Day 1, 26th July 2014
Arriving Changi in the morning after an early flight (well, 7-ish is considered early), we (a friend and I) headed to Orchard (nearest station, Orchard) for a quick stroll and lunch before heading to our hotel in Geylang to check in (standard check in time, 3pm).
Bro tips : If you're here for a 3/4 days stay and thoroughly unsure of the SMRT fares and worry about having loose change and all, it would be great if you get the Singapore Tourist Pass (STP). The pass is valid for use for the duration of the number of days purchased (i.e. 1-Day, 2-Day or 3-Day pass), from the time of purchase to the end of the operational hours for MRT, LRT and basic bus services on the last day. Ergo, even if you make a significant mistake of following the longer routes (aka more charges), rest assure that the 'unlimited' rides given by the card is forgiving. Do check out the price though for the days you would want to purchase here. Of course, if you're confident that you'll use less than the price for the days you would pay for the STP, just go for an EZ-Link card and reload when it is running out of credits.
|Shameless selfie with the Singapore Tourist Pass|
|Guess where can you see this in Orchard St. ?|
|Pool of people during the weekend in Orchard. Malls and streets alike.|
You won't be short of options for lunch, but if you're carrying your bags around in town since leaving the bags in Geylang and back to town = total laziness/didn't happen, you might want to just drop by one of the many malls in Orchard for lunch. We chose Food Republic, located at Wisma Atria to settle for lunch. The appetite for local cuisine made me go for the Singaporean Hokkien Mee. A vast difference from the Malaysian Hokkien Mee I know, the fried noodle with gravy and succulent prawns and seafood from Thye Hong was cooked just right (they do cook in batches, so be prepared for long queues if you must).
|Singaporean Hokkien Mee/Prawn Fried Noodle|
After headed to Geylang to check in Fragrance Hotel Sapphire, we took a quick nap before headed for dinner at one of Singapore's most frequent visited food stall by tourists, Maxwell Food Court. We took a bus from Geylang to near Maxwell Food Court (Bro Tips : Use Google Maps to provide the suggestions of routes to follow, or some Singapore SMRT app on the smart phone to help plan the journey).
|There are a few apps in the market, Bus @ Sg is what I used when I was there.|
Being tourist and all, one should just try the local foods (Hokkien Mee, Fried Kuey Teow, Pork Noodles etc) but if there is one food that rules them all, it should be Tian Tian Chicken Rice. Raved by Anthony Bourdain, it easily had the longest queue usually at the stall (even shunning the other available chicken rice stalls there, inadvertently or otherwise), so definitely this is a 'must try'. But in all honesty, I am more skewed towards Malaysian chicken rice, no offense :P
After dinner, we headed towards Clarke Quay, one of the more happening areas to hang around at night in Singapore. We had a few drinks and left Clarke Quay with ample time to head back to Geylang before the train and bus services halts. If however, you felt like clubbing around the area, please be prepared to take the bus or cab to the hotel as the train services will stop before 12 a.m. Ergo, the app would be very informative and useful to have, as emphasized earlier.
|Clarke Quay - Nearest MRT station to alight at is Clarke Quay|
|Had to go for some beers I don't commonly see in Malaysia. Bro Tips : Keep an eye for the 'Happy Hour' as always to save some dollar on the booze/beer :)|
What Ivan might dine/drink differently:
i) Tim Ho Wan, Dim Sum, Plaza Singapura
If the local hawker cuisine does not appeal you thoroughly, you can opt for the nearest dim sum Michelin Star restaurant located in Plaza Singapura (alight at Dhoby Ghaut station to reach Plaza Singapura). Technically, with the amount of franchise in the country at the moment, waiting for a place wouldn't be as tedious and long as opposed when there are only one in the country. Recommended dish would be the 四大天王 (Four Heavenly King - Not to be confused with the Spicy 4 variety of Beans dish or the combination of Andy Lau/Aaron Kwok/Jacky Cheung/Leon Lai).
|Clockwise from Top Left : Steamed Egg Cake, Vermicelli Roll with Pig Liver, Pan Fried Carrot Cake, BBQ Pork Baked Buns|
The Big 4 includes Steamed Egg Cake/ Ma Lai Gou ($3.80), Vermicelli Roll with Pig Liver ($5.50), Pan Fried Carrot Cake ($4.50) and BBQ Pork Baked Buns ($4.50 for 3). My verdict? I personally fancy the BBQ Pork Buns, a little of a crossover of the regular Char Siew Pao and Polo Bun and the Vermicelli Roll with Pig Liver (Can't say I have a lot of those before). The other two seems to be under the ordinary category for me. Overall, it is worth a try (after all, how often do you dine in a Michelin star place? :) Other dim sums over here is just alright, since I had better (or the ones I am more familiar and fond of).
ii) TWG Tea Salon and Boutique, Tea, Ion Orchard
The variety of tea in the TWG franchise established in Singapore itself, is astonishing the first time I came across it. While I cannot elaborate on the history of TWG itself, I can honestly tell you however that the variety of tea is too vast here, it is almost impossible to finish trying all within a month (at least for me if I am enjoying 2 types of tea per day). The price over here would be on the higher end but it is for the quality and ambiance you're paying for, so brush off the Teh Tarik price in your mind. The other branch that you can go to around Orchard area would be Takashimaya.
|Wasn't kidding when I mentioned that they have vast variety of tea here.|