Singapore is very close to home and my dad worked there for some time, so it’s a bit of a surprise that I only managed a trip there this January. So when we chanced upon some super cheap flights, my friends from work decided it was finally time to visit.
My first impression of Singapore was, “Good God, it’s so clean!”. Coming from a country where the capital is a testament to human neglect and disregard for the simplest laws, a place so clean and orderly is something of a shocker. Anyway, here’s my first Singapore experience, day by day.
Amrise Hotel – Mongkok Dimsum – Citylink Mall – Marina Square – Esplanade – Bay Area – Makansutra – MBS via Helix Bridge – Raffles Place – Merlion Park
One of the first things you must do is buy an EZ link. It’s like the Oyster card in London and you use it to get around, like a magic carpet. Okay, fine, not like a magic carpet. But you use it to ride the trains, the buses, and even the cabs. Also, but I have yet to try this, you can use it for purchases at 7-11, except the one at the airport.
We checked in at our– well, we can’t exactly call it a hotel– hostel, Amise Inn. It was a very cheap place, especially by Singapore standards. For that price, I can’t really expect anything more than the tiny bedroom where the majority of the floor area is occupied by the bed. Aside from the wonky smells at the lobby and the fact that they did not take out the trash for the duration of our stay there, the place was good enough for something to just sleep and take a bath in. Plus it’s very near Aljunied station. I will stay somewhere else next time though. Marina Bay Sands, maybe?
Haha, keep dreaming. After dumping our stuff, we went out in search of food. There are many hawker-type food places near our hostel and we chose one semi-randomly.
Raph is a friend and former colleague who now works in Singapore, living the good life. He came straight from work to whisk us off into the (figurative) Singapore sunset.
All the nice, new shops that greeted me at every mall was great at first. I prematurely declared to Raph that “I’ll never get bored here, what with all these shops!” (Wrong.) Maybe this would be true if I wasn’t a stingy pauper.
Makansutra was where Raph and Sharra (another friend who’s also working there now) took us to dinner. It’s this open-air dining with lots of food stalls offering different types of dishes. We also met up with Jing’s cousin, who works in the same company as we do, but in Singapore.
We managed to catch the light show at Marina Bay, which I enjoyed immensely. The “What A Wonderful World” number almost brought tears to my eyes, it was so… pretty.
It was a good call to check out the Merlion Bridge at night because we managed to avoid the masses of tourists having their pics taken at this Singapore icon when it’s light out.
We decided to stop by at a the Starbucks near (at?) the Merlion Park because a pretentious coffee fan is a pretentious coffee fan anywhere in the world. I was disappointed that there wasn’t a beverage that was available there that wasn’t available here (like when I went to the Beatles-themed Starbucks in Liverpool, insert humblebrag here) but hey, we do share the same timezone as Singapore.
IKEA – Anchor Point – Queen’s Shopping Center – Mr. Bean – Changi City Point – random bean curd stall near our hostel
Have you ever been in an IKEA store? It’s a-mah-zing. All signs point towards me filling my future flat with IKEA furniture until it’s over-furnished and full of stuff I don’t really need. Since I still don’t own said flat, the part of IKEA I got to enjoy most that day was the food hall. They have these incredibly yummy, tiny Swedish meatballs swimming in gravy, served with a side of mashed potatoes, and topped with lingonberry jam. Just thinking about it is making me hanker for some. The Swedes know their stuff.
We also monkeyed around in manner of “500 Days of Summer” though probably not as cute as Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Probably.
Once we got our fill of IKEA (and filled our shopping bags with stuff we can fit in our luggage), we went to Anchor Point, a mall with these retail outlets, like Charles & Keith and Billabong. It’s right across from IKEA, if I recall correctly. There were a couple of shoes from Charles & Keith that I was eyeing and they were really cheap too. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), they didn’t carry any of it in my size.
After Anchor Point, we went to Queen’s Shopping Center. This leg of the trip is specifically for me and Pat as Queen’s Shopping Center carries a huge selection of sports stores. Pat and I were in football heaven, until we found out it’s 2 SGD a letter for shirt printing plus 10 SGD for the number. I guess my V-E-R-M-A-E-L-E-N shirt would have to wait until the end of season sale at Arsenal direct. I did score a Real Madrid calendar for me and an Arsenal one for Jerome. The rest of the stuff just has to wait until I’m sure I can survive the entire trip with what little cash I brought.
We returned to our hostel for a spell after that so we can get a bit of rest, but not before stopping at one of the Mr. Bean stores scattered around the city. We will never ever let Pat forget how she misunderstood what the salesperson was asking (“Kowah? Wahmah?”) and ended up with hot soya milk on a sweltering day.
Then it was back to the hostel for a wild party at our super swanky, not-at-all tiny room. Not really, we just had a midnight snack at a bean curd place near our place. (Yes, I do realize we are food-centric as a group)
To be continued…