The First

Having reached out to many on Coachsurfing site, Bigg is the first friend I met.

Although our exchanges were rather short through messages initially, things picked up after we added each other on Facebook just 2 days before he was to arrive at Singapore. Things changed when we met for the first time at Choa Chu Kang MRT for a brunch of Bak Chor Mee (Minced Meat Noodles) and Chwee Kueh at the popular coffeeshop usually referred to as “Block 302”, located just by the bus interchange.

While having the brunch, we got to know each other a lot more. Conversations on topics like languages, religion, politics, views on education and even personal stories were exchanged. We spent about an hour plus there chatting, until he had to go off to meet another friend somewhere else.

Because of the interesting conversation that we had, we decided it couldn’t be our last!

We met again on Sunday, because knowing he is a Christian, I connected him to a church, of which a friend of mine attends, so that he could maybe feel the fellowship (sorry, not too sure if this is the word, because I’m not too good at this).

Before we headed to the church, we had a round of breakfast of Yakun toast at Lot 1, Choa Chu Kang. Then it was time for an hour bus ride.

Yakun Kaya Toast

Yakun Kaya Toast

Yakun Kaya Toast and us.

Yakun Kaya Toast and us.

After the worship, we went for lunch at a nearby Dim Sum restaurant, and the food was good~ Forgot to take pictures of the food though, I only have picture of our friends and Bigg.

With friends (of friend but now my friends :D) and Bigg on the rightmost!

With friends (of friend but now my friends :D) and Bigg on the rightmost!

After lunch at a nearby dim sum restaurant.

After lunch at a nearby dim sum restaurant.

After lunch, I had a some free time left before I had to go off to attend an event, so since both of us likes languages and reading, we decided to go up the National Library to the highest level we can, before we headed home.

View from 13th Floor of National Library. It was a little hazy.

View from 13th Floor of National Library. It was a little hazy.

We both had a rest for the night, and we met again on Monday night, when I decided maybe I could have him over at my place for a night, and head to have some local Indian breakfast the next morning. During his stayover, I learnt a lot about the Thai language, and now I have regained the confidence to tackle the difficulty of the language. The next morning, we headed to Alif Restaurant at Bukit Gombak for a big and filling breakfast, and again we had a very fulfilling discussion of many topics. While we were leaving the restaurant, we decided to explore the area, and we found ourselves at Little Guilin, which is located just beside Bukit Gombak MRT too.

Breakfast at the popular Alif Restaurant.

Breakfast at the popular Alif Restaurant.

Some time at the little gem, Little Guilin.

Some time at the little gem, Little Guilin.

And a few selfies to prove we were here. 到此一游。

And a few selfies to prove we were here. 到此一游。

After the little morning time out, we are now back at my house, and it is near the end of Bigg’s travel in Singapore. I have some idea of travelling to Thailand now to join him on some Thailand adventure. Will it come into fruition?

(Not the) Final farewell outside my abode.

(Not the) Final farewell outside my abode, with Bigg and a photo taken by me.

Let’s see….

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Singapore Local Travel Guide

Hi fellow Earthlings,

About Me

A Singaporean wanting to become a local guide for foreigners looking for local experience. I am doing it for free.

Currently, I am able to guide English, Chinese and Korean speakers.

Why?

Over the past few years, I have traveled to a few countries, have had an semester exchange in POSTECH, Pohang, South Korea, and have met many international friends over the trips. With these new international friends, we talk about our cultures, our religions, our politics, our families, our stories.

I love listening to all the stories from another Earthling who spends his or her life on another part of Earth, because that will show me another world which I had not known about. My love for listening to such stories has inspired me to try this, because I would not only be a guide, but also a friend.

Also, being rather familiar with South Korea, during my 5 month stay in South Korea, I brought some friends around the country and some cities/towns, and when my friends are having fun, it brings me a lot of satisfaction.

Back in Singapore, I have successfully introduced Singapore to several friends by having a walk at a local market and having local food outside of the town area.

Brazilian friend having wanton mee and teh peng (tea with milk) at a hawker centre near my home.

Brazilian friend having wanton mee and teh peng (tea with milk) at a hawker centre near my home.

Brazilian friend at my home, and also tasting mangosteen for the first time.

Brazilian friend at my home, and also tasting mangosteen for the first time.

Showed my German friend around Marina Bay Sands for a little tour with 2 of my friends.

Showed my German friend around Marina Bay Sands for a little tour with 2 of my friends.

Brought the German friend to my place. This picture was taken at Yew Tee MRT station.

Brought the German friend to my place. This picture was taken at Yew Tee MRT station.

What do I do?

  1. Short tour around the “must go” places when visiting Singapore
  2. A trip out of the “must go” places to a Singapore neighborhood, for a walk or a meal as you requests or as I suggest
  3. Act as a great chatting companion during your travel

While I like to bring foreigners around Singapore, below are what I do not offer:

  1. Night life activities like clubbing and heavy drinking
  2. No personal transport
  3. No Accommodation

Languages

I can speak fluent English and Chinese, and enough Korean to understand half a Modern Physics lesson taught in Korean.

I have studied officially Level 1 (the most basic) Japanese and German. I am currently studying basic Russian. I can yet hold basic conversations with these languages.

Finally, I am looking forward to learning Spanish and French too.

Interested?

Travelling to Singapore and looking for a local guide for a more local experience? If you are interested, send me an email at xiurenyap@gmail.com.

In the email, let me know when you are visiting, and any interesting place you might want to visit, or a local food you want to try.

Day 5 Part 2: Metasequoia Road and Yonghwasa

In my grand plan for the day, I had only wanted to take a walk at the Metasequoia Road nearby before heading out of Damyang to maybe another town for a walk or something, but I got lost while searching for the tree lined road. And I’m glad I did. It was then that I got to experience the most serene walk I ever got to in South Korea.

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Stepping out of the Bamboo forest, I headed left to search for the Metasequoia Road as depicted on the map I had on hand. The things that first came into sight was this stone steps across the river, followed by some street stalls. Without knowing that the walk would end up being such a long one, I strolled on, passing by bridges, and other buildings I have no idea what they were. School or hospital perhaps, but they were quite out of town.

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A sleeping fisherman.

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No idea what that is. A cemetry?

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The fisherman woke up! oh, and I love the view of those mountains and clouds in the background.

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Schools? Hospitals???

These were probably the last of the buildings I saw for awhile, until I reach this farm.

Dog guarding the farm's entrance.

Dog guarding the farm’s entrance.

Dog guarding the farm's entrance.

Dog guarding the farm’s entrance.

Cow and Cat.

Cows and Cat.

Right after the farm, a little flyover appeared and I crossed it to the other side of the little river, where I found myself in the middle of the Metasequoia Road. Peculiarly though, the ticketing office was there, at the middle. Initially I didn’t know we had to get a ticket, until the guy inside it pushed open the window and called out to me.

On one side,

On one side,

and on the other.

and on the other.

After snapping some photos and taking some walk around, I left the place walking toward Damyang town as depicted on the map. The tree-lined road started to die down into a small road, which stretches out quite long before I reach the Yonghwasa temple, with the only sights to be some small vegetable farms.

How farms look like during winter.

How farms look like during winter.

Little village(?) nearby Damyang.

Little village(?) nearby Damyang, with the sign that directs people to the temple.

Finally, the sign to the temple. So how does the temple look like within?

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Sign right outside the temple.

A very big statue/monument that seems to overlook the town and the bamboo forest.

A very big statue/monument that seems to overlook the town and the bamboo forest.

Colorful structures within the temple

Colorful structures within the temple

Colorful structures within the temple

Colorful structures within the temple

Today was a day I kept getting lost. A day where I got lost while finding the tree-lined road, and got lost again after that before finding yonghwasa (the temple), and then again later looking for a way back to the bus terminal.
An ahjumma approached me and asked if I was a student on a project. I explained that I was a student, but from Singapore and not on any project. I took the chance to ask her about how I could get to Damyang bus terminal, and when she replied to my query, she grabbed my hands and explained to me how to get to the bus terminal. Such act of warmth. Probably something I’ll not forget anytime soon.

Later on, on the way toward the bus terminal, which had started to seem quite far after a 15minutes walk, I chanced upon a bus stop that had the bus which I needed to get to Damyang terminal. So I waited there for The Bus to get me back to Gwangju and the Namdo Hostel where I was staying at.

Singapore Neighbourhood Nightscape

Night view of Yew Tee MRT station and the neighbouring HDB flats and condominiums.

Night view of Yew Tee MRT station and the neighbouring HDB flats and condominiums.

To end this post off, I’ll pair it off with one of my favourite quotes from George R.R. Martin. Oh yes, I’m back in Singapore, and will be heading off to South Korea in a month for a semester exchange!

“There are many stories over there. There are people behind every light, and each person has a life, a story. Only they lead those lives without ever touching us, so we’ll never know the stories.” -George R.R Martin.