Sep 1, 2012

Singapore Is Not All About Orchard Road

July, 2012

Finally, a little time to steal for updating this blog :D
Now did you think I hated Orchard Road so much? Not at all. We actually had a quick visit there to buy some books and things my sister wanted me to get. But what I want to write now is about our activities other than that and the Andy Warhol exhibition which I've written in the previous post. So here we go!


We heard that Changi airport provides many free things for travelers, not only for the ones transitting between flights. So we decided to take the last flight on Friday night, spend the first night at Changi airport to save some accommodation budget plus we wanted to try the freebies! Yaayy, who doesn’t like freebies?

We found an area full of single chairs/sofa and that’s where we slept cos the huge room looked comfy enough. Later in the morning we found out there’s another area in the Terminal 3 that’s much cozier for sleeping! They’ve got these curvy lazy chairs on which you can sort of lay down. Oh well, maybe for next time :P

Computers with free Internet are provided in several spots, you can look them up on Information boards. Each usage is limited to about 15 minutes then you’re logged out automatically, but then you can log in again and again. Make sure there’s no one waiting to use the computer before you re-log in. Wi-fi was available only if you’re using a local number. Buying a local number is just one of my least favorite things to do when traveling. So just like usual, I’d live my online life the whole weekend relying on free connection only..hehehee..

We looked for the free movies that we read in a website somewhere. We found the signage on the Information board and followed the direction. And guess what. The free movies (and the free shower) were in a lounge, which you’d have to be a member to get in, and it wasn’t for free. Hm. Moving on to the next freebies!

The Butterfly Garden (if that’s what they call it) was near the lounge and the sleeping chairs in Terminal …. Diyan enjoyed it more than I did cos he’s more interested in the scientific data provided and I’m not really fond of looking at plants :P


After a (big) bite of Subway sandwich, we decided to hit the town. We took the MRT and headed to The Green Kiwi Backpacker Hostel on Lavender street.

No no this isn't Green Kiwi, it's just the neighborhood around Green Kiwi :D

We hopped off at the Lavender MRT station, not knowing that it would require less walking if we get off at Boon Keng. It rained so we bought those cheap easy-to-torn raincoats at the nearest convenience store. It was SGD 1.50 each, or something like that. The slow walk from Lavender MRT station took about 30 minutes. Lavender MRT station may be further to the Green Kiwi than Boon Keng, but it requires less hassle of changing MRT lines from Changi.

Our beds were still being prepared, but the staff was really nice and friendly. We waited only about 15 minutes at the lobby/common room, sipping a glass of cold water as the welcome drink.

above: common room.
below right: Diyan reading notes from guests. below left: reception & breakfast on a plate

We had booked 2 beds in the mixed dorm with 8 beds in it, at the weekend price of UGD 20 /bed. There’s no lamp for the whole room, only reading lights and electricity outlets for each bed. The room was clean, other guests’ bags were scattered and hung at the beds, a typical hostel dorm situation. But guess what. This was actually my first time sleepind in a hostel dorm mixed with other guests. I have been in a hostel dorm before but I was always occupying the whole room with my travel mates. It was 6 of us in last year Singapore trip, and 5 of us in the Thailand trip earlier this year (uhm, I haven’t had time to write the story).

Occupying the whole dorm room with your own travel mates means you can leave the room locked with your stuff scattered as you’d like. Nobody else could come in and you don’t have to worry about your stuff being stolen. The whole room is your locker. But on this trip, we decided to rent a small locker at the lobby to keep our valuable stuff (photocopies of passport, cash and iPad, chargers) and we left our clothes, bath amenities etc in our backpacks beside my bed. A small locker rental is SGD 1 / day, the big locker that fits a big backpack is SGD 2 / day.

The shared bathrooms and toilets were kept clean. 4 showers with hot water, 3 toilets, 3 wash basins, a washing machine and a towel drying rack. The bathroom is at the very end of the hallway, and there’s a door that goes out to the rooftop and back door.

The rooftop is where hostel guests like to hangout over a beer or two until past midnight. I didn’t have a chance to hangout there cos we always got back at the hostel almost midnight and I was beat. I just went there on Sunday morning to check out what it was like, and of course nobody was there, most of the guests were probably still asleep.


It was Diyan’s first time in Singapore, so we took our time when heading to the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) for the exhibition. We went through the Esplanade building, took a look around inside it, took pictures of the activities and just sat cos our legs were tired! You can see the MBS boat on buildings from the riverside of Esplanade. It drizzled on and off so the day was a bit cloudy.

Singapore National Day slogan in front of Esplanade

Coincidentally, it was the rehearsal for Singapore National Day. A few streets and sidewalks were blocked for participants to get through and there were so many school kids in uniforms (including the backpacks!) walking to the stadium near Esplanade. It was nice to see so many citizens participating in the National Day, old and young, and very well organized! That one last thing is what we lack in Indonesia :P

School kids at the Esplanade area 
School kids - under the Helix Bridge - as a part of the National Day Parade

We walked across the Helix bridge, which I thought was sophisticatedly designed, to the MBS. I was so eager to walk through this bridge after seeing a pictures of it on the net being lit like a huge neon DNA strain, so awesome! We waited until night fell but the bridge stayed unlit :(

Helix Bridge. Awe to the some!

Helix Bridge. Sophisticated.

But hey, it was a nice wait. Sitting in front of the Science Museum – after seeing the exhibition – was one of the loveliest experiences I’ve had in Singapore. I mean, I wish I could do that more often. I can’t help comparing Singapore with my Jakarta where I live. We so lack of nice unpolluted open-aired public area :(

Anyhoo, music was blaring from the stage in the open stadium near Esplanade. We couldn’t see who was performing cos we were facing the backstage, not that we’d know who those local artists were anyway. But then a really loud noise roared in the sky, I was scared for a second! Turns out, it was a..wait, two jet fighters maneuvering above us! woohoo!! And then Navy boats swooshed in the river and the excitement added. More roaring maneuvers by the jet fighters and more tricks by the Navy seals. I’ve never seen an air show or anything like that, so that was AWE to the SOME to the DUDE!! AWESOME, DUDE!! Hahaha..


We went for a quick stop for some chocolates at Mustafa Center, Little India. Whoa!! I have never seen so many people all at once gather in Singapore! Not even at Linkin Park concert I saw a few years ago! Turns out, there was a Food Festival held in Little India. But we didn’t see no food! Only people, mostly men in shirts (why do Indian men like to wear formal shirts so much?). Aaw shucks, we must’ve missed it! Hm, I can only imagine the taste and aroma of those curry mutton.. hmmm!

Less than an hour later we went on to Chinatown. Yayy! Chinatown, as usual, is interesting with their knickknacks, street food and typical colorful shop homes. I bet the shop homes would look even cuter in daytime.

Step out of the station, and voila! shops!!!

I’ve always liked wandering and sight seeing in Chinatowns, too bad we got there almost 9.30 pm, so we only got about an hour to wander around. We purchased some stuff for ourselves and a few friends back home. There were some restaurants and bars open and quite packed with visitors, while the souvenir stalls were closing one by one approaching 10 pm.

We were a bit hungry but we couldn’t afford waiting for restaurant food, so we grabbed a quick bite at McDonald’s just around the corner, about 20 meters from the Chinatown MRT Gate A. I was hoping for a corn pie like what we had in Thailand, but they’ve only got apple pie. We settled for apple pies. It’s yummy, but still I long for the McDonald’s corn pie!

The reason why we couldn’t stay longer in Chinatown is because we needed to catch the MRT back to Boon Keng (didn’t wanna spend more for a cab) and then we had to pack our bags before sleep cos we’ve got an 8 a.m flight to catch. Entering the dorm room, the person next to my bed was reading in his bed without a shirt on, ready to fall asleep. A girl was already asleep in another bed, so Diyan and I had to tiptoe to our beds and pack our bags really quietly cos we didn’t wanna wake her up. Boy, was it hard to pack quietly and in the dark! And just when we were almost done packing, 2 guys came in and started to pack their bags just like that, ignoring the fact that someone else is asleep!

The next day, thank God we woke up early enough. We took the wrong turn when walking to the Lavender station so that’s 10 minutes wasted away, and then we got in the wrong terminal at Changi..! hahaha… we had to run around so as not to check in late. Phew! What a healthy morning, full of walking and running!

Somebody is excited about an upcoming concert in Fort Canning Park! Teehee..

Well maintained area near Fort Canning Park

Dhoby Ghaut Green Amphitheater that holds various creative public events each weekend.
Lucky Singaporeans!

I once thought Singapore was only good for shopping, its museums, plays and concerts. Boy, was I wrong. It may not be blessed with scattered awesome natural landscapes and underwater scenery, perhaps partly due to the smallness of the area, but it has many other (man-made) things to offer. The public parks, the minimum pollution, the well-maintained heritage buildings and area, etc. The country is small, yet packed with well-organized things and places. I am going back there again for some more exploration around the island!

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