To find out how we booked this insane $300 trip from LA to Singapore…click here!
Our flight left Los Angeles on Wednesday, 1:45pm. We had two long legs to this flight, an 11-hour journey from LA to Tokyo (Narita Airport), with a very quick stop to catch a connecting flight to Singapore. All this time, I had this stuck in my head that the flight from Tokyo to Singapore would be about 3 hours long. Wrong! It was close to 8 hours. This made it a very long day of travel. It’s a good thing that Japan Airlines kept us fed and hydrated close to 24 hours of flying.
Traveling to far distant places also allows me to watch movies that I don’t get to see in the big screen. For these two flights, I watched Spotlight, Wonder Woman, Hidden Figures, and The Intern. Even with all those movies, I still had an opportunity to sleep for about 4 hours on each flight. Overall, it was an easy flight from the US all the way to Singapore.
We arrived at Singapore’s Changi International Airport close to 1am (very early Friday morning). Since we had no checked luggage, we headed straight to immigration, and after a couple of minutes of basic Q&A, we made our way towards the lobby where my cousin, Joey, waited for our arrival.
Joey and I reconnected on Facebook over 5 years ago. We both couldn’t remember when we last saw one another. It must’ve been in the early 80’s – so we’re talking over 30 years ago. Joey’s mom and my dad are siblings. I do remember seeing his mom, Tita Linda, during a 2000 visit to the Philippines, and for sure, I don’t remember seeing Joey then. To be honest, I could not have put the puzzle pieces together back then. It was a blur.
Fast foward to 2017 when I booked our trip to Singapore, I thought it would give me a perfect opportunity to reach out to Joey so we could meet during our visit. From the get-go, he already offered his apartment to me and Nancy as a place for us to stay. We exchanged many messages over the past few months, and a few phone calls via FB messenger. We agreed on an itinerary for our very abbreviated visit, a visit that would sure tire all of us, but heck, we were on vacation.
Once Joey saw us, we started to chat and made our way outside where the cabs were located. We made our way towards Pasir Ris, it’s the section of Singapore where they live, very close to the airport – about 15 minutes away.
We arrived at their apartment close to 2am, and as we drove towards their apartment, he pointed all the local eateries, hawker centers, that were still opened at that time. I had my eyes and tummy set on going there. We brought our stuff upstairs to their apartment on the 3rd floor. Miriam aka Yam, Joey’s wife, woke up and welcomed us. Their 3 kids were asleep. She encouraged us to eat downstairs, while she stayed with the kids.
How convenient was it to have these hawker-style eateries right then and there? So convenient. We opted to go with the nearest stall and ordered Laksa (coconut soup with fishcakes, clams, noodles with a bit of spice), while Nancy order Hokkien Prawn Noodles. That was our very first meal, made right on the spot at two o’clock in the morning.
We didn’t stay out too long. Joey had to work in the morning, and we had to get some sleep. We all returned to the apartment. I struggled to sleep. That was just me. I am like that whenever I’m in a new place – hotel or house. So all I did was closed my eyes and rested.
I got up around 7am, their 3 kids were already getting ready for school. I met Nathan and Liam. Their youngest, Kiefer, stayed home as he had been sick for the past couple of days.
By 9am, before Joey went to work, we all decided to go downstairs for breakfast. Not exactly a simple breakfast, but it was Asian breakfast galore!!!! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
After breakfast, aaaahhhhh that’s when it hit me. Weariness….there! I went to bed around 10am and woke up close to 2pm. By then, we also got ready for the rest of the afternoon’s adventure…and made our way to the city. We opted to take Bus #518. From Pasir Ris, it took over an hour, but there was no sign of any bumper to bumper traffic. Amazing. On a Friday….nothing!!! No traffic. We arrived at Marina Bay Sands and met up with Joey close to 4pm. We checked in to our room on the 19th floor. we had panoramic views of Gardens by the Bay. It was gorgeous, a very clear Friday afternoon.
We decided to head down to walk around and take pictures. It was humid, I had forgotten how humidity felt, thanks a lot for the reminder! HA!!! We made our way back to the hotel and opted to stay around the area for dinner. The option that evening? Din Tai Fung Singapore. We waited for about 20 minutes but it was worth the wait. We ordered Xiao Long Bao, Hot n Sour soup, and a few other favorites. That was delicious. I expected nothing less from Din Tai Fung.
After dinner, we walked outside for a bit to enjoy the Singapore skyline, and shortly after, Joey and family headed back home. Nancy and I stayed and had the rest of the evening to enjoy the rooftop pool at Marina Bay Sands. What a perfect evening to be dipping in a lukewarm pool. The views? Just majestic….the colorful skyline. Hard not appreciate this architecture from the 57th floor. It was magnificent. We stayed in the pool area for a couple of hours until the lifeguards told us it was time to go. Not a bad first long day in Singapore. We were nonstop!
How we got started to travel for nearly for free
There are many credit cards out there. The points earned with Chase have been my favorite for many years. These Ultimate Rewards points could be used for airfare, hotel, car rentals. Here are the Chase Cards that I, myself, use on a regular basis which can earn you these Ultimate Rewards.
a. Chase Sapphire Preferred (click here) earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a perfect starter card. With its current 60,000 bonus points, those points alone have gotten us two tickets to Hawaii, have gotten us to many countries and cities in Europe and Asia, just as an example. The sign up bonus alone can be worth as much as $1,000 or more in travel.
– 60,000 Ultimate Rewards sign up bonus after $4,000 in spend in the first three months
– Points are transferable to:
- Hotel Partners
- Airline travel partners
- United Airlines
- British Airways
- Southwest Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Flying Blue
- Virgin Atlantic
- Aer Lingus
– Points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal
– Primary rental car collision damage waiver
– Earn 2X points on all travel and dining
– $95 annual fee
If I were just starting out in earning miles and points, I suggest starting out with this card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred
b. Chase Sapphire Reserve – earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards (I don’t have an active link at the time this was published, feel free to search on the net for a recent link, or check with me). Here’s a write up that I wrote on both Sapphire cards.
c. Chase Ink Business Preferred– earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards, perfect for those with small business.
I value my points earned with Chase. Here’s a write-up I wrote last year as to how we travel for nearly free (click here) with points earned with these credit cards.
For other cards that have helped us travel for nearly free, I recently I updated my favorite travel credit cards. I’ve also written this recently:
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Lastly, here Reader Success Tales that I featured on my site.
- Ben and Family’s visit at the Andaz Maui
- The Yamaguchi’s European Holiday Vacation
- Stephen & Fiona’s Aspirational Trip to Japan
- $80 Trip to Costa Rica for 2 – Vanessa’s Tale
- Traveling is not just for the rich – Iza’s $11 Trip to Hawaii
- Last-minute trip to Hawaii – Bryan & Emily’s Tale
- The Smith Sisters conquer New York City – Gina’s Tale
- Seeing the world through my children’s eyes – Maricar’s tale