Review | Going about Singapore

My birthday came and left late last month and Mr Grumpy had given me a list of options for my birthday. I know right? He is super romantic hahaha gone are the days of birthday flowers but I love how he knows me so well and through his practicality, I know how much he loves me.

Anyway in that list of options was the offer of a husband-sponsored solo holiday and given the long Merdeka weekend, it was very much a spontaneous “Hey let’s check tickets and room rates” and ta-da! My Singapore trip was happening.

Though I have spent most of my life in KL, I was born and “exported” from Singapore. My motherland is where my cousins are, the people I have grown up with through awkward phases of puberty and childish fights to the adults we have become.

The last time I went back was 3 years ago, before AK was in the picture. I would usually make the annual trip back south to see my college mates and cousins, and basically just chill. Singapore is amazing for a holiday but given Malaysia’s depressing currency, I do not stay there beyond a few nights.

Flight tickets were INSANEEEE given the peak time of travel, like about RM700 for return. If you have been to Singapore, you may find the hotels there are also pricey but given that I would hardly be in the room (aside from to snooze and snore), Mr Grumpy helped me find a cheaper option.

I took the Aeroline bus. It is a double-decker bus and though I have recommended it to others, I had never tried its service before. The departure point was at Corus Hotel, Jalan Ampang (though there are others at One Utama and Sunway). The bus left on time and not once did I worry about the bus possibly breaking down at the side of the road. For return tickets, it cost about RM195 and the time of travel was not all that different from if I had taken a flight. I suppose they are living up to their mantra: Aeroline is the convenient way to fly!

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They provided headphones, blankets, a meal and also hot drinks. I was pretty satisfied with the movie selection, there were also TED talks! The seats were comfortable, the staff were attentive and the only delay to the journey was when we reached Singapore customs. Simply because so many other people wanted to go there too! I’m glad they went through the Tuas checkpoint instead of Causeway because I heard it was even crazier at Causeway. The bus left at about 8 am and I was at the hostel at about 3pm (though I did get lost walking all over Bugis first!)

Side note: The customs officials tried opening up new queues so that the lines would move faster. Some people who had just come into the building tried to “jump queue” but the official was having none of that. Keep in mind that if you try and they see, they will send you riiiiiight to the back, which is probably worse than where you started. Have patience, my friend. Stick to the queue!

It’s the same with the traffic police, they would not give a crap if you have to make a U-turn or whatnot, stick to the queue!

The bus stopped at Harbourfront which was convenient because I could then take the MRT straight to the area of the hostel. As a tourist, you can buy the standard tickets from the MRT machines, but I would suggest that if you are there for a few days and might take the buses too, get an EZ-link card from the MRT ticketing office. It would be cheaper overall plus you don’t have to keep queuing every time you want to go for a ride.

The hostel was located near Bugis MRT and Arab street, which also made it easier for me to get around Singapore. The MRTs tend to become a bit like sardine cans during peak hours but at least the trains come frequently so no need to worry too much if you have missed one.

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I stayed at  5footwayinn and I know right? Some people tend to cringe when they hear the word hostel, I am guilty of having done the same. God forbid I have to share a bathroom and possibly a room. I would use the shared bathroom, but had a room of my own. In total, only RM300 was spent for two nights there, which is actually a pretty good deal! It is even cheaper if you opt to share a room.

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The hostel provides basic (but free) breakfast of bread and cereal and in terms of hygiene, I really had no issues using the shared bathroom. For one, there are a few of them and the ladies’ section is separated from the common unisex ones AND more importantly, there were cleaners at least about twice a day making sure all was well. So, I didn’t have any “surprises” of people forgetting to flush or icky shower areas. Towels are provided and you can ask for extra pillows for $2 per pillow.

The receptionists are friendly younglings and I was actually pretty surprised that the guests were pretty diverse. You have young and old ones, Asians and Europeans and during breakfast, you would see some getting to know each other as they compared their experiences. The hostel had free wi-fi, which was also good and fast and you get a free tourist sim card as a hostel guest with some data in it.

It proved to be so convenient though an issue I had was where the value in the SIM card did not show up after I topped up twice. It wasn’t such a loss though because it happened towards the end of the trip, but if it happens to you here’s a tip: You often have to top up at a 7-Eleven or mini mart so when you are topping up, wait there and see if the value does increase and you can make calls and send Whatsapps before you leave.

Although I travelled solo, I never felt unsafe in Singapore. I mean in Malaysia, I would worry about catcalls or possible snatch thefts but there, I just felt free. People go about their business and you may see some grumpy ones. They are just working hard, not hating on you hahaha they tend to be helpful though if you need help with directions and whatnot. I didn’t have to clutch my bag close to me as though it was an oxygen tank or feel nervous every time a motorcyclist came close.

It was so awesome seeing my cousins and friends again. The following are some food pictures and where I ate (because y’know, food is VERY important for us Asians):

The first place I went to was Prive at Chijmes and gosh, it is really beautiful at night.

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Chijmes used to be a convent school and now there are a few restaurants and bars. Really beautiful place to chill at with good weather and friends.

The next day, I went to Paragon to meet a childhood friend and we went to Akashi Japanese Resto, Paragon.

Meet Mandy, a friend I have known since kindergarten! I had a craving for beef and she assured me this place was good. We asked for medium/medium well and though it came as nearly well done at first, the waitresses got meat cooked again and IT. WAS. SOOOO. GOOD! The sushi was also pretty good, so maybe you would want to consider this place.

We went to Takashimaya Shopping Centre (like in the good old days hahaha) and if you go towards the lower ground level, you will see many stalls selling a big variety of food, from sweet to savory, from cheap to premium. I love going there because they have something new every few years.

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Also took my time browsing at Kinokuniya for the books that aren’t brought in to Malaysia hahaha! It has really changed from the last time I’ve been, pretty huge!

My cousins also took me to Changi Village for some cheap eats and because I wanted to try oyster omelette. It’s pretty cool to see the airplanes so close up as they land at Changi Airport and there are many options to choose from at the hawker centre.

Although it was crowded given the holidays, the food was really good. For the omelette, the oysters were ever luscious (instead of all shriveled up) and the noodles were pretty good.

Thinking about it again is making me drool!

We also had chicken wings and other food. An older man who was with his wife looked over to us and said “You guys can really eat!” Yes, we can! No doubt it is more expensive than Malaysia but I like that the seafood was fresh and had bite to them. I would definitely want to go back there again next time.

The next morning, my other cousins brought me to Tiong Bahru bakery. It’s a French bakery and you can tell that it probably is doing well considering there were a lot of French expats there! They have a variety of tasty pastries though the coffee was not so great. In Malaysia, the hipster brunch place scene is pretty happening right now so was interesting to try such a place in Singapore.

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It opens earlier than some of the other brunch/breakfast places and there were customers who come in to buy the specific breads they wanted. It’s a good sign they have a lot of regulars!

When I go to Singapore, a MUST HAVE for me is the SLICED FISH NOODLES. It is made of a simple broth, vegetables, fish slices and you can have it with evaporated milk. It sounds so simple, but you would be amazed at how many people can get it wrong. In Malaysia, it’s also a bit hard to find good ones. The last really good one I had was at Fatt Kee, in SABAH! The Chinese also like to have it with rice wine and in general, you can choose fried fish slices instead. I used to go to one in KL but now am looking for THAT go-to place for my fish noodles fix.

At Harbourfront, I tried the one at Bagus food court with my cousins and OH, I was really happy. I love it when you get that feeling of total satisfaction, total contentment from a good meal. It’s like you have done yourself some justice instead of just mindless gobbling, as though you have somehow worked hard for that sort of gratification hahaha

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I’m going to try making this at home one day again. Maybe this weekend! I’m actually not surprised that I got a bit sunburnt and fatter after the food and adventures galore there! I am also so thankful for my friends and cousins’ hospitality, taking me to the different places that I would probably not have discovered myself.

This post was specifically about the travel arrangements, food and places but I shall write a post about “the emotional side” and how I felt before going and after coming back from Singapore sometime in the future. I hope the information is helpful though should you ever decide to go to Singapore!

Though I was happy to be back with Mr Grumpy and AK, Singapore will always have a place in my heart for some reason or other. I don’t think I would ever stop going back, even if it ends up just being once a year or two years.

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