Continued from The Great Singapore Adventure Day 3.
I woke up to the sounds of crinkling plastic. I tried to tone it out but it got the better of me. I peered over my bed’s protective guardrail and saw Belinda fixing her things. I also saw a foot — roughly size ten or more — dangling over the bed below me. I took a peek and hello, there’s a man. A really good looking, scantily clad and rather built young man.
While we were told that our rooms would be shared, it didn’t occur to me that our roommate would be a guy. Well, it sort of did but not this guy. I think we spent a good chunk of the morning ogling him and his friend, who was sleeping under the other bunk bed. Guys, if by some weird chance you read this, hi. I’m not crazy and I don’t bite. I just appreciate God’s beautiful creations. :p
Oddly enough, no one thought of taking a picture. Personally, I think we all felt it would be intrusive, as opposed to just looking and committing them to memory. Sadly, when we got back, they’ve check out. Either they were really moving on or we’ve scared them.
Our first stop was IKEA at Alexander Road. Belinda wanted to go there and since she was leaving later that day, we decided to go their first. When I was a kid, Mama had an IKEA catalog, and I loved browsing through it. There’s something about the clean lines of the designs that I really like.
We got off at Red Hill station and took the #33 bus. Can I just say again that I love Singapore’s transportation system? We purchased two day passes for the MRT and it works with the bus as well. All you had to do was tap the card on the receiver when you get on, and tap it again when you get off.
I have a rough idea why there’s no IKEA here. It would quickly put the furniture department of the local shops out of business. IKEA has an awful lot of things going for it: great design & quality, practical pieces, sturdiness and relatively affordable prices (I say relatively because if you take into consideration the other factors then convert the price, it’s pretty worth it).
The store is known also for serving great tasting Swedish meatballs. Goes to show just how ignorant I am. I didn’t know that IKEA had a cafeteria and that they sold food stuff. I only thought they had furniture and home appliance. We raided the small food section at the ground floor (I only got some chocolates), then headed back up to the cafeteria for merienda-slash-lunch.
Nez and I shared an order of Swedish meatballs and salmon with broccoli (I was looking for vegetables, because I feel that I’ve been eating nothing but meat for the past few days). I was surprised to see the meatballs were served with something that looked like strawberry jam, only it was less sweet. I later learned that it’s lingonberry sauce, and it complements the salty tang of the cream sauce that comes with the dish.
For dessert, Bel shared this delicious chocolate cake. With our stomachs happily full, we headed off to our next adventure. However, while crossing the street to go to the bus stop (I had once again forgotten that SG traffic goes the opposite way), more “SALE” signs at the building across caught my friends’ eyes. Needless to say we just had to go there.
Cotton On, Crocs, Charles & Keith and even Pierre Cardin were among the few stores that had products on sale. I browsed a little at Cotton On and got a pink shirt, but while my friends were enjoying themselves trying on shoes at C&K, I spent a few blissful minutes resting my feet.
We decided to drop off our things at the hostel first before heading to the Singapore Flyer, since it wouldn’t do to lug our heavy purchases around. I went with the guys because I wanted to change out of my shoes and into more comfortable slippers. Also, I wanted to see if our roommates were still around (to my disappointment, they’ve already checked out).
The Singapore Flyer is located near Marina Bay Sands. When I say “near”, I mean you should be able to see both landmarks from any point nearby. We got off the train station then walked. The SG Flyer is said to be the world’s biggest Ferris wheel, even bigger than the London Flyer. Some of the cabins are fitted with conference tables and chairs, or dining tables, which you can rent. I can only imagine what it would be like to conduct meetings, or maybe a cozy dinner for you and your significant other.
The view from the very top can make you go “Wow!”. You’ll have a 360 degree view of Singapore and the sea. The buildings look like models my mom would create, and the cars look like toys. The entire ride lasted for about thirty minutes, which was enough time for us to rest and relax.
Our next stop was the Merlion. However, we had no idea how to get there except to walk. Unfortunately for us, the shortest route to the Esplanade was closed due to an activity for Singapore’s founding day. Pedestrians and cars were asked to go around to get to the other side. However, with Bel’s disability and Nez’s persuasive powers, we were able to convince the young MPs to let us pass. We even had escorts, whom Manuel chatted with as we walked.
We reached Esplanade and had some lovely dollar ice cream. Imagine this block of ice cream that’s cut into chunks and placed in between wafers, or pieces of colorful bread whichever you prefer. It’s their version of our dirty ice cream. I had blueberry. The other flavors were good too, but the durian was something I’ll pass on.
We realized that the Merlion was still quite a way off, so we took pictures of it from afar and headed off to Orchard to meet the rest of the group. When we arrived there, we discussed what we all wanted to do next, and we ended up doing our own things.
Nez, Bel and I split from the rest of the group to meet up with Nez’s friend Leigh. I wanted to go to Chinatown to find the Tin Tin Shop, and Bel wanted to go there to try some chili crab and cereal prawns.
Singapore’s Chinatown is noisy and bustling as ours, yet it is different in quite a few ways. While our Chinatown is a business area, it is also residential. SG’s Chinatown seems to be purely business and recreational, and looks like it’s really geared toward tourists. It seems to be friendlier, yet I don’t really feel that it’s a Chinatown. I do love how clean it is, and it really is a treasure trove of good eats and bargain souvenirs.
We had dinner at this little place near the side streets of Chinatown. It’s a must that you eat with your hands, so bring your clean wipes and hand sanitizers afterwards. It was a good dinner, with much laughter and stories courtesy of Leigh. Bel had to leave to catch her flight, so we sent her off in a cab while we roamed Chinatown a little more.
Probably the biggest draw of Singapore is the fact that people are law-abiding, and crime is very minimum. It’s safe to roam the streets at night and you don’t really have to worry about pickpockets or thieves when you walk.
However, like anywhere in the world, Singapore has it’s share of unscrupulous people. Unfortunately for my friends, they had the experience of running into one.
My best friend’s brother, Everlo, was saving up to buy a PS3. Many folks told him that it was cheaper in Singapore, so he decided to buy it there. It was originally planned that we’d go to Funan for this, but while Nez and I were in Chinatown, they found a shop in Lucky Plaza at Orchard Road that sold PS3s at a good price.
Note: From here on I shall retell the events as it was relayed to me. I wasn’t around when this happened, so my account may not be clear.
The shopkeeper at the store offered the PS3 at a good price. My friend’s brother was accompanied by his brother-in-law JP, who offered to pay for the purchase using his credit card. Everlo asked the shopkeeper to open the box and lay out all the contents. Everything seemed to be there so they haggled the price down to SGD500, with a free controller and a game.
When the shopkeeper swiped the card, Everlo and JP were surprised to see that the amount was more than 500, somewhere around SGD600+ which was the original price. They pointed it out and the shopkeeper cancelled that transaction and proceeded to punch in the correct amount. He then gave them a receipt to sign, but his hand was covering a part of the receipt. Seeing nothing wrong, my friend signed the receipt. To their surprise, the shopkeeper handed over just the controller and the game.
When my friends pointed out that their agreement was the unit and the freebies for the price, the shopkeeper said it wasn’t so and if they didn’t leave, he’ll call the police. My friends said go ahead. The shopkeeper then said he’ll say that my friend was trying to get money from the cash register (which was on the other end of the store, behind the counter). Not one to back down, Everlo said go ahead. He pointed out that the cashier won’t have his fingerprints and if they really wanted proof, they should show the CCTV footage. Apparently, the shop doesn’t really have a CCTV system.
Everlo then tried to reach for the PS3 unit, but the shopkeeper pushed him. Twice. The second push was strong enough to outbalance Everlo. He put his arms out to find a grip on anything, and his watch hit the wall, chipping off a part of it. He was able to get this part on video. JP immediately called his credit card company to hold off the incoming SGD500 charge.
By the time Nez and I arrived from Chinatown, her siblings were already talking to the police. The mall was already closing, and there were only a few people around. Some Filipinos stopped and asked what was going on, and we relayed the story. One Singaporean man sitting next to me asked what’s happening, but I was somewhat hesitant to tell him the story. Later on, JP’s wife learned that this man was a former policeman and had friends with the local media. After learning of the situation, he called a reporter who immediately came over. They took pictures and interviewed my friends.
We made plans to go to the Philippine Embassy the next day, as well as to go to the Singapore Tourism Board to report this and see what can be done.
This shop is right at the corner near the McDonald’s at the basement of Lucky Plaza. I wasn’t able to get the name or a photo.
Needless to say, this put a damper on our day. It started off really well, with us being able to go around and enjoy our day. We headed home and decided to have dinner at one of the restaurants along the streets near our hostel. I consoled myself with some Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, purchased from the neighborhood 7-Eleven and served by an Ilocana.
Continued at The Great Singapore Adventure Day 5.