Day One (Dec. 2):
Victoria, BI, and Orchard Road’s Night Life
Victoria, BI, and Orchard Road’s Night Life
At the start of the Year 2011, a year which we referred to as a "Year to Elevate” the running experience of Ateneo de Naga High School Class of 1983, one of the goals we set is to join and finish a marathon outside the country. As it turns out, given the proximity and timing, Standard Chartered Marathon 2011 became the target event abroad. Joining me in this Singapore Expedition (S.Ex.) are my fellow 83nean marathoners: Ernie “Antonio Banderas” Badong, Ed “Level-Up Boy” Balcueva, and Ruben “Fards” Fajardo. Three other classmates (Bob “Hunk of the Night” Castilla, Noel “Ghibz” Guevara and Allen “Who’s Your Daddy?” Tolledo) were supposed to join, but they got sidetrack given an agglomeration of reasons. So, the Magnificent 7 became the Fab 4 for the Batch 83 S.Ex. On the ground in Singapore, giving valuable intel and logistical support is my LG-4 classmate Bitoy.
For this priceless bonding adventure, we wrote a three-part journal. The words and pictures were a collaboration of Ernie, Ed, Fards, Bitoy, and myself.
|A sign reflective of the character of Singapore|
I arrived in Singapore on a rainy Friday morning. Cebu Pacific was the airline I used. And this Gokongwei-owned airline did not disappoint me as far as best value airlines are concerned. No lunch or snacks during the flight but budget travellers like me don’t mind these things as long as the airplane leaves on time, flies safely and arrives on time at the destination.
|The hotel where I was billeted|
While on the flight to Singapore, I got to chat with fellow travellers who were running the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) 2011. My seatmate, Dennis, was entered in the half marathon of the said event and this was his way of training for The Bull Runner Dream Marathon come March 2012. I also got to exchange pleasantries with a couple of ladies, Dulce and Mae, who turned out to be best of friends (since their college days) on a holiday in Singapore.
On my way from the airport to downtown Singapore, I inquired from the taxi driver on the weather. According to him, it had been raining daily for several days already. Given this info, I was quite optimistic that the marathon come Sunday would not be as hot and humid per intel of some friends in Singapore.
The hotel that my fellow 83nean runners and me were booked in is a six-storey budget hotel called Victoria Hotel. It is located along Victoria Street, nestled in between the Singapore Management University (Admin Bldg) and Hotel Grand Pacific. This hotel was the one picked by Bitoy when we requested him to get for us a hotel within a two-kilometer radius of the start and finish area of the SCMS. No frills about this hotel but I look at it as a very practical choice. This hotel has a 7-Eleven, Money Changer, ATM, a steakhouse at the ground floor and most importantly for a blogger, a free wi-fi. Its location puts it within a short walking distance of places to see in Singapore like the Marina Bay Sands, Merlion Park, Raffles Hotel, and places to shop like Bugis Junction and Suntec.
An added bonus for me is the hotel’s close proximity to the Singapore Art Museum (SAM). Knowing this, I wasted no time visiting the museum as I had to kill time while waiting for the rest of the 83nean runners (Fards, Ernie, and Ed) to arrive later in the night.
|Singapore Art Museum|
|Leonardo da Vinci|
|Pablo Ruiz Picasso|
|Vincent Van Gogh|
Speaking of the trio of 83nean runners, they did not have an easy time with the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the Diosdado Macapagal Airport in Clark, Angeles, Pampanga. Fards was queried with regard his needed travel order, being a military officer in the Philippine Navy. Ernie and Ed were even subjected to a 15-minute Q & A by the BI officials as the two failed to bring photocopies of their hotel confirmation, and the BI officials were quite skeptical of the duo’s story that they were runners out to participate in the SCMS. Lesson learned for runners travelling abroad for a marathon: Always have a copy for the marathon registration on hand if one wants no hassle from the BI in our airports.
Upon arrival at the Budget Terminal of Changi Airport in Singapore via a Tiger Air flight, the trio breezed thru the Immigration authorities . Queried as to what the purpose of their visit was, all responded that they would run in the Singapore Marathon and they did not get disbelieving looks.
The night of Day One, all four of us 83nean runners did a recon walk of the starting line along Orchard Road between the Mandarin Gallery and Wheelock Place. To go there from Victoria Hotel, we walked to get a better feel of the area. It was more than two kilometres, and we had a great time taking in the street nightlife of the Orchard Road.
|We are visitors!|
|S.Ex. Fab 4 in front of the many sex toy stores along Orchard Road|
|Here is another one.|
|Singapore street food at Orchard Road|
|In front of the many street performers along Orchard Road|
Day One for us ended at 12 midnight and we slept excited about the next day. Redemption time.