Getting into Singapore took longer than expected. I figured I could go the 4.5 hours listed in the guidebook as the distance between Melaka and Singapore. I forgot to figure in travel time from my hotel in Melaka to the bus station, waiting time for the bus, then waiting time to get through the slow traffic over the bridge from Malaysia to Singapore (Singaporeans returning from shopping sprees in Malaysia? One man had his car filled to the brim with toilet paper!), and also queing in Singapore customs, and the long-ish journey through traffic to my hostel. After 9 hours without eating, with all the delicious food available in Singapore, my first meal was… McDonalds! Ugh.
My hostel, listed in the Lonely Planet as having “limited shower facilities” but also only 50m from the Bugis MRT, and key card access to the hostel, seemed like it would be alright… When I arrived, I saw a sign in reception that said, “No viewing of rooms”. The woman at reception was equally abrupt and unfriendly. Hmm… After paying for my room, I saw why. Sixteen beds jammed into one room. I estimated for about 40 beds in the entire hostel, there were two toilets, and two showers available! Not only that, the room was noisy well into the night, as it faced a busy road. Now all that I could deal with, but the individual rooms themselves didn’t have locks, and the tiny lockers available couldn’t hold much. Anyone from another room could just saunter into another room and pick through your things. Next morning I decided I’d check into another hostel.
Sunday morning, after changing hostels, I went to the Bugis Junction Mall for a bite to eat. In the basement was a food court, numerous stalls of mainly Japanese and Korean food, but also a few Chinese pastry shops! So much food, so little time! For breakfast I had “Otah” toast (dried fish spread), Korean satay chicken on a stick, and a giantantic fruit danish. Oh, if I lived in Singapore, I’d be fat! After breakfast, I was to meet up with my Singaporean friends that I met while travelling in Saigon last trip to go on a bike ride.
Darren met me at the Bugis MRT and we took a bus to the east side, where we were going to meet Lianghui and Joseph. It started raining, so we decided to wait out the rain in a hawker centre. To kill time, they ordered a huge assortment of delicious local food. I was still full from breakfast, so I stuffed myself some more, almost to the point of pain! (How are Singaporeans not overweight?) Now time for a bike ride!
Walked to Sentosa beach, and along the way, passed a salesman doing a demonstration/sales spiel to a small crowd… In Singlish! I laughed when I heard him speaking in Singlish, telling people about how good this liquid cleaner was, “Yao ‘furniture’, yao ‘mirror’, yao…” So many uses!
Sentosa beach is really pleasant, especially being just steps from the urban jungle. Locals were out barbequeing, jogging, rollerblading and strolling. Some people had set up tents to “camp” beside the beach.
Locals camping out beside Sentosa Beach
Rented bikes, and cycled a total of 16 km out and back to Changi beach. An eerie, quiet beach, where the Japanese landed in WWII, and slaughered 20,000 Chinese people. I don’t know if that was the reason the beach was so deserted in comparison to Sentosa beach.
It’s really nice having friends who are locals who can show you around, as it would never have occured to me to do a bike ride along the beach. And also nice to see how locals live. The ride itself was nice and easy, and chatting with my friends gave me some further insight into Singapore. After the bike ride, for dinner we went to another Hawker Centre, where we chowed down on yummy beef and mutton satay, duck “jook” (rice porridge), BBQ chicken wings, tofu, and beer. My Singaporean friends prefer Heinken over Tiger beer! Why is it that no one likes their local beer?
Photos from the bike ride
For my last day in Singapore, went for a makeover at a cosmetic counter. Then to check-in online… For some reason it wasn’t working! Panicking, I realized that probably since I didn’t get on the flight from Bangkok to Singapore, they probably cancelled me from the flight. Phoned Singapore Airlines in Singapore from a payphone. Automated system, went through the menu and entered “reservation”, “economy”. Get a recorded message saying all their agents are busy, please try again later – CLICK! What?! This time when I phoned back, I chose “reservation”, “first class”, and after a short hold, got through. The woman on the other line confirmed why I was cancelled, and then told me to phone my agent. “My agent is in Canada! They’re not open right now!” “Oh, right now in Vancouver it’s… (pauses, then realizes what I said is true) You do need to do it through your own agent because it’s not our booking.” “Can’t you do anything to help?” Reluctantly, she does try to get me back on the flight, with success! What a close call… Let it be known that if you miss a flight, let your booking agent know!
With that out of the way, went to Bugis Village, Singapore’s largest outdoor market, which sells all sorts of trendy things that appeal to young people (I’m still young, aren’t I?). In my last spare hour, blew through $100 fairly quickly, in the first three stores I visited! Bought some really cute things which I can’t wait to wear! No one needs to know I’m pushing 30 right? 🙂