Singapore: Day 14 (April 9)

We went to Red Dot Museum, at long last, the trip that was delayed for around 10 days. We got down at Tanjong Pagar station, a quaint neighborhood right along side office buildings.

The Red Dot Museum is located inside the Red Dot Traffic building, a former traffic police headquarters. So the museum is just a fraction of the whole building. I later found out after looking around (physically, then around the internet, no wait their website) that a community of organizations are based in the upper floors of the building. It’s a pretty good deal, aside from having a museum within the building, it has a quaint restaurant/bar there too, just beside the museum.

The disappointing thing was the museum was just on one floor, and not a big one at that since it doesn’t occupy the entire floor space. Entrance costs $4 for students (I pretended to be one). Oh wait, the fun part was right before you enter the museum, there’s a shop that sells all sorts of things like lomo cameras, bags, nicely designed things for the home, oddments and artsy things, and a bicycle.

Okay, after we went out of the museum, we were a bit disappointed that it all cost $4. But to be fair, the designs were amazing. They were innovative, smart, practical, elegant, and sometimes amusing. I recommend that you visit the place, or buy their yearbooks so you can see what I mean. I’ll post pictures when we settle down when I get home.

After that, we went out to look around the place. Remembering the map the Indian lady gave us when we entered the museum, I scanned it and found a book store a few minutes’ walk from there. And what we found was a small quaint book store with a sense of humor and perhaps the first book store I’ve ever visited that doesn’t sell Twatlight books. It was fun and we spent almost an hour looking around (it’s quite a narrow store but with two floors). Every other book or author on the shelf has a post it note posted on the shelf frame. Written on it is a sort of review by the owners, recommending the book. How very nice and helpful of them. When I go back here to Singapore, I’ll probably revisit the bookstores and look for more.

We went back to the Tanjong Pagar station and went to City Hall to look for something to buy. Finding nothing within our budget, we rode a train back to Tampines, looked around again, where only Patrick found something to buy (a couple of cheap shirts), then we went home.

Singapore: Day 13 (April 8)

It’s Easter! We didn’t search for Easter eggs today but we searched for bus stops and a way to go to the zoo. (Because we got lost.) And we went to the zoo. (Durr.)

Anyway. The morning started off with the parents pissy and the rest of us tense and on the way there, too, because we woke up late and not in the mood to go to mass. Back then, we expected that church goes first above everything else, until they told us that they plan to go to the zoo. So up we went, ate breakfast, bathed, and changed clothes and off we went to the MRT station as usual. We boarded the East West line (as usual) and changed trains at Jurong East and on to the North South line. We disembarked at Kranji, and got lost there for a bit because we couldn’t find out bus stop number. Dad asked questions then he told us we should take the train again and get off at the next station, Marsiling, and wait for a bus taking us to the zoo there. And that we did. We waited for some time, joking all the while, and then the bus came. It wasn’t a smooth ride though, the bus driver had to drop us off at another bus stop that wasn’t at the zoo’s because…er…he’s gonna take it to the garage or something. So we had to wait again. So we got out, waited, and rode the next bus. It wasn’t smooth either, the machines they used to scan our cards went off like burglar alarms because we didn’t swipe the cards when we got off the previouis bus. Apparently, one should swipe it when we get on and off the bus. This is probably because we got used to our bus rides from Ballota Park to Tampines Central Mall where we swipe the card only once. Anyway. At least the bus was really on it’s way to the zoo. And to the zoo we went.

Before we went in, we ate in one of the restaurants there near the entrance. We actually ate in a fastfood, not a restaurant, particularly KFC, and it wasn’t a satisfying experience for my family because they were so used to having rice with their chicken. Meanwhile, I wasn’t so surprised. It was a pretty authentically American deal, after all, and they don’t have rice with their chicken there. The fixins were good though, and the gravy was better than in the Philippine’s. Back home, KFC gravy is mostly flour and butter so it’s thicker and more viscous.

So after that slight detour, we went on our way to the zoo. Now, the nice thing about the zoo was it didn’t use cages in the conventional sense. Instead, each of the animals’ home were separated by a deep moat far from where the people could walk. If they wanted to get to the people on the other side, they either have to jump really high and far, or slide down the moat, swim, and then climb back again. Except that they can’t really do that now would they want to since the concrete bank from their place to the moat is too steep and slipper, and the bank on our side is, in most cases, vertical. These types of “cages” are for big cats by the way. And they probably wouldn’t want to anyway, if they could help it. They’re pampered, fed three times a day (probably) and don’t need to hunt for food. For the monkeys, they’re separated by an even wider moat, and their trees are far from the trees on our side, so they can’t just swing from their trees to ours.

It was fun. We saw different types of monkees (macaques, mandrills, orangutans, chimps, howlers), lionesses who looked like the prettiest things (I was a bit bothered by them, they seemed ready to jump over the wide moat and have party on our side), cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, white tigers, rhinos (RHINOS!), giraffes (they’re majestic), flying foxes, frogs, scorpions, butterflies, warthogs, meerkats (baby meerkats!), zebras, wallbies, deers, naked mole rats, tarantulas, flamingoes (and a small komodo dragon lurking near them), pygmy hippos, Indian elephants, a glimpse of an otter (they were shy that time, probably) and probably more that I forgot to mention. We took a boat ride around half of the sort-of-island and, as pointed out by our guide, saw a monitor lizard swimming near the bank. She said we were lucky that we saw it as it was quite rare.

We didn’t see everything because dad told us to hurry because we might miss the bus. Boohoo. We’ll be back someday and by then we’ll get to see the whole thing, and up close and with a lot of time in our hands. (I even inquired about their job openings there haha. Although I have no plans of working there in the near future.) And so, we rode the bus and then train home without a hitch.

(We had dinner at the Central Mall food court, then we took a cab home. We ate Magnum ice cream in a sort of advance celebration of Peter’s birthday. We also had vodka and some snacks, while we watched a slideshow on the table, which played to jazzy music, prepared by Tricia, as we eat and drink. It was mostly funny.)

We didn’t go to mass. hehehe.

Singapore: Day 12 (April 7)

We went to Ikea today. It’s one of the bastions of a consumerist culture, but it’s still an amazing place, with the kind of furniture I like. I don’t mind the assemble-it-yourself policy of theirs, though I expect it makes having furniture hard for a lot of other people.

I like how the floor plan is arranged so you can see every bit of furniture they have. It’s almost like a museum to Your Ideal Life or Your Ideal Home. But whatever, I like their bedroom sets.

We ate lunch at their Swede food place. Dad ordered organic pasta with meatballs, chickenwings, and two slice of cake for whoever wants it. The pasta and meatballs were okay. They don’t really compare to the pasta and meatballs from Faustina’s (that’s in Los Baños, they serve more pasta and meatballs per plate and it’s cheaper too, around 110 pesos) but it’s good enough.

After that, we went back home. Mom and Dad preparedpancit while we just hung around and played Magic. We were going to a pool-side barbecue by Dad’s coworker later that night, simply because my whole family is here. It’s a bit flattering, actually. Really nice of him.

They finished cooking then we went there by cab (two cabs). It was quite far than our usual taxi rides. About $14 worth. It was probably around Bedok. Anyway, we got there (Tricia and I didn’t bring swimwear, we weren’t keen on swimming that night) and were suddenly plunged into eating (seafood for the first of many plates of food) after all the pleasantries.

We had a good time. We got along well with some of Dad’s coworkers who were keen on conversations with us, and Ramon, the host, was so nice, he kept insisting that we eat, putting food on our table every several minutes or so. We ate in little increments, tried a little of everything and that made us full.

I wore a long-sleeved shirt that night, expecting that it will be colder as the night wore on, but the air that time was still. There was no wind and we were beginning to get stuff. It was only then that I regretted not bringing swim wear. I badly needed a swim.

To entertain ourselves, Tricia and I took photos of each other. Later, the four of us went off to the playground to goof around and keep ourselves occupied. An hour or two later, after we went back, everybody prepared to leave and started with their pre-goodbye chit chat. They insisted that we go back to Singapore on Christmas. One even advised us that we do the same thing she did on Christmas: ride the top of a doubledecker and get stuck on traffic so we could have a nice view/show of the lights around the city.

It was really late so we went home, full, jolly, and in desperate need of rest.

Singapore: Day 9 (April 4)

Patrick, Tricia, and I were supposed to meet up with Millie later that night, so we went to Tampines Central Mall at around 1 pm so we could maybe look around before we go there. (We’re supposed to meet at the Esplanade Mall, near Esplanade station.) Mom and Peter came along until Tampines Central Mall to look around the tiangges to buy something cheap to take home or wear. We had our lunch at the food court there where we always eat at then went on our way to shop. The three of us split up with Mom and Peter to look for clothes for ourselves. The shops within the mall have pretty pricey stuff with a budget like mine, which is $54. So we set off for the tiangges. Looking for cheap clothes took some time, mostly because Tricia’s with us (hehe). Patrick bought some shirts, Tricia chose them. I mostly…whined that I have no taste in clothes and don’t know how to choose. Also because I’m indecisive.

After that, we decided to board a train (we topped up another $10 in our e-cards because we ran out of credit, it sure is costly to travel around here on a daily basis, well at least compared to the Philippines) to City Hall station. We alighted at City Hall and walked the underground pathway from City Hall station to Esplanade. There was still a few hours of waiting before Milie arrives so we wandered around and had a look. It was fun waiting before the meet up actually.

We wandered around the Esplanade mall and had a look at the shops that held our interests. There was this movie posters and replicas shop that sold The One Ring from LOTR, a poor replica of the Mockingjay booch, some Harry Potter wands, and lots of movie posters, old ones, recent ones and upcoming ones alike. Then there was a souvenir shop with some gothic poetry booklets, music boxes each with a different song, and I Love Laksa t-shirts. They were quite pricey though.

We visited a lot of stores there, including a sort of Parisian vintage store (the stuff don’t look vintage) and two stores that sort of assault my nose with heavy supposedly-good-in-small-amounts scents.

We got tired then we took a walk to Marina Bay Sands through the Helix Bridge. It’s an amazing place, pricey stuff all around though. There was this art gallery with paintings and amazing sculptures in white and red, and then there was this quaint store selling vintage stuff that still looks brand new. Compasses, telescopes, queer devices and…lots of steampunk stuff. Old typewriters. Globes. Mechanical things. Awesome things. And then there was this store that caught my eye. There were these sort of round bottle things with different colored liquor owned by an Italian couple. The husband saw my interest and let me try two drinks, one is lime, one is a limoncello. Both very good. Then there was a candy shop. I bought jelly beans.

When 6pm came around, we went back to Esplanade Mall by the same way and waited at the concert hall there. Walking there, just by the sea watching the sunset, was marvelous. Good things. Good times. Anyway, we saw (and heard) a recorder concert there. It was like spring in my ears. (Like I’ve experienced it. Haha.)

Millie arrived 10 minutes later with her boyfriend. She looks happy and that’s good. (At last, it seems, haha) We ate at glutton’s bay. Dinner was spicy satay things, noodles and chicken, then some rice, chicken wings, cereal prawns, and calamansi juice with plums. (I didn’t like it when it was almost empty, the drink got salty as time wore on.) Then a can of beer each and lots of conversation. It’s nice to have a friend in another country. It’s comforting.

At 9:30, Dad texted me that the three of us should go home. It still strikes me as annoying that I’m still at the beck and call of my parents. Oh well. So we went home, still caught a train (the train we took terminated three stations away from our stop so we changed trains) and took a cab home at Tampines Central Mall. It was a smooth ride.

Singapore: Day 8 (April 3)

Tricia, Patrick, and I went to the National Library. It was one of the most amazing libraries I’ve ever been to. I just discovered then that the library was from the 7th floor to the 13th floor. That’s seven floors worth of books. (I’d probably see a bigger library in the future but this is the biggest and nicest looking library I’ve seen so far.) It’s also fun to note that the area around the library is filled with book stores. It’s a place for books and I think this is good, and that any country with lots of places for books is a decent country. Perhaps Lucien from The Sandman series was right in saying that any country’s worth can be measure on the amount of librarians it has, ergo the amount of libraries the country has. He’s got something there.
We spent the next few hours going through books. Tricia went off on her own in some dark corner, reading advertising and design books, while Patrick and I looked for Astronomy books. We found some interesting ones but they’d require heavy reading and I want some light reads since we’re just going to stay there for a few hours. I went upstairs to the 8th floor and was amazed at all the art books and literature books. I browed through fantasy and scifi art and then dived in Kurt Vonnegut’s The Man Without A Country. The title just caught my attention and I thought I can relate to that. The other book I borrowed/carried was a collection of postmodern short stories but I paid it no mind. I finished the The Man Without A Country in two hours or so. It’s a collection of Kurt’s essays around 2004. Good stuff. I felt myself liking Kurt more and more. I can say I’m a fan now.
I texted Tricia to go up the 8th floor too and I found her an hour into reading the book in a table somewhere. She was surrounded by stacks of art books. Her laptop’s open. She’s drawing in it, inspired most probably. I was scribbling on my notebook, too, as I read my book. She pointed me to some pretty good art books of things that I was a fan of like Samurai Champloo, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ghibli films, Herge’s Tintin, James Jean’s Fables cover art, and others. I told them that we’d leave at 6 so we can catch the bus at Tampines Mall at 7:30. We left at 6:40. Those few hours weren’t enough. We will be back, I’m sure.
After the library, we raced against the clock just so we could reach the bus on time. We still had to walk to the nearest station to the East-West line, which was the City Hall interchange. We got there a minute or two after 7pm. We reached the bus stop at 7:30. Luckily, I found out that I was mistaken about the time. The bus is supposed to be at the stop at 7:38. We’ve got 8 minutes to spare. But the bus was late by about 4 minutes. I was surprised by this. I was so used to them being on time that their tardiness seemed so unnatural, unreal, and out of place. But no matter. We caught the last bus to our condominium and that’s enough.

Singapore: Day 7 (April 2)

We didn’t travel anywhere that day. We just stayed at home, watched TV, ate our meals, went online, and went out for a swim in the afternoon. It was a calm day, the best parts being spent just floating along and staring at the sky. And playing in the water, of course.  I noticed that there were a lot of ravens (or are they crows? Or rooks? I’m not sure.) flying around. I want to have one as a pet.