Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Backpacking Day 2: Chinatown and Little India, Singapore

Day 2 is also known as NGANGA SINGAPORE. 



In order to save on accommodation costs, we decided to cross borders at night and just choose buses with reclining seats so we could sleep the whole travel time. From Pudu Sentral in Malaysia to Golden Mile Complex in Singapore, it only took us around 5-6 hours (immigration of two countries included). 

We left KL at 12 midnight and arrived at SG before 6AM. Although we were lost for a lot of times and experienced several nganga moments, this, the morning of May 26, 2014 was the nganga moment that topped everything. 

We arrived at Golden Mile with no SGD only with PHP and MYR. So kahit may pera kami, we couldn't do anything, we were so lost for words. Sobrang talino namin at hindi namin naisip 'yon. We walked to Lavender Station and asked the guy manning the ticket counter if there was a nearby money changer and there was. OMG, money changer at last! Until he continued his sentence and told us, "But they're still sleeping. They will open at 8AM." WTF. We saw an ATM in the MRT accepting Mastercard and Visa ganyan, so okay, pikit-mata sa international service charge, I entered my Eastwest Visa Card to withdraw SGD only that, I forgot my pin code. Shems!!!! My friend also tried withdrawing but the ATM couldn't read her card. Not sure if her bank needed an international activation whatsoever. So ang ending, wala pa rin kaming SGD. Nga pala, even if pareho lang ang oras natin sa Malaysia at Singapore, past 7 na sumisikat at lumulubong ang araw doon.

We looked like the suspicious-looking persons there so we went up the station and waited for the businesses to open. Yes, we stood there for two hours hoping for a Malaysian or Filipino person to pass by whom we could exchange our money with. Pero waleeeey! Hindi na namin alam gagawin namin but to wait and when it was almost 8 AM, we asked for the nearest money changer and the nearest they have there was in Golden Mile Complex.  (Pero ngayong iniisip ko, tinatanong ko pa rin sarili kung bakit nga ba hindi kami naghanap ng upuan. Hahaha! ) Shems!!!!!!! Babalik kami doon tapos babalik kami sa Lavender Station ulit!!! For those who've been to BGC, the distance is like from Market! Market! to the Fort Strip or even a bit farther. Okay naman sana kaso bitbit kasi namin 'yung backpack and we haven't eaten anything in the last 10 hours.

So my friend's house was in Ang Mo Kio area so we rode the Eastwest Line Lavender Station (EW 11) to Jurong East (EW 24), transferred to North South Line of Jurong East (NS 1) to Ang Mo Kio (NS16).  Umikot kami sa SG! My ghad!!!!! That MRT ride was the longest ride I've been to eveeeer! We took the loooong way to Ang Mo Kio only to find out that from Lavender  (EW11), we could have alighted at City Hall (EW 13), transferred to the North South line of City Hall (NS25) to get to Ang Mo Kio (NS16). Diba, station codes pa lang, mas mabilis na puntahan?  Isa pa, in SG buses and mrt just use one MRT card. It doesn't matter what line are you from, you just have to select your boarding and alighting points for your fare. Dyan pa kami nagkamali, we exited Eastwest line and entered again (another fare) to ride NS line.

Turista ka sa SG?! Nakapunta ka bang Ang Mo Kio? Nakita mo ba 'yung mga construction sites?  Nakaabout ka ba ng Woodlands? ng Marsiling? ng Yo Chu Kang? Hindi?! Kami, oo! Nakita namin lahat lahat. Ikaw ba naman mag tour via MRT sa umaga. Ewan ko na lang. Yan na lang nga pampalubag-loob namin eh. One of the best ways to enjoy a foreign country is to live and travel like a local. Yan! Yan!! Yan!!!
After 10 years, we arrived at Ang Mo Kio station that is connected to a mall named Ang Mo Kio hub. We ate at Sizzling Pepper Lunch and this is priced s$10.00 with a sidedish and drink. Grabe, that feeling when you finally arrive at your destination after experiencing so much! Daming nangyari. The best 4 hours of my life that felt like forever. Huhuhuhu. 
After washing-up and a little bit of rest, we were at it again. Hi my dearest ticketing machine bestfriend! Sa sobrang bestfriend namin nito, ayaw na niya ata kaming mahiwalay sa isa't isa.

DAY 2 started at 2PM. Late na kameeeee. :(

You have three options should you prefer riding the MRT and LRT:

1. Buy ticket per ride (this ticket is called Standard ticket which could be used up to 6 times). You won't need to pay the deposit of s$10 and no need to reload your card. We used this card.
2. Buy the regular EZ link card and just reload your fare budget.
3. Buy the Singapore tourist pass link: here.

Option number 3 could actually be the best bet should you decide to spend your day roaming around SG and if you have s$30. We were supposed to avail one but upon thinking it over more, we decided not to since we didn't have enough time to go to other "places of interest" anymore.
We arrived at Chinatown! Yeheeeey!

From Ang Mo Kio (NS16) we alighted at Dhoby Ghaut (NS24), transferred to its Northeast Line (NE6) and rode until Chinatown (NE4).
Buti na lang sanay na sanay kami sa MRT at sa LRT sa Pilipinas, chicken lang ang pagsakay sa MRT at LRT ng Singapore. Except sa paglipat-lipat ng lines ha, once a lost kid parang always a lost kid ata ang peg namin. Huwag naman sanaaaa!  I'm really confident that if one day I'll be in Singapore again, I can ride the MRT and LRT encountering minimal to no problems. First time kasi 'to. Alam mo na. hehehehe

Do you want me back, SG? Ayyy, kahit ayaw mo, I'll be back. :)))
You can shop/hunt for souvenirs here in Chinatown. It's like our Divisoria or Baclaran only a lot cleaner and safer. Sana ganito rin 'yung set-up sa'tin. I bought shirts, key chains, nail cutters etc. here and used my BPI Mastercard Prepaid (Soon! I'll write a post about it soon) without international service charge. 'Yung price na na-debit sa card ko was the converted amount of SGD to PHP. (The souvenirs I bought aren't included in a day's budget.)

I never really understood the tagline "Singapore is a fine city." until I went there. Lahat talaga ng mali mong gagawin, may fine! That's the reason why we always thought twice before drinking, eating, walking at sidewalks, crossing the street etc. Who knows, baka nasama pa sa experience namin doon ang "Bail Us Out Singapore" na thankfully wala naman. hehehe. Singapore, too, is a safe country. I heard that it has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. I forgot to say that I was shocked when I first rode their MRT/LRT because almost all riders were using their phones (Sosyal phones!), tablets and the lady seated beside me was even using her laptop. Stress! Sa Pilipinas, takot na takot akong ilabas 'yung phone ko. Doon, keriboomboom lang eh.

They also have several inns and hostels in Chinatown if you're looking for accommodations. 
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

We are practicing Roman Catholic but when we saw this Buddhist temple, we immediately went inside. This isn't the first time anyway that I've gone to one. This is a massive 5-story museum and it's free but we only toured around the first floor.

Each visitor is to light a free incense before entering the temple.
Not sure which is which but there is a Hundred Dragons Hall, Universal Wisdom Hall, Courtyard etc. in the first floor. 
This is the Vairocana Buddha, the guardian of those born in the year of the monkey.

Vairocana Buddha represents the Dharmakaya, the true nature of reality, thus an embodiment of the highest wisdom. 
When we left the temple, we went back to Pagoda street (the street on the first part of this post, not the one in the picture above), to convert our PHP to SGD for our budget on our second day in Singapore. Money changer in Chinatown gave us higher exchange rate (higher by a dollar than the first) then the money changer in Little India gave even higher exchange rate which was higher by 2 dollars I think. 

Anyway, the road in the picture is named Southbridge Road.
Along Southbridge road, you can also see this Hindu temple named Sri Mariamman Temple that we weren't able to enter.
Given that there are different temples in the area, one may conclude that Singapore is a multi-religious country. What's amazing is that even if there may be a great difference in background, beliefs and ethnicity, you'd notice that the people remain to be peaceful- respecting the freedom of others in practicing the religion of their choice. Kasi kung sa aaminin man natin o hindi, may ibang lugar na chaotic dahil dyan. Mahirap minsan mag co-exist sa iisang lugar ang mga taong may iba't ibang paniniwala.

You just got to love the diversity of religious practices there. Di ba, there's more to the world than what we are aware of.
Presenting Chinatown's Food Street (Smith Street)
Don't miss this place when you're in the area!

Notice the high ceiling glass that has internal cooling spots. Sobrang okay dyan! Rain or shine. There's also a free wifi connection for those who can register. Binigo ako ng Globe Roaming ko kasi. -_-


I bought this Signature Wanton Noodle (s$4.50) at Joo Chiat Ang Moh Noodle House
This one's good! I just didn't like the vegetable included because of its bitter aftertaste.
Went back to Pagoda street because it is where the MRT station is so we could transfer to Little India.
The street of Little India called Serangoon Road.
Chinatown is NE4 while Little India (also commonly known as Tekka) is NE7. 
Aside from sight-seeing, the main reason why we went here was the Mustafa Centre. It's like our Dutyfree. Hulaan mo!! Hehehe. There are lots of things to buy in the whole area but we went there for the chocolates.

I bought around s$30.00 worth of chocolates in cash, that's around P 1050.00. So all-in-all pala, our budget for two days touring in Singapore was P 3,000.00 compared to the P 4,000.00 that I put in the main page of this backpacking adventure link: here.

After our souvenir shopping, we wanted to go to another "shopping district of SG" called Bugis Street but because we were carrying a lot of things that time, we opted to skip it and just travel back home. Uyyyyy, palusot. :)))) Ayaw lang mapa-gastos. Hahahaha. Balik na lang ako for you, Bugis. Wait ka lang. 
We went back to Ang Mo Kio and ate our dinner here at a nearby hawker place. We ordered steamed chicken rice for s$3.00. Not sure if this chicken is also the well-known Hainanese chicken. Medyo na- wrong order. Tignan mo 'yung dugo. -_- Yes, it was good and okay especially when dipped in its sauce except 'yung ibang parts because of the blood. Shems. But the rice was good though. Enlighten me pls, ganyan ba talaga?

While eating, we shared our table with a local named Charlie. We really think that he is one of those who clean the tables because the Auntie kept shouting at him in Chinese while he just continued conversing with us. In SG, even pensioned senior citizens continue to work! It kind of felt weird to see senior citizens cleaning after us but since it's the practice, nasanay din. Some work not because they need to but because they want to or some continues to work to supplement their income because of the high living expenses there but one thing's for sure, gamit na gamit ang human resources and that's a good thing. Gumagalaw at hindi ini-aasa lang sa iba o sa gobyerno ang buhay. Anyway, back to Charlie, he only knows two things about the Philippines. One is President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda Marcos whom he referred to as the number one woman in his generation. Second, Filipino shirts look good because of the floral designs He might have seen Mayor Lito Atienza somewhere. hehe.  Naturally, he bragged about Singapore and kept on asking us if we enjoyed, we told him yes and that we were only staying there for two days, and he told us that we should have stayed longer.

 Okay, Charlie, babalik na lang akooooooo! 
We decided to stay in Ang Mo Kio Hub for a few minutes before heading home.

Matcha Latte Regular Size
Forgot the price but this was between s$5.00 - s$10.00
Papilay-pilay na kami when we were in Ang Mo Kio hub, our feet hurt so bad already because of too much walking until we saw this picture of Lee Min Ho. Hahahaha.

"Uy, si Lee Min Ho!!!" Akala mo andun talaga siya ehh.
Sabay napatakbo kami ng mabilis, took a picture "with him" not minding the people looking at us. #fangirlproblems

Hayy, Lee Min Ho, you're an effective energy booster and  pain reliever. hahahaha. I think that I can even join a triathlon and win if you're the trophy. :)))) 
Bus ride to back to home.

End of Day 2. :D



The rest of our backpacking adventure link: here.


P.S. Google+ created a timeline (with pictures and locations) of my trip to Malaysia and Singapore. Link: here.

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