Monday, April 20, 2009

Singapore Trip '09 – Day 03: Hitting the Malls & Getting Back

Thanks to Air Asia retiming our return flight, we ended up with an extra 2 hours to spend in Singapore before our flight at 7:10pm. Having decided that we would want to try to avoid the evening rush on the MRT to get to Changi Airport, we decided that we would need to make sure that we would be at the MRT heading to the airport by or before 4pm. The plan would give us some time to hit the malls after we check out of the hotel while waiting for our flight. We also had the chance to spend a little more time with our Singaporean host who graciously offered to drive us around town.

Our first stop was at a hawker center opposite the Great World City Mall near the River Valley development area. I have always been fascinated by the hawker food culture and was looking forward to experience it for myself on this trip. Since we arrived quite early, we decided to walk across the street to the mall to browse while the hawkers were setting up for the day. We ended up browsing for books at the Harris Bookstore in the mall which had a book sale on the day that we were there. We didn’t really find anything that caught our attention there but we did end up buying some CDs instead at the That CD Shop store which had a really good selection of CDs.

After our short shopping excursion, we returned to the hawker center where the lunch crowd was just getting started. I had a taste of the local version of the Singapore Rojak that was recommended to me by my parents when I told them I was going there. I have to say that it was quite good especially with the dried squid that they added to the dish. It was also my first time tasting the strange looking century egg which was totally different from the salted duck eggs that I’m more used to. The jelly-like texture of the century egg definitely took a bit to get used to but it was not as salty as I expected it to be.

After my culinary adventure of the day, we proceeded to the Borders bookstore at Wheelock Place near Orchard Road. Having whetted our appetites for books at Harris, we decided to just focus on book shopping for the rest of the day. The Borders at Wheelock was quite big with the expected range of book selections for the bookstore chain. Prices were fairly equivalent to what I could expect to find in KL so I didn’t end up buying much since I already have quite a few books in my to read pile at home. We took a break from book browsing and had some refreshment at the nearby N.Y.D.C Café and Restaurant. It was hard not to be tempted by their line of sinfully delicious chocolate drinks and desserts so we ended up ordering some of them to have there while we rested.

Since my travelling companion was trying to track down a particular book to purchase while we were there, we proceeded to the Kinokuniya bookstore at the nearby Takashimaya Shopping Center in Orchard Road. It felt more crowded than the one that we have in KLCC but I had a great time browsing through their graphic novel section. There were more than a few items there that I would have loved to purchase but I decided to be responsible and defer them when I had more to spare. We didn’t stay long at the book store as they didn’t have the book that my travelling companion was looking for but they did direct us to their branch at Bugis Junction mall which could reserve a copy for us to come and pick up.

We left Orchard Road around 4pm and proceeded to Bugis Junction which was not far from where our hotel was. We thank and said goodbye to our gracious Singapore host there as it would be our last stop before taking the MRT to the airport. We soon made our way through the crowd at Bugis Junction and found the Kinokuniya bookstore fairly quickly as we wanted to make sure that we were at the station before the afternoon rush hour started. After getting the book from the bookstore, we proceeded to the Bugis MRT station to get on the MRT heading towards Tanah Merah station. From there, we had to switch trains and get on the one that serviced the extension line between Tanah Merah station and Changi Airport.

After checking in for our return flight, we went to have an early dinner at the Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits fast food chain at the terminal. We choose it since we both can’t remember is we ever seen the chain in Malaysia and it was near where we checked in for our flight. Once we were done with our dinner, we proceeded to the gate where our plane would be taking off and was soon enough on board for the flight back. Other than a little turbulence on the way in thanks to the raining weather, the flight itself was uneventful. We touched down on time at LCCT and continued our journey on to KL Sentral by the Skybus service. We finally reached home at around 10pm after taking a cab from KL Sentral.

Singapore was not quite like what I expected prior to coming on this trip. Having not been able to spend a lot of time outside of the hotel or office in previous visits, I was pleasantly surprised by the architecture that have been restored and incorporated into the more modern surroundings. There was still a lot of charm to be found in the restored neighborhoods despite the proliferation of more modern buildings in Singapore’s skyline. I would definitely like to spend more time next time to walk around and seem more of what they have restored. Having the opportunity to make new friends on this trip was an added bonus and I look forward to see them again the next time we come into town. Fortunately for me, that would not be too long as we already made plans for a return visit in June for the Singapore Arts Festival.

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