The Day I Went To Singapore

Has it really been 10 days since my last update? *Checks list* Okay, I'm sorry it has been 11 days since my last update. I could have sworn to have typed out a draft the other day but clearly that didn't work out that well. Half the time I'm in the office and when I'm home, the only things I want to do is to take a shower, spend some time with the old folks then smother all my soft toys to sleep. But here I am again, popping in for a quick update!

So last Friday, I took the day off from work to take my mother down to Singapore for the weekends because I thought she really needed an escape from being cooped up at home and just playing the housewife role. No, mummy has always been very outgoing and walks the streets with me so it was pretty sad whenever I saw her just staying home to cook dinner and wash our clothes. I'm praying VERY hard my bosses don't discover this blog post because...it really doesn't sound like a viable reason to take the day off at this point of time.

It's my very first time in Singapore and it's been 30 years since my mum last visited so it's needless to say that we were really excited about the trip as a whole. I gave my cousin Sam a heads up that we needed to bunk with her over the weekends and she was happy enough to have us over so here's a call out to my awesome cousin Sam who had us wreck havoc in her room for 2 nights! We had taken the bus (Of which the experience will be in another post so...hang on for that!) that would stop at Novena Square and luckily for mum and I, Ivan was in Singapore at that point of time. Just to clarify in case anyone gets as confused as my cousin, Ivan isn't my long distance relationship boyfriend or anything. No, he's Chef's best friend since...well I have no idea. They're pretty ancient.

My brother has the most amazing best friend, period.

Seriously, Ivan is God sent. Or rather...Chef sent. We were blessed to have him bring us around for 2 days and the worst part was that those were his off days! Our first stop with Ivan was Vivo City, the place we've agreed to meet up with cousin Sam and if it weren't for Ivan, we would have had tons of difficulties trying to look for the right MRT line to take. Plus he dragged our luggage all around, insisting that we just follow him and let him do the hard parts to the trip and I'm really, really touched.

The first thing we had in Singapore was "yin yang" in Toastbox and I would never forget how Ivan was scolded by the aunty for ordering "cham" instead of "yin yang". For those who don't know, "cham" is a drink whereby you mix coffee and tea in the Chinese culture but in Singapore, it's called "yin yang". Foregoing the fact that the conversion rate is high, things in Singapore is remarkably cheap. If you're earning Singapore Dollars that is. Our "yin yang" that would normally cost RM 1.90 or RM 2.10 in Malaysia only costed SGD 1! Madness. Then we had dinner with cousin Sam at a Hong Kong styled restaurant and walked around the Giant supermarket they had there and it's so different from the ones we have here. It isn't smelly, it isn't dirty and everything is remarkably cheaper. Point in case is that Nutella is only SGD 5.95 there for the same size of what we pay RM 12.99 for back here.

Our day 2 (Or 1, whichever you'd consider it as) in Singapore kick started around 9.30 AM and we again met up with Ivan because he agreed to bring us around. This is a cue for Chef to seriously love your best friend more because he is amazing, okay? He took us down to ION Orchard, a mall by Orchard Road and spent about SGD 53 for a meal at Itacho Sushi for 3. Again, I shall say all this at a dollar-to-dollar rate: that is ridiculously cheap. I would akin it to places like Rakuzen and half the time when we eat at Rakuzen, Chef would fork out close to RM 200 or more but this time around, Ivan paid only SGD 53...and a few cents.

Mango lobster roll, sakura cheese roll and salmon with tuna...I think?

Deep fried soft shelled crab and salmon belly sushi with butter, Japanese mayonnaise and onions.

That really isn't all that we've had but I didn't take pictures of everything else so you'll have to just imagine our cha soba and rice with chicken. Mind you, the salmon belly sushi only costed SGD 90 cents a piece because it was being sold at a promotional rate and it's the most fantastic salmon belly sushi I've had to date. God help me if I try something like that in Japan when I get the chance to go there. And just to note, the mango lobster was also really good with the sweet and fragrant mango wrapping around the savoury sushi rice and fillings inside. Talk about taste bud dances that you could feel on your tongue!

Another picture with Ivan before he left to prepare for his Perth flight.

I figure I didn't mention that Ivan is an flight steward, huh? Well then, meet Ivan the flight steward! He was so sweet, coming over to accompany mum and I even when he had a midnight flight to Perth, Australia! Thank you so much for every single thing, Ivan! I hope you'll read this but if you don't, I hope you've at least seen my Instagram post!

After splitting up, mum and I decided not to linger along Orchard Road because it really was just an entire row of malls and nothing but so we took the MRT to Chinatown where we thought some good action would be. 

The first building we saw.

Singapore truly preserves on heritage buildings like these because not only did they not demolish them, they've kept them so well and had fresh coats of paint on them. *Coughs* Malaysia? *Coughs* Unfortunately, Chinatown was exactly like the Petaling Street we all know and it didn't quite appeal to us at all. My aunt Sylvia did say that we didn't explore the entire Chinatown from the sounds of our description but that's okay to us.

Just showing off this artsy fartsy shot that mummy took of me...or my hair!

And this one too, because it says Chinatown! Abruptly photobombed by the uncle behind.

The only interesting thing about Chinatown we spotted was how a whole lot of old men were in a little rest area, huddled together and playing Chinese chess; completely oblivious to the world. Is this the lifestyle of retired men in Singapore? Don't get me wrong when I say this but I think it's a really cute idea to have all these uncles come together and ramble on and on about Chinese chess.

Look at this!

And this was all these uncles were doing. Thinking.

I couldn't help it, I thought it was the most interesting thing to watch for a while. Seriously, how could you not think it is adorable that a whole bunch of uncles are huddled together for the love of a game? Plus it would ensure they wouldn't get Alzheimers because they'd be working their brain cells a lot! Mum and I left to Bugis Street shortly after because I recalled how much QiuQiu raved on the prices of the clothes there and if QiuQiu was there, you should know that clothes are remarkably cheap at that area.

Adding trips to our MRT ticket.

And we were headed towards the downtown line.

The thing about MRTs in Singapore is the vast similarity it had to the ones in Hong Kong so it was a breeze to travel around even without someone who knew the area well. If you're not sure of the way to go or which stop to get off at, there's an information counter with extremely helpful people in the booth to help you out. The staff even brought out the entire Singapore road map when mummy and I asked for directions to walk back to cousin Sam's when we were done with Bugis Street. The tickets issued are also reusable of up to 6 trips so you don't keep throwing away tickets and be forced to buy a new one every time you want to hop onto an MRT to get somewhere.

Bugis Street! This is the most amazing place to be if you're earning Singapore Dollars!

I swear to you, Bugis Street is THE place to be if you're in Singapore and you're on a hunt for cheap clothes. It's almost like I was shopping in Hatyai except the conversion rate is by RM 2.60 for every dollar I spend. That does heighten the prices of clothes but if you live in Singapore and you're earning in local bucks, you'll go crazy. Dresses and every kinds of clothes for all genders of all ages from SGD 2 till SGD 30 and more...seriously?!

That's my default, non-glamourous travel face by the way.

Just to justify on my expression above, mum and I were on the lookout for one of the streets that we've seen QiuQiu shop at during one of the Budget Barbie episodes and it turned out (AFTER I've come home) that it was actually at Haji Lane...about a street or two away from Bugis Street. I guess I don't make a very good traveler. Walking around did bring us some big surprises such as:

This. Oh my God.

If you didn't already know, I love mint chocolate chip ice cream. Baskin Robbins' Mint Chocolate Chip is my absolute favourite but I've found something else to fall in love with. A huge chunk of peppermint ice cream sandwiched between 2 pieces of crispy wafers. And all this for how much?

SGD 1. *Flails arms excitedly*

I am not kidding, that huge chunk of ice cream you see me holding is only SGD 1 and they come in all these variants for everyone to choose from! If I was not afraid of being fat, I would have had them all! And the peppermint ice cream isn't something "el cheapo" either. I believe it's from Magnolia and I will hunt it down from now onwards because of how strong the mint taste is. Every single bite is just mint, chocolate chips and more mint! MINT, I TELL YOU! MINT!

A colourful look at the shops by Bugis Village.

A closer look, maybe?

Don't be confused, Bugis Village is really still in the Bugis area. In fact, I only found out much later that the entire place is called Bugis Village while Bugis Street is somewhat just a street with tons of shops set up. So much geographical understanding to Singapore is needed at this point of time, isn't it? Let's just go on with the simple stuff like...

Fresh fruit juices from SGD 1.

I am not telling a lie.

You're seeing that right. This stall is smack at the beginning of Bugis Street if you're coming from the Bugis Junction and it's constantly packed. It's understandable why though because most of the drinks are SGD 1 while variants like Australian Avocado juice is only SGD 2. What is this sorcery in cheap and fresh fruit juices? But really that's not all that mummy and I had.

Gnom nom nom...

You see those things stacked up behind me? Those are toasted buns and they have different types of fillings inside. The lady who sold us our piece was really nice, offering us an extra plastic so mummy and I could tear the bun in half to share but we wanted to be environmentally friendly and shared the bun by eating it off one plastic only. But they're so considerate, putting all these to simple thoughts!

Pork and cabbage toasted bun for only SGD 2. And it's huge.

Australian Sugar Plum juice for only SGD 1!

Our SGD 3 meal, shared between two.

Yes, fruit juices and toasted buns became our dinner for the day. Of course, we didn't just have one bun and a drink. No, we had TWO buns and TWO drinks because it was just that affordable in our minds. Can you imagine if you earned Singapore Dollars and that's all you had to pay for a good meal like this? I can! And I wouldn't be fat either because then I'd be walking a lot from the MRT instead of driving around like I do in Malaysia. It is extremely convenient, I swear to you.

While the cost of living in Singapore is fairly low, (Hello, fruit juices for SGD 1 and dresses for SGD 10, what more do you want?) cousin Sam and Ivan reminded us that rental rates are mad. For an area like cousin Sam's, she is paying close to SGD 1,000 plus utilities and that's just for a room. It's fair to say she lives pretty close to the city area where all the trades and stuff happens but Ivan pays about SGD 600 to live near the airport; a far stretch away from where all the good things are.

I'm finding generally no complains about how well planned the country is with the public transportation but if there's one thing that is weird about Singapore, it is the lack of WiFi. I kid you not, it is like striking gold if you manage to grab WiFi off a place because even McDonald's in Singapore doesn't provide you WiFi. Mummy and I were lucky enough to leech off Coffee Bean Tea Leaf inside of Bugis+ to let cousin Sam know we weren't going to be home for dinner but that was also by a long shot with constant disconnections and a lot of prayers for it to work. 

The second thing that I can't quite brain about Singapore is the lack of rubbish bins yet they have such clean streets. What sorcery is this? Mummy and I had this doggy bag from our second toasted bun and a cup from our second drink thinking we could throw them away at the MRT station on the way back to cousin Sam's place. Clearly we were wrong because we couldn't find a single rubbish bin all the way till Outram park where we walked along Cantontment Road. Someone please unravel this mystery to me. How is it that Singapore has absolutely no rubbish bins but they can remain so clean while back here...well we all know the story.

[EDIT] The one last thing about Singapore that I am utterly amazed about is the safety. Seriously, it feels so safe in Singapore that coming back home is a shame. Take for example our tea time with Ivan at Toastbox, Vivo City. He has come to develop this habit of leaving his iPhone on the table then walking away because he is 101% sure that no one will walk away with it except him. It's the culture in Singapore that creates for such safety. On our last day when mummy and I were dragging our luggage around, cousin Sam who brought us to the nearby hawker center told us it was fine if we just leave the luggage at the table and we ALL go ahead and order our food. No one will take it away at all. In fact in Singapore, if you simply leave a pack of tissue on table at a hawker center, that table is immediately yours. If you were to do that back here, people will simply say, "Hey free tissue at the empty table! Take!" and that's the end of your tissue...and empty table. Seriously, Singapore. Why are you guys so courteous?

Unfortunately, we left on Sunday which left us with really limited exploration time and when I got back to Malaysia, the first thing that differed was the culture as a whole. The immigration staff is really just obviously more grumpy and people jump queues at public toilets. Welcome home, I suppose. I definitely would want to go to Singapore again and this time, I'll be sure to go to Haji Lane because it looks really interesting from the sights of QiuQiu's video. Till that point of time, I shall just live with annoyed officials and rude people while driving on the road...because our public transportation services are hopeless.

And I promise you that the next blog post won't be 11 days later. Till then, it's work time!

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