Sunday, January 29, 2012

[SINGAPORE] Chinatown + Orchard + Clark Quay

No questions asked at NAIA immigration. They did not even ask for my company ID which sort of disappointed me because now I finally have one to show and then they do not ask for it. Like, what the hell is your glitch, Immigration people? Fast forward to the plane ride, I forgot that Singapore was actually far, like, over three hours kind of far. Aside from the occasional turbulence that felt like a teaser for Battlestar Galactica, one more thing bugged me: my right ear. During the first half of the trip my nose was blocked due to colds that would not come out. On the second half that ear would not stop buzzing and my eardrums were threatening me of a possible explosion. In my ears, not in the plane. I might look like one, but I am not a member of the Abu Sayyaf. I only regained my hearing on that side when I was already at one of the immigration counters of Changi’s budget terminal.

Singapore’s MRT system is cool but you won't get to enjoy it if you board one of Cebu Pacific’s zombie flights. Arriving at around 12 midnight and clearing immigration by 1 AM, the only option left was the free shuttle bus transfer from the Budget terminal to Terminal 2. From there you either take a taxi or the Woodlands bus service. I paid SGD 9 and there were only two of us aside from the driver, me and a German guy who became a de facto conversation partner. My conversational skills auf Deutsch remain bland but at least I found out that I could still understand what he was saying. Anyway, the bus service itself felt like a taxi ride because we were dropped off right in front of our ho(s)tels. It took an hour, though, and it was already 2 in the morning when I called it a night.

The Maxwell Food Centre is just around the corner and I so love Hawker food, anything Chinese, actually. I could eat fried rice until the day I die, and then I will wake up from the dead and eat fried rice again, until I die again, and then... It is a never ending process, although getting alternate servings of sweet mixed duck or mixed meat would also be awesome. I usually do not care about what I eat when I travel but in Singapore, eating suddenly became an enjoyable activity. I could not believe I am saying this. Thermometer, please! Do I have a fever?

After the meal it was time to explore Chinatown which was not really on my itinerary but I was already there, and I love walking anyway. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is just across the hawker food mart and is one of the popular tourist sites on that road, perhaps because of its size and decoration that screams, "Look, I'm a Chinese temple!" that is simply hard to ignore. Admission is free but I did not enter anymore. Instead, I walked down the road to snap a photo of the Sri Mariamman, a Hindu Temple just a stone’s throw away. And just when you thought it could not get more diverse than that, walk a few meters more and you will see a green mosque. We get it Singapore, diversity is the buzz word here, and it is cool to see how such a small country could be so.

Orchard was next in line. Yes, the road. We are not in Italy. This is probably the only area we got to explore when the family had to do a quick visa run back in 2005, which meant 12 hours on a frigid bus from Terangganu. Memories. Back to the present, I could still remember Orchard so well, Lucky Plaza and Ngee Ann City in particular where my first Kinokuniya experience took place. Of course the KL branch is the new Kinokuniya king for me now but still, nothing beats the first time. Instead of reliving the past and spending more time than I should, which bookstores love doing to me, I just opted for the irresistible chocolate ice cream wafer by the sidewalk alternative.

There are many things to see, and buy, at Orchard Road. You can spend a year’s worth of your savings here in ten minutes, and you would get tired of seeing too many Prada and Armani stores everywhere you look. How many branches do they need? Seriously. If you have the moolah and you love shopping so much, you would really enjoy this street. If not, then there is still one spectacle too many for you to feast your eyes on, like those performers with a wide range of talents, or the Abercrombie and Fitch’s models. Take your pick. No? Then better go somewhere else, like Clarke Quay.

Clarke Quay takes advantage of the Singapore River. Take advantage of what? Well, of everything. You can go on a river cruise which seems to be a popular choice among tourists. Central, the mall, is right by the MRT station and strategically facing the river, which means you can also shop. Again? But then if shopping is really not your thing, then you can just take a stroll along the river. If you are a big photography fan you'll also find a lot of good photo opportunities here from the various activities taking place all the way to the photogenic backdrop, of which they have quite a handful. When you reach the bridge you'll see what seems to be some European inspired architecture to the left, and then some very colorful structures to the right, most of which are bars and restaurants.

Once on the other side and your gastronomical needs have been fulfilled, you might want to consider riding one of two GMAX rides. Or both! This is heaven for anorexics. Satisfy your hunger, eat all you can! And then do the thrill rides and then throw up. On the attendant. That would be an unforgettable experience for you both. There should be at least two of you to ride the reverse bungy and the extreme swing or whatever it is called. I think I am inventing terms. SGD 49 for each ride but they had a promo when I was there, SGD 59 for both! If you want a video CD you have to shell out an extra SGD 15. I am still wondering why I did not do it. Perhaps maybe because it was near the river? No, I have no qualms about being tossed into the water, accidentally or intentionally. The thing is, rivers make me emo. Depression spoiled the day again, and saved me SGD 49. Mixed emotions.

2 creature(s) gave a damn:

Unknown said...

thanks for sharing!

followed you through GFC
pls visit mine, too!


ihcahieh said...

@CarmisCaprice - Thanks, followed you too!

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