Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Backlog: Malaysia - Singapore Travelogue pt.3

Our journey is far from over. It was almost 1 am in Singapore, and we've got practically nowhere to go. We were left wandering in Chinatown by cab ($ 8.20) from Queens Terminal and spent almost an hour in local 24 hrs restaurant that actually still filled with many patrons. Finally, exhaustion took its toll (at least for me) and walking with that huge backpack isn't much fun anymore. This is our first (of second) mistake in Singapore soil. Checking in to the nearest hotel in Chinatown (Hotel 81) that cost us dearly ($ 179 for a night). But, all in all, it has been a pretty adventurous trip, and me and my wife were actually excited to re-enact our journey next time despite this wrongful decision (my decision, if I may add) that cost us a lot.

We spent almost nine hours in that hotel. At 11 am, we checked out, heads to one of the apartment in Chinatown, and got ourselves a small place to stay for a night for a measly $ 40 and the fun of the day had just begin.

Little do we know that on that particular day, Singapore is celebrating its National Day. Therefore, it was especially crowded that day, and we saw red shirts everywhere. We begin our day by going to the nearest MRT station, Chinatown. The very first thing I noticed in Singapore is how everybody using some sort of card as their payment. Thus, the very first thing I wanted to have is that card. Luckily, there's a Ticket Office in Chinatown MRT station (not all station had this office, and in Chinatown it only opens from 12 pm) so we asks the very helpful lady behind the counter for a card. She offers us a Daily Tourist Pass ($ 8 / day each with $ 10 deposit refundable upon returning the card within 5 days. Total: $ 18). We were so lucky to have this card for given the standard tariff, and the amount of time we were using the transportation either by MRT or bus, had we didn't have the card, we would spent $ 30 - $ 35 minimum on tickets alone.

Commuting in Singapore is a no-brainer if you're good with maps and I'm considered myself very very good with maps. It took very little for me to memorized the MRT map and means to go to various "recommended" location to visit in Singapore. The first location we're visiting is obviously Orchard Rd. We travels there with MRT which involving switching trains halfway through, took a lunch there (I personally, didn't really liked Orchard Rd. perhaps because other than Starbucks or Movie theater, I generally hated Shopping-Malls and I don't really see why I should treat Malls that littered Orchard Rd. differently) and quickly went away albeit not quick enough to my liking.

Another obvious site is Melion Park. We really have no idea where to go, even my friend who has been to Singapore for an n-th time doesn't really have the clue either (I told you before, he was a spoiled-and-freakishly-rich boy). He said it was in Sommerset, and so we go there by MRT, but we saw another Malls and I hate it already. One of the local citizen pointed us to City Hall and this is where we, for the first time, actually seen the ridiculous crowd who celebrated the National Day. People flocking the street in front of the Esplanade theater, all the way to the bridge that led to Melion Park. My wife, who wanted to visit the lion statue in Melion Park, put a second thought and decided against it after we saw the ridiculous crowd which make it near impossible to go near the statue.

After few photo shoots, we go to Bugis Village for souvenirs (they're cheap! This is where you need to go to bought souvenirs, if you asked me) and a light dinner. Afterward, we went to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal almost all the way to the eastern side of the island to bought our home ticket to Batam. Of course, the Terminal is almost closed. But, we learnt a valuable lesson that there's actually another Ferry Terminal just two MRT stations from Chinatown (Harbour Front). Our feet is already sore from walking all the time, but as the nice lady in Tanah Merah said that the last ferry from Harbour Front departed at 10 pm, we decided to go to Harbour Front. Only to find out that they don't sell tickets in advance. Exhausted, but happy, we decided to go back to Chinatown and immediately fell asleep.

For fear of no tickets available, we head to Harbour Front early in the morning to bought three tickets to Batam at 1250 pm. This is where I made my second mistake. The nice lady asked me, "Pulang balik?" (Going back?) which I had wrongfully assumed that she asked wether I was going back to my home country to which of course I said, yes. An hour later, my wife revealed to me that she actually asked wether I want a two-way ticket to which I had given a "Yes" for an answer. That set us back $ 41 each, and three unused one-way ticket to Singapore from Batam that valid until July 31st, 2009 which we're planned to use for ourselves later this year.

The ferry went exactly on time and you know the very first thing my wife and I did right upon our arrival in Batam? Local food, plenty of rice, plenty of chillies, and a glass of warm tea. That made my day.

All in all, it was a very nice experience. My wife and I brought $ 400 and RM 200 and we are left with $ 40 in small change. But, there's a plenty room for improvement that I dare to say, you could spent two days and two nights in Singapore with only $ 150 and still able to brought back souvenirs. Professional wise, Singapore is a place I would love to work in. Superb transportation system that renders the ole reason of "caught in a traffic jam" largely useless and laughable. But for a mid-range salary man, I still prefers Jakarta than Singapore to raise a family. Much.

By the way, we had already planned our next "unplanned" trip. Instead of going south from Kuala Lumpur, we're going to try to head north from Kuala Lumpur. Penang, Phuket, and perhaps as far as Hanoi if our budget permitted.


Digg this

No comments: