Friday, January 21, 2011

Little Red Dot on the Map

Friday, January 21, 2011

After ages and ages my long awaited trip to Singapore finally happened! A lot of people (read: mom) have asked me, why Singapore?? Well the short answer is that it’s the nearest faraway place, nearest different country. Also, the last time I was there I didn’t get to do much at all, being only there for a day and a half. For the most part, I was busy with work so coordinating and planning the trip wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

Thursday night after work I rushed home and got my stuff together coz our train was at 11 pm from KL central. This was the first time I’d taken the KTM train somewhere far away, and I was super excited. Something about travelling by rail is very...romantic? No that’s not the word. Or maybe it is. Romanticism for the past maybe? Anyways, we all got top bunks, which were more cramped than the bottom ones but had more privacy. Me and Ilham were extra giddy and excited hehe. Ayesha, ever the seasoned traveller, was pretty chill. The bunk across from mine was inhabited by this guy who studied in NTU if I remember correctly. He was weird but nice I suppose. He kept asking the German couple below us random and utterly hilarious questions. The journey was okay, slept for the most part. I thought I would have trouble sleeping at first since the train wasn’t exactly smooth as silk or in any way quiet, but once I pulled up the blanket I fell asleep almost instantly. Old trick. OH! I mentioned how our train was at 11, well in reality it got delayed twice so we ended up boarding at around 11.45. That messed up our itinerary a bit. Arrived at the JB customs at around subuh and at woodlands at just before 8. The funny NTU guy lead us out of the gorgeous KTM station (soon to be torn down if the grapevine speaks true. It also smelled a bit too much of piss. But the architecture was stunning) walked for about 10 minutes through the streets of Singapore to the nearest MRT station, and then rode all the way out to Tampines where we were staying throughout our 4 day 3 night stay.
Rushed back out and made it to Chinatown by noon, where we met up with the lovely Hamimah. On the first day we ended up going to Chinatown, little India, orchard road (where we met up with Sarah, Ayesha’s cousin and whose room we were invading :P) and later at night Arab street/kampong glam for dinner where we met up with Amine, Sara’s sister with the super adorable hair and who has perfected the puss in boots wide eyed look haha!

On the first day I managed to make some field notes, very sparse ones mind you.
Finally got a move on at 11.45. Trying to go to sleep but it’s noisy + bumpy. Should bring earplugs next time. Revolution stuck in my head. Compartment buddies. German architect? First song in Singapore – elite – tamparan wanita hahahah! Courteous ppl. Neighbourhood was lively and active. A lot more old people on the move and outside, out and about. Big landed properties. Urban planning. Birds here don’t poop? Fun on Arab Street. Food and atmosphere of kampong glam at night. Orchard road architecture. Ice cream. Authentic little India. Most walking I’ve done in 6 months or more.
The subsequent days I was too busy and tired to make notes! Will try to remember all the best and interesting parts though hehe

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Day 2
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS!!!!!! Weeehooo! Okay first a confession. I couldn’t help but compare everything to Disneyland. Of course, that’s not at all fair. But I was still very the excited about USS. We got there about half an hour before the gates opened and even then there was already a large crowd there. One bummer was that the largest and wildest ride wasn’t open yet, and one other ride was under maintenance. Also, it rained in the afternoon. Pretty heavily, but thankfully I had bought a poncho for the water world show so I put that on. My feet and most of my legs were still soaked, but it was fun, can’t remember the last time I splashed around in the rain :D we also took advantage of the rain to ride the hell out of one of the indoor rides, the one we lined up about 40 minutes for before as a group, but on our subsequent rides we all went solo and had fun making faces at the camera. Actually, the lost world was one of the best parts of the theme park. One thing about USS is that they constantly have people in costumes walking around for photo-ops so we harassed a hunky pharaoh and his jealous Cleopatra-like lady. And then Aminah went all vixen on a pair of Anubis or Seth-like creatures on power stilts. That was a lot of fun haha! Wish we captured their exchange on video but we didn’t :/ some of the shows that we went to were a lot of fun, like the Donkey live show, but there was one in particular that was just WHAAT. So not the way I pictured my first “rock” concert ahah. We planned to go zip-lining after USS but because of the rain we couldn’t. Waited the rain out a bit and then went up to imbiah lookout point for the luge. So much fun! Wheeee~!! Can’t say the same for the skylift back up the hill. We thought it would be a little lift up but it was quite high up and with no harness/restraints keeping us from tumbling down. A very nerve wracking ascend. Never knew I was giddy about unprotected heights. Oh wait. Yes I did :p definitely didn’t feel like jumping this time.
Wanted to wait for the 9.30 fireworks over USS so we stayed up at imbiah lookout and played a spot of truth or dare, for lack of better things to do. The dares had me in stitches!!! Aminah was such a sport and definite cheerleader material :D poor coffee bean workers. Getting harassed by us. In the end the fireworks went off but behind a building so all we could see was smoke =.=
Got home super spent.

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Day 3
the plan for day three was Singapore River and surroundings, science centre, and night safari. We did manage to go do all three but didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked on the first two. We did do quite a bit though. Visited a burhani mosque near city hall for zuhr, to the disappointment of some there was no one inside to observe. The science centre was extremely fun, sadly only got an hour or so to play around with the exhibits, so we were running around like mad children trying to do see hear touch everything! Fun fun times. Definitely must go back there and go through all the sections more thoroughly.
Night safari was also a lot of fun. The animals were alert, alive, and very close-up. Our tram guide person had a very exotic way of saying babi rusa :P by stroke of luck we were allowed to bypass some people and get onto an earlier tram, so when we finished the tram ride we got off and rushed to the animal show place. When we got there the sign said it was full but we hung around and they managed to let us in. Yay!!

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Day 4
by day 4 I was pretty much broke. But we wanted to check out some shopping so we headed over to bugis. Tried on these amazing trousers from topshop and had a good hearty laugh over the price. Crossed over to Bugis Street, which was almost exactly like Petaling Street or Times Square, so didn’t buy anything. Shopping usually gives me a headache, especially in places that are super crowded. Ilham wasn’t feeling too swell either so we ended up just having lunch at pastamania and talking in hushed tones about our opinion of what Singapore really is. Headed back to Novena to board the bus, but whaddaya know, we couldn’t find our bus tickets! Panic! Scramble and rummage through all our bags. No luck. Thank god we had only bought our tix earlier that morning so the lady had it in their records kot, so we managed to get on the bus and waved ta-ta to Singapore....

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This was written a while back but never got around to publishing it. My overall impression of Singapore is that it’s a very orderly city, everything works efficiently and smoothly and almost perfectly. Its clean and modern and full of people. Its bigger than I expected, meaning that there is actually distance and length of time for getting places ahaha! I was impressed that cars will stop for you at zebra crossings, which pretty much never happens in Malaysia. It’s a very impressive little country. Nevertheless, in the four days that I was there, I felt like there was something terribly off about the country. Something wrong. Something incredibly odd. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the people and how they are so uniform in mindset? Individuality is very different here, somehow. I still don’t know what exactly what is weirdly offish. But I’m glad to be back. Malaysia, with all its flaws and grit and issues, is still a pretty great place to be, Alhamdulillah :)


1 hitchhikers:

Meem said...

Chuckles. That weekend was hard to beat for me :D We should do another round of truth or dare.

You're not the only visitor to say something's off with SG. I hear that a number of times now to be honest. It's far from perfect, maybe next time we go to the more grittier part of the city and skip the tourist areas :)

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