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MY TRAVEL STORY: Revisiting Singapore
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    MY TRAVEL STORY: Revisiting Singapore

    Part 1-Food, Glorious Food

    My travel to Singapore on the second week of November was mainly a business trip. However, I did not allow work to rob me the opportunity to enjoy my stay in this city. Being in Singapore during this period had both minus and plus sides. The down side was that due to the APEC meeting attended by world leaders during this week, hotels were fully booked and accommodation rates were upped. The up side was that the city was specially primped, security was tightened, and even the already squeaky clean surrounding was further sanitized to my liking.

    I have often heard complaints about Singapore being a very expensive place, including the price of food. I half agree. Actually, you can also find reasonably-priced meals that suit your low budget. It is only a matter of knowing where to dine. Lodged in a hotel on Orchard Road, I was close to food courts serving a huge variety of cuisines -Chinese, Malay, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Iranian, Indian, Pakistani, etc. at reasonable prices.

    Funny, though, that I'd often survey thoroughly the foods on display and end up ordering Thai food! This was despite my friends reminding me that this was not authentic Thai cuisine and shouldn't I wait for a few days when I'd arrive in Bangkok and could have my fill of genuine Thai cooking.

    Luckily, my hotel fee included a very decent buffet breakfast; thus there was only lunch and dinner to be taken care of.

    At a certain point we tended to frequent Kopitiam and the food court at the basement of Concorde Hotel primarily because of their proximity to our hotel. The other reason was that Concorde food court offered a wide array of desserts, which attracted us, sweet tooth as we were. The sea coconut soaked in syrup and pandan juice which was patiently queued for by both young and old alike, initially magnetized us. I had originally meant to stick with fresh fruits only, trying to force a semblance of discipline into my already crumbling dietary regimen. But when one of my friends came up with the bright idea of ordering several delicacies at a time with us in tow as co-tasters, I instantly succumbed. He paid; we ate. How could I resist that?
    Last edited by Marie; 27-11-09 at 10:27 AM.

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    Re: MY TRAVEL STORY: Revisiting Singapore (Part 1)

    how much were the reasonably priced meals?

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    Re: MY TRAVEL STORY: Revisiting Singapore (Part 1)

    Part 2: Places to Visit in Singapore

    Our group was treated with a courtesy half-day city tour conducted by a tour agency. Starting at 8:30 am to 1:30 pm, the excursion acquainted us with the culture, history and lifestyle of "multi-raced Singapore". Among the places we visited included:

    SINGAPORE FLYER- the world's largest observation wheel where you can view SIngapore landscape and some parts of neighboring malaysia and Indonesia at every turn of the wheel.

    COLONIAL DISTRICT- including the Parliament House, Supreme Court, City Hall, Esplanade, etc

    CENTRAL FIRE STATION- a century-old building, looking quaint but beautifully preserved

    CHINATOWN- we entered the 160 year-old Thian Hock keng Temple uniquely built without any use of nail joints.

    In this place, our co-passengers busied themselves buying Chinese traditional herbal medicines. It seemed the place is famous for these.

    RAFFLES HOTEL- this is Singapore's oldest hotel named after the country's founder, Sir Stamford Raffles. Presidents, queens, kings and Hollywood celebrities have stayed in this colonial style hotel since 1887. It is also the most expensive hotel in Singapore. A must-do at the Raffles is a visit to the legendary Long Bar where the famous cocktail Singapore Sling was first concocted more than 100 years ago.

    LITTLE INDIA- We just had time to quickly scan the goods sold in here, including lovely silks, bags, mementos, and the like. But I also saw handicrafts in the stalls made in other countries, notably Thailand and China. Around the place were Indian restaurants, (which I used to frequent in my earlier visits when we felt like eating Indian food), the famous Mustapha Department Store which sells cheap goods, and a money exchange dealer (in front of AB restaurant, at the corner of Lembu Rd. and Serangoon Rd.) which according to my Singaporean friend, gives very good exchange rates.

    GEM FACTORY-Like anywhere else in the world, (almost) all commercial tours lead to a gem factory! Ours was not an exception. But my friends and I quickly lost interest when the second window that we viewed displayed a pair of earrings which, coincidentally, was exactly identical with what I was wearing on that day- and the price in this factory was triple! What a turn off. But aside from that, jewelry was not really in our shopping lists.

    NATIONAL ORCHID GARDEN--the last leg in our tour, and my top favorite, this garden showcases several kinds of orchids from all over the world. Specially featured is Singapore's national flower, a hybrid orchid called Vanda Miss Joachim (VJM). Interestingly, it is said that its four petals symbolize the four ethnic groups in Singapore. And its two supporting petals represent the sharing of glory and pain.
    Last edited by Marie; 27-11-09 at 11:41 AM.

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    Re: MY TRAVEL STORY: Revisiting Singapore (Part 1)

    Quote Originally Posted by fish View Post
    how much were the reasonably priced meals?
    If I remember right, about 2-3 S$ for a viand with rice. Vegetable dishes were cheapest in the menu, sometimes less than 2 S$. I noticed, too, that they gave generous servings. However, Thai food was always more than 5 S$ a course wherever I went!

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    Re: MY TRAVEL STORY: Revisiting Singapore

    always interesting to see when tour agencies cram two days' worth of sightseeing (by the sound of it) into a few hours one of the reasons I never really warm to the concept.

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    Re: MY TRAVEL STORY: Revisiting Singapore

    Part 3: A Perplexing Incident at Vivo City

    An expat friend hosted a lunch for me and my colleague at Vivo City. It's one of the newest entertainment complexes in Singapore. After the meal, we strolled around the mall. I was walking about two meters ahead of my companions when a stranger emerged from nowhere, stopped me, and held my two hands. It was a male, probably in his late twenties, looking like someone from the Middle East. He was smiling while mumbling something unintelligible. Because of his thick accent the only word I could catch was "hands".

    Gripped by bewilderment and mild terror, the thought that first crossed my mind was, did he want to snatch my bag? But it was tightly strapped on my chest. It's the kind that you could fasten to your body like a backpack but worn in front. My body bag and I were a package deal. If he had attempted to seize it from me, he would have needed to drag me, too, the same way Stone's Age men pulled the women (I have seen such a cartoon in the Sunday funnies). Huge hassle for him.

    I quickly withdrew my hand from his grip. Under that disconcerting circumstance, I instinctively resorted to my first line of defense, that is to feign, " Sorry, no English, no English." But now there were already two grinning men in front of me. He had a companion, who looked like him. The second guy was going to hold my hands, too. That was when my friends from behind had caught up with me. One told them, " Sorry, we are rushing. We need to go." And we squiggled away. I didn't even look back.

    We were absolutely clueless what those guys wanted from me. This was Singapore. It's one of the safest countries in the world. Mugging is almost unthinkable here. And in a busy mall? No way.

    When we were on the bus on our way to the hotel, we couldn't stop thinking about the incident. Another tourist suggested that maybe he wanted to tell my fortune by reading my palms. Of course with a fee! By then another disturbing thought dawned on me anew: But why did they single me out? Did I look naive, gullible--and errr--stupid?

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    Re: MY TRAVEL STORY: Revisiting Singapore

    maybe they just fancied you tried to ask for your hand in marriage or something

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    Re: MY TRAVEL STORY: Revisiting Singapore

    Probably some touts.

    They are expert in spotting tourists and they are coming up with more and more creative ideas to jump tourists. Some touts in Thailand will walk up to you and say "Hey good to see you again" or something similar, while wanting to shake hands. Many will instinctively stop and shake their hand without thinking.

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    Notice! Re: MY TRAVEL STORY: Revisiting Singapore

    Lucky for me to had an Asian face. I don't had any problem either in Thailand or Singapore.

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    Re: MY TRAVEL STORY: Revisiting Singapore

    Part 4: The Price of Flying Low-cost

    I was coaxed into flying with AirAsia from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The justification was very reasonable: low cost.

    The other low-budget alternative was to leisurely drive on a luxurious coach traversing scenic views from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. But five hours seated on a van? No, Siree. The idea didn't appeal to me. Hence, the 55-minute air travel by AirAsia.

    The flight itself was smooth, hassle-free, and uneventful. But not the checking-in part.

    Upon arriving at the departure area, I promptly searched for the right check- in counter. There were no boards or written announcements to look at. I proceeded to the AirAsia desks to inquire from the airline personnel. I gave our flight number and asked if I could already check in. The AirAsia lady answered, "Counter Number 5" and yes, we could already check in.

    However, we circled the area twice and found no "Counter Number 5". I decided to go back to the same girl and asked her where's that counter. This time she said, "Just stand over there."

    We dutifully marched to the direction she pointed at where there were already some multiple queues formed. I inquired where the passengers were bound for, and in one column, their destinations varied. Some were going to Jakarta, some to Bali and some to Penang. Although we were confused, we nonetheless stood in the queue. But I did not stop inquiring from others in case they knew. Nobody did. I heard others looking for their check-in counters also. Finally, I saw a guy in red and white uniform, and true enough he was an AsiaAir employee. I shot the same question and he told me to wait, he'd be back. However, he never returned.

    After about more than an hour in the queue which did not move an inch, an airline staff came to announce that the flight to Jakarta was boarding. The guys in front of me were booked in that flight--and they had been clueless where to check in!

    At that point, I resolved to force the issue. I buttonholed the airline staff and pleaded to him to please let us know already where our mysterious check-in desk was . He excused himself, promising to return. Miraculously, he did!

    He formed a new line, and soon dozens of similarly-bound passengers from other rows scampered to join us. It's worthwhile to mention, though, that we never saw a "Counter Number 5".

    The plane finally departed, though about an hour delayed.The flight was also fully booked. I marvelled about how many are willing to ignore small hitches in the name of low cost, which, in fact, has also a price!
    Last edited by Marie; 02-12-09 at 04:59 PM.

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