09/09/2016 § Leave a comment
I am part of the hospitality industry, and working in a hotel in Singapore. The city-state, in general, is an expensive city/country to be in. It is a general knowledge, really. Even the locals would admit to it; some would even say ‘anywhere outside Singapore is cheap’. That is probably the reason why travelling outside of the country is the ‘IN’ thing, for both locals and expats.
With the high-cost of living comes better public facilities which are very useful and convenient for locals and foreigners alike. And honestly, Singapore isn’t so bad of a country to be in. But what you would have spent in the country to have a good holiday would probably go far in other cities, say, Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh, or the closest neighbor, Johor Bahru. And the regular low fares from budget airlines is just fueling the fire, which to the travel savvies are jackpot. Even I am subscribed to get email notifications should there be sale on airfares. My only problem is that I normally don’t get to enjoy the holiday in peace.
Working in a hotel means having to deal with the holiday rush. Holiday means business for our industry, which means busy period, peak or high season. And when it is an expected busy period to the hotel, it also means lesser people being allowed to go on leave at once, sometimes, no one is even allowed to at all. It is an unspoken rule, with exceptions if you are celebrating that holiday. I get off the hook for Christmas because I am Catholic, but it isn’t a very long leave either because of the year-end festivities. It is common to have a man-power shortage in our line of work, especially in Singapore, and it has been like that for a long time now. And for peak periods in the hotel industry, we try to have as much people on duty as we could.
Probably because of my line of work that I found interest in travelling to different places, to see other things besides high-rise buildings, and city life. I deal with different people everyday, mostly of varied nationalities. Some come to Singapore for business purpose, while others for leisure. If guests ask me what is good to do in Singapore, I would answer with the typical must-visit places. In the back of my mind though, I would always think that there’s actually nothing to do in Singapore, especially one that isn’t expensive. I also got used to the travel patterns of certain nationalities. If it is winter in their place, they come to somewhere warmer like Singapore. That being said, Singapore is also a hub for transits from the west to the south. If a UK nationality is already landing in Singapore on the way to Australia, might as well do a little city tour before proceeding to their destination. It is to cut the flying hours, rest a little and get used to the difference in time zone. I guess I have been exposed to the industry for a long while now that these patterns are something I use for general knowledge, and sometimes to my benefit.
Travelling for me is usually Singapore-Philippines route. That was before I went to Bali with friends. I joined because it was like a second home to one of my dear friends and he covered most of my expenses. It was a great place, much like Philippines in terms of infrastructures, roads, and weather conditions, and definitely a must visit place. It’s a plus that it’s cheaper than Singapore. That was in year 2013, my second year in Singapore. On 2014, I braved it out and booked a flight to Phuket. That was when I started travelling solo.
That is probably when I became engrossed with travelling, most of the time by myself. I experience new things, see new places, learn a new language, and understand another culture. There is always a thrill for discovering new things, and with travelling comes an unending thrill for trying something different, and seeing something new. It’s like you’re on a shot of adrenaline rush during your entire stay overseas. You’re like a mass of life and energy, always ready for something different, laughing off something that went wrong. You become a vibe of optimism while you are in a different country, and you let nothing to make you go awry.
I think that going to a different country, being exposed to a different culture, and getting to see things that the locals normally just ignore on a daily basis, is a great thing. It’s part self-discovery, and part exploration. Self-discovery because you get to appreciate things that you normally ignore everyday, like enjoying a decent meal after your 8-hr shift while others worked the whole day just to barely provide food for their families. You improve yourself as a person, you learn how to connect and communicate to others better without having to know their language, and you see things you normally don’t on your pampered little life. You get to explore things outside your normal circle, try food you’ve never even heard before, learn words for basic greetings which will probably be the only things you would learn of the language, and see other places you usually see on that travel blog you’re following. The list would go on on why you should travel but to several people, it’s sometimes a far-fetched dream, or a hard-earned splurging.
Travelling is just a recent addition to the things that I do. Granted the cost of having a good time in Singapore, I have started packing my things to fly somewhere instead of staying at home to sleep-in late, and going shopping afterwards. It’s a good thing that travelling comes easy in Singapore. There is easy access to lots of international airports for budget airlines. In case the point of embarkation comes a little above your budget if coming from Singapore, you can always check flights from Kuala Lumpur, or Bangkok. It could be a little hassle but there are a few flights coming from Singapore that would definitely fit your schedule. I’ve been to a few countries and cities in Asia, and still in the process of seeing as much of the continent as I could. Not all the places that I wanted to visit have direct flights (that are cheap) from Singapore, that’s why I need to do a little research to see from which airport, which is accessible from Singapore, I could get a cheaper flight.
Being a hotelier and liking to travel is a little difficult. Firstly, I don’t get to enjoy a weekly 2-day off, and planning my leave is a pain. I need to find available dates that my colleagues have not taken yet, so I get to enjoy my holiday without worrying about it being cancelled because someone has requested for leave first. Secondly, I really can’t enjoy the holiday spirit because while everyone else is on the holiday mood, I’m working my ass off dealing with another person who’s on a holiday mood that has been ruined. Taking leaves and off-in-lieu’s on holiday season is a no-go. I don’t get to enjoy the holiday period promos, and holiday festivities. I am in the line of work that deals with holidays, so I can’t celebrate the holiday on the day itself. Is that a bad thing for me? Honestly, no.
The good thing about my line of work is since I can’t travel on peak periods, I can always travel during off-season. Off season means less people travelling, cheaper airfares, and more lodging options to choose from. I am the type that likes to enjoy the holiday in peace and travelling on high season is probably something I wouldn’t even dare. And I basically don’t like the crowd. I like to use my time doing things on my own pace instead of wasting it queuing for that must-go UNESCO World heritage site jam packed with hundreds or thousands of other tourists. I have a list of places to visit, and things to do that are probably more on the off-beaten path, but I still want to see what tourists, backpackers, and travelers usually go to see. And the best time to enjoy the famous attractions is to go during low season.
I work in hotel and I like travelling. Granted my line of work, you might say I know the tricks for hotels…well, yes, but I normally don’t use it to my advantage. I don’t ask the receptionist upon check-in if they are full house, and ask for a free upgrade if they are not. I don’t try to be that fussy guest that I hate. I am usually always on a budget travel, but I don’t spare myself from enjoying my holiday to the fullest. As I like travelling alone, I do not need to think of what other people wanted to do. I think the best part is that I don’t need to wait for anyone, or worry that they do not like something that I want to do. I can manage my time, and make adjustments according to my whims. I do not need to think about another person. All I need to do and relax, and enjoy my holiday. It’s not that travelling with friends is too much of a hassle (though it is at times), but I prefer to enjoy my freedom without anything, or anyone, to worry about. Perhaps, I just haven’t found that travel buddy who is exactly like me. But, travelling by yourself, on a non-peak period is probably one of the best times that I always enjoy.