At the end of 2016 I took a trip back home to Jakarta. During this trip I also took two days to visit a neighbour country, Singapore.
Singapore is a rather small (in size) country in South East Asia but is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It’s a clean country where you don’t litter and is served by an integrated public transportation system (with MRT, LRT, and busses).
Since it was close to christmas the plane ticket was already more expensive than usual. I know I should not do this very short trip by plane – lot of carbon emissions for not much – but I had been wanting to do this trip with my family (Although after several negotiations I was just able to take my little brother with me).
Our flight was scheduled on the monday before christmas around noon. It was less than two hours flight. The airport in Jakarta was packed with muslims who were about to go on a pilgrimage. It’s the same situation with my Dubai to Jakarta flight. I just learnt that end of the year is the preferred season to do this journey because the temperature is lower in the middle east region.
I observed several airport improvements while waiting: free wi-fi, more shops, and some AC. It’s still unfortunately not comparable with Changi airport in Singapore. Upon arrival we bought two-days Singapore tourist pass that cost 26SGD (16 + 10 dollars deposit). 1 SGD was around 0.70 USD at that time. It’s expensive. The pass can be bought in the locket in terminal 2 just beside the MRT station to the city center.
The MRT system has five lines all around the country. We took the East-West line to go from the airport to the center. Since we only had two days we spent most of our time around the center.
We first stopped at Bugis. Bugis is known as a cheap street market place. From the MRT you walked out directly to the Bugis Junction, one of millions shopping malls in Singapore, packed with people. You need to go out off the mall and go to the Bugis street to actually find the street market. In every market place in Singapore, be it a shopping mall or a street market, you will find heaps of eating place. We ate the famous chicken rice in Bugis street. I didn’t find it exceptional but it’s okay. I think we paid less than 10SGD for two portions of our rice. Michael ate chicken rice and I ate pork ribs rice.
From Bugis we walked to Kampong Glam area which is the Malay culture/heritage area. It’s also the home of the Sultan mosque in the Arab street. The Malay cultural center was unfortunately close during our visit. The area was packed with mix of Indian-Malay-Arab cuisines. It’s also famous for their typical houses and narrow streets as people come to take pictures there.
We then took the MRT to go to Raffles Place. The ambience was completely different then Bugis. If in Bugis you would find more of Chinesse or Malay environment, in Raffles Place you would find more Western atmosphere. It was the office and bank area where more than half (of course the statistics is based only on my observation) young executives walking down the street were western. Some local people were observed and tried to mix in but you can just feel the segregation between.
We stopped in this station to go to Merlion Park. Merlion is a lion statue that is the symbol of Singapore. You can also find merlions in other area in Singapore. From Merlion Park we got the view towards the rather recent Marina Bay, the science museum, and the gardens by the bay.
Being at the open air, The buildings in Singapore offered a rather splendid architectural and civil constructions. The shape of the buildings were exciting. New constructions are found everywhere while the country expands their land. The country also tried to balance the building growth with the green area.
From here we took again the MRT to Clarke Quay area where our hotel was. Clarke Quay is located in the Singapore river side. It can be seen as the upper class area with numerous luxe eating and drinking place along the river. We were lucky that we found a reasonable hotel around this area (Another cheaper option was around Gellang red district area but I kinda avoid it for this trip).
Walking down to our hotel we saw a lot of people – mostly westerner – running. They have some pedestrian zone but strangely the cyclist passing through the zone were rather rude. I definitely confused whether I was wrong to walk on this pedestrian zone or they were just rude. Another rude people were those who were on their electric scooter.
The hotel was okay. I just didn’t get the staff. Was it my english, was it their english? They told me that they upgraded my room but it turned out that they didn’t. They spoke super fast with very strong Singlish accent and they just shut you down when you asked more info. And I couldn’t even pay with big money bills.
Anyway, we rested a bit before heading for dinner. For dinner we decided to go to Chinatown area. Definitely a lot of people. We walked to Maxwell hawker food center, following Michael’s friend recommendation. There I got myself a laksa – noodle in curry broth – and Michael got himself a prawn noodle. Our food was around 6SGD each.
The next day we got breakfast in our hotel before heading to Sentosa island. So my actual aim for this trip was to go to Universal Studios Singapore (USS). Sentosa island is a peninsula at the south of Singapore where some attractions such as USS, the trick eye museum, the SEA aquarium, and the casino were located.
To go there we took the MRT up to harbour front where you ended up in another shopping mall called Vivocity. From vivocity you could take the cable car to Sentosa or just walk there. I insisted on walking. It was not long and they also put a walking escalators and shades. We bought our ticket to USS (about 76SGD per person).
Maybe because it was school holidays but man there were a lot of people. To be honest the USS was rather small than I expected. It had a circular map with 7 different themes. We started with Hollywood -basically nothing but stores – then continued counter-clockwise. We queued on the Sesame street spaghetti space chase. It didn’t look like a long queue but they kinda cheated because when you got in they actually had another long queue inside. So we kinda trapped inside and waited for at least 45mins to get on the ride.
We then continued to the Sci-Fi City where we queued again for the “HUMAN” roller coaster. I got annoyed here because I think USS cheats big time on their consuments. First they told you to put your stuff in a free locker just beside the ride. The locker was free as long as you don’t pass the one hour time limit. When we entered the ride it said 30minutes waiting time outside. So we queued. As the time went on, rich people with express pass cut off the line and since they had “advantage” of paying more money they got into the ride faster. So when we were inside the waiting time was apparently climbed up to more than 60minutes. We stuck in the middle of the queue and could do nothing. By the time we finished the ride we were 4minutes passed one hour. And when we were back, the locker was locked and we had to pay 4SGD for the locker. That was just insane.
So after the ride I kinda lost my mood for another busy ride. We passed the Ancient Egypt and the Lost World rather quickly before landed on the Far Far Away. Far Far Away was based on Shrek story. We got into the Donkey LIVE show – that was not live if you wonder – and the Shrek 4D show. Then we ended the USS journey in Madagascar where we got into their crate adventure and I took on the merry-go-round.
All in all I think the USS was rather expensive for not too many things. I liked it but I didn’t like it. The express pass was frustrating. The free locker was not free. The roller coaster was okay. I would prefer to pay my Paris Disneyland ticket that costs more or less the same.
After spending the day there we headed back to vivocity to eat. We went directly to the food court. I got some lomien – another type of noodle – with green onion pancakes. The food was slightly more expensive than what we ate before and I didn’t like them as much as my previous food.
To end the trip we went to Marina Bay and walked around the gardens by the bay before went back to the airport and headed home to Jakarta. I did not go to Orchard road because I had been there before and it was not my cup of tea.
What I did like:
- Street foods everywhere
- Clarke Quay
- Building shapes
What I did not like:
- Rude people
- Shopping malls
- Shopping malls
- Shopping malls
- Fake greens/gardens
Information reference: http://www.yoursingapore.com/en.html